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PREMIUM CUV: VW Tiguan justifies its price through materials, engineering

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Volkswagen’s player in the popular compact crossover category, the Tiguan, is saddled with one of the weirdest names in modern motordom.

It’s supposedly an amalgam of tiger and iguana. The tiger part makes a certain sense, but an iguana?

Whatever. VW has a long history of atmospheric nomenclature, generally derived from a variety of European winds (Passat, Scirocco, Golf, Jetta).

Beyond the odd name, the Tiguan has another barrier buyers need to get past: the price.

Our SE-level tester was a couple hundred dollars shy of 30 grand, and that didn’t include a backup camera (practically de rigeur these days particularly in CUVs), satellite radio or leather upholstery (it’s lifelike leatherette).

To get a rearview camera at the SE level, you’ll have to opt for the Appearance package, which would push the price even higher,

But … In the Tiguan’s defense, there’s a premium quality permeating the little cute-ute that puts it a cut above most of its competitors.

The cabin is crafted out of deluxe materials worthy of an Audi, VW’s premium division. The seats are nicely shaped and supportive, front and back.

173376The elevated seating position offers an expansive view of the road ahead. Steering wheel and pedals are perfectly positioned for confident control. The switchgear is simple to decipher and operates with satisfying action.

The Tig is powered by the 200-pony, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder borrowed from the hot-hatch GTI. Here it’s linked to a six-speed automatic that delivers smart, solid shifts. In this application, it provides sprightly performance, but fuel economy is a somewhat shy of others in this class.

On the road, the Tiguan corners smartly while delivering a compliant yet Euro-taut ride quality. Road and wind noise is held to a minimum.

Brakes and steering are both top-notch, with just-right weightiness in the tiller and confident stopping power in the four-wheel disc binders.

The Tiguan boasts high-end engineering applied to a vehicle category that often comes up a bit short in feel and responsiveness. Its sporty, fun-to-drive personality goes a long way toward putting the premium price in perspective.

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