The SUV's height lends itself to improved all-round visibility and passenger comfort.
VOLKSWAGEN R refers to the high-performance range of cars from the German manufacturer featuring more power and racier looks. The Volkswagen R-Line, on the other hand, makes do with only the latter.
But that is not to say an R-Line model is all show and no go. Take the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI R-Line, for instance. This compact SUV has the muscular two-litre turbocharged engine from the previous Golf GTI. That means 210 hp and 280 Newton-metres of rather beefy torque.
To complement the performance, the Tiguan R-Line has equally spiffy exterior styling. There are sculpted R-Design bumpers painted in body colour to match the colour-coded side sills with matte chrome inserts. At the back, there is an R-Line spoiler at the edge of the roof.
Other sporty accents include the black textured rear diffuser and bigger 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels to make the compact Tiguan a handsomely buff SUV.
Open the door and you will find aluminium door sill plates emblazoned with the R-Line logo, as are the headrests of the leather seats. Aluminium accents on the steering wheel, a cool black roofliner above and stainless steel caps on the pedals below complete the special trim of this Tiguan cabin.
Although the Tiguan has the old GTI engine, it does not use the hot hatch's six-speed dual clutch gearbox. Instead, the well-proportioned SUV has a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. This wet-clutch gearbox directs the torque to all four wheels through the 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system.
4Motion maximises traction by using a Haldex differential to quickly and efficiently distribute torque between the front and rear axles based on vehicle speed and cornering forces.
But for optimum fuel consumption, the 4Motion is front-biased with only about 10 per cent of the torque delivered to the rear wheels when more grip is required.
That gives the Tiguan R-Line reassuring traction when travelling swiftly on wet roads and other slick surfaces. But the height of this SUV (it is 1.7m tall) is also noticeable when negotiating a fast corner. There isn't much body roll and the low profile tyres display good adhesion but do not expect the Tiguan R-Line to behave like a GTI with lowered suspension.
Instead, the SUV's height lends itself to improved all-round visibility and passenger comfort. The ride is refined, with DCC adaptive chassis control offering three damping modes - Comfort, Normal or Sport.
The feedback from the steering wheel is also modified depending on the setting chosen, so that Sport adds slightly more heft for a sportier drive. But the steering wheel, instrument panel and centre console all belong to the previous generation of VWs.
The interior has excellent headroom and the 2,604mm wheelbase is 26mm longer than the old GTIs, thus making the Tiguan interior feel airy and spacious. Boot space is also generous and there are nice amenities like the Kessy keyless entry and start system. No wonder the Tiguan is the bestselling SUV in its class.
Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line
Engine 1,984cc turbocharged
Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch transmission
Max power 210 hp @ 5,300-6,200 rpm
Max torque 280 Nm @ 1,700-5,200 rpm
0-100 kmh 7.3 secs
Top speed 235 kmh
CO2 emissions 180 g/km
Average OMV $35,600
Price $200,800 (with COE)
Distributor Volkswagen Group Singapore Z6474 8288