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Forward-looking radar is standard equipment on the new Tiguan, promising the ability to automatically stop if a pedestrian is sighted ahead of the vehicle. (Dan Carney)

Volkswagen re-engineers Tiguan

Volkswagen’s original Tiguan compact SUV of 2007 was too expensive and too thirsty to achieve blockbuster sales during the segment’s emergence as a key source of sales. But it achieved worldwide sales of 2.64 million during its production run, providing a strong foundation for the next-generation version, introduced at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The company has aggressively addressed the original Tiguan’s shortcomings, building the new generation version on its high-volume, low-cost modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform used for the Golf and other compact models. This has produced a vehicle that is longer, lower, wider, and more car-like than its predecessor.

Illustrating the anticipated range of uses for a crossover SUV, the Tiguan debuted in both on-road and off-road-centric configurations along with a hybrid-electric concept of a future efficiency-focused Tiguan GTE model.

While the Tiguan’s cargo capacity has increased 10% to 18.4 ft³ (521 L), the vehicle is 110 lb (243 lb) lighter than before. Overall length is up 2.4 in (61 mm) to 176.6 in (4486 mm) and width is increased 1.2 in (31 mm) to 72.4 in (1839 mm). Height is reduced by 1.3 in (33 mm) to 64.3 in (1633 mm). The lower roof combines with other aerodynamic improvements such as wind tunnel-designed side-view mirrors to slash drag by 40% to 0.31 coefficient of drag.

Worldwide, Tiguan features a suite of eight different engines, all of which include turbocharging, direct injection, automatic stop/start, and battery regeneration as standard equipment. Half the engines are gasoline and half are diesel, with the gasoline family topping out with a 220-hp (164-kW) 2.0-L four cylinder and the diesel family headed by a twin-turbo 240-hp (179-kW) 2.0-L four. Overall, the engine families are 24% more efficient than those on the previous model, which were Euro-5 compliant and 10% more efficient than those that were Euro-6 certified.

The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is optional with some engines and standard with others. Its new Active Control switch lets drivers set the parameters of its operation according to the conditions; on-road, off-road, and snow.

In normal on-road driving the Tiguan’s Haldex coupling disconnects the rear wheels from the engine for maximum efficiency.

While cost containment and improved efficiency were critical upgrades to the Tiguan, Volkswagen has made important electronic safety aid systems standard equipment, making the Tiguan even more appealing to young families.

That means an automatic post-collision braking system and a forward radar system that watches for potential collisions and acts to prevent them. Both are standard on all new Tiguans. If the radar spots a person in the road ahead, it issues an alert followed by automatic braking if the driver doesn’t act. Automatic lane-keeping assist that steers the Tiguan back into its lane is also standard.

Tiguan’s crash-safety extends to pedestrians, with the use of a pyrotechnic hood release that pops the hood open in the event the car strikes a person, providing additional crush space between the sheetmetal and the engine beneath.

While the new Tiguan goes on sale in 2016, the company is less specific about plans for the hybrid-electric concept version also shown at Frankfurt. Its internal combustion engine is a 115-kW (154-hp) turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder, which combines with an electric motor for a maximum system output of 160 kW. They drive the vehicle through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The 13 kW·h lithium-ion battery pack can propel the Tiguan GTE concept 31 mi (50 km) on electric power alone, with an electric top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). Using the electric motor to boost the gasoline engine’s performance produces an available top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) and 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration of 8.1 s.

VW also imagines the possibility of a roof-mounted solar panel that can, over extended periods of time, provide a worthwhile amount of free energy. Though a solar panel cannot quickly top off a discharged battery pack, it can soak up enough energy in a year to provide 1000 km (621 mi) of free driving energy for customers in southern latitudes, while northern drivers might see a free 500 km (310 mi) of energy from the sun.

Certainly even a small amount of free driving energy helps shift the Tiguan’s perception as fuel-thirsty for its size.

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