Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid review: the plug-in hybrid that’s the very definition of average

On the first time of asking, when it was cold, our test car paused dramatically for a second when asked to bring in the petrol engine, as though someone had cut the throttle to 20 per cent, but the rest of the time the switch between petrol and electric modes was seamless.

Not silent, however; as we found in a long-term test Passat GTE, the 1.4-litre four-cylinder isn’t the smoothest engine around. In fact, it can get quite vocal when you push it hard and even when you don’t it generates a bit of vibration through the steering column and pedals. Most of the time, though, it’s innocuous enough.

As is the Tiguan’s performance. With this sort of power on tap you’d expect to feel truly quick, but its outright grunt is blunted somewhat by its weight which, at 1.8 tonnes, is not inconsiderable. With the petrol engine screaming away, full-throttle acceleration is something you end up tending to avoid, rather than something to be enjoyed. 

Papering over the cracks

The ride is a bit hit-and-miss, too. Volkswagen has clearly firmed it up to make sure that, with all that weight up top, the Tiguan doesn’t fall over at the first sign of a bend, and as a result it feels fairly stiffly sprung. Granted, it rounds off the edges of the worst bumps pretty well, so the wheels don’t crash and thump too much. But there’s a restless quality even on smoother roads, and it feels a little wooden over larger lumps; it can even get a little fidgety on poorly-surfaced motorway stretches, too. 

The benefit of this is that the Tiguan doesn’t feel all at sea when you leave the motorway; in fact, on fast, sweeping A-roads it’s actually rather satisfying to drive, that taut suspension keeping body lean in check, which results in plenty of lateral grip you can lean on and a reassuringly predictable chassis balance. 

More winding roads aren’t quite so much fun, because all that weight means the Tiguan doesn’t feel very keen to turn in; what’s more, its over-assisted steering feels leaden and numb, even when you switch it into GTE mode (somewhat oddly, given it isn’t one), which only really increases the weighting slightly. 

Fortunately, the chassis telegraphs its intentions pretty well and if the nose does lose grip it does so very progressively, which means that while this isn’t exactly a fun car to drive, it is at least safe and predictable. 

The Telegraph verdict

Sometimes, a car earns a three-star rating because some parts of it are so brilliant they deserve five stars, yet others are so poor they warrant only one. This is not one of those cars. The Tiguan eHybrid is thoroughly average through and through; as anodyne as a dinner of cabbage soup followed by vanilla ice cream in a room painted magnolia with lounge jazz playing in the background. 

It is neither smooth nor scintillating to drive; it is spacious and versatile, but not exceptionally so and while it will save you some company car tax, it won’t save you as much as its rivals can. For its existence, we feel neither remorse nor joy. It just is. 

And that’s fine, if you like that sort of thing. But in the presence of a glut of talented rivals, the Tiguan’s anonymity stands out. Or, rather, it doesn’t. And frankly, life’s too short to eat cabbage soup all the time. 

Telegraph rating: Three stars out of five

The facts

On test: Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 eHybrid 245 Elegance

Body style: Five-door SUV

On sale: now

How much? £38,585 on the road (PHEV range from £36,185)

How fast? 127mph, 0-62mph in 7.5sec

How economical? 153.2mpg (WLTP Combined)

Engine & gearbox: 1,395cc four-cylinder petrol engine, six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive

Electric powertrain: AC electric motor with 13kWh battery, 3.6kW on-board charger, Type 2 charging socket

Electric range: 29 miles

Maximum power/torque: 242bhp/184lb ft

CO2 emissions: 43g/km

VED: £0 first year, then £145

Warranty: 3 years / 60,000 miles (mileage unlimited in first two years)

Spare wheel as standard: No (not available)

The rivals

222bhp, 201.7mpg, £35,700 on the road

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