It’s an eternal struggle, this battle between your heart and your brain. One wants to make decisions based on passion and emotion while the other wants to be a logical, straight thinking accountant! Your heart always tells you what you want, but the brain always asks you if you need. The heart wants what the heart wants. But the brain, well, the brain is a logical pain in the backside! The reason I ramble is that as I write this story, the heart and brain are at war. I’m finding it very difficult to choose between the Hyundai Tucson and the Volkswagen Tiguan because they are both wonderful vehicles. And so, I’ve arrived at this conclusion. Like all other difficult choices, this too must be made by weighing the pros and cons.
So that’s what I’m going to do – make a list, tally the points and choose a winner. Let’s just hope the heart listens to the brain… I’ve always maintained that looks are a very subjective matter. And being such, it isn’t fair to say that either of these cars looks better than the other. The Tucson is a younger, fresher design and has a lot of flair going for it at just the right places. The Tiguan is typically German and has a serious, but handsome face. Personally, I prefer the subtler design of the VW, but Chris prefers the Tucson. So it really comes down to what your personal preferences are. But either way, you won’t end up with a Fiat Multipla!
Where Volkswagen stands out though, is finish levels. The paint quality for example – Hyundai has never been able to match VW’s paint quality and that’s a shame. The Tiguan always looks like it just came out of a detailing shop. The Hyundai, in comparison, feels a little dull. Inside too, the VW feels like the more premium SUV here. The design is real classy and the absence of the ugly blue backlighting that Hyundai uses only adds to that. The materials feel more premium and the cabin itself feels better put together. Only issue I have is that thanks to the use of black all around, the Tiguan’s cabin seems a lot more cramped.
In fact, if it weren’t for that massive sunroof, I would have even called it claustrophobic. On the other hand, the Hyundai’s cabin feels nice and roomy thanks to the generous use of beige. So much that I’m willing to forgive Hyundai for not offering a sunroof in the Tucson. That said, where both the SUVs are evenly matched are when comparing spec. Both of them get all the good bits – rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, CarPlay, reversing camera, ABS, EBD, ESP, 6 airbags, rear AC vents, automated tail gate, climate control and a whole bunch more. But while all of these are well and good, the real test of any vehicle is in how it drives.
Neither of these SUV are meant to be sportscars, so expecting them to set the drag strip or racetrack on fire is just silly. But for the sake of our dilemma, a comparison needs to be made. And when you do start comparing some differences stand out. For example, while the engine capacities are similar, the feel of the two are vastly different. The Tucson uses a 1995cc turbo-diesel motor that makes 182.5bhp and 400Nm of torque. This is mated to a 6-speed torque converter. The Tiguan on the other hand uses a 1968cc turbo-diesel that makes 150.8bhp and 340Nm. It also uses VW’s 7-speed DSG ‘box to deliver power to all four wheels as required through the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. Both the SUVs get driving modes with the Tiguan also getting additional modes for some off-roadability.
The most striking difference between the two, when you drive them back-to-back is in the transmission feel. The Hyundai’s gearbox feels unsettled all the time making it very difficult to drive smooth. The car keeps lurching forward and you need to be super delicate with your right foot to keep the drive smooth. In stop and go traffic, this relentless pitching becomes slightly unpleasant and irritating. The Tiguan’s DSG, though, is a master of all trades. The car remains calm through everything and never pitches like the Hyundai. Stop and go traffic is no worry and neither is highway duty. The ride remains smooth and the acceleration is progressive.
Under outright acceleration too, the gearbox shines bright. The shifts are super quick and those paddle shifters are a delight as always. However, the Tucson does have a trump card under its sleeve – 60Nm of extra torque. And that difference makes itself obvious in acceleration and roll-on acceleration times. Where the Tiguan takes 10.6 seconds to hit 100kph, the Tuscon does it in just 9.6 seconds – that’s quicker than both the Polo GTs. Roll-ons too rule in favour of the Tucson. So when it comes to Hyundai Tucson vs VW Tiguan ‘The Hyundai’s trump card is the 60Nm of extra torque it makes over the Tiguan. But its gearbox lets it down’ outright performance, there’s no question that the Tucson is better.
However, when it comes to ride and handling, the Tucson is a step behind. Despite having similar suspension spec, the Tucson doesn’t isolate the cabin from the road conditions as well as the Tiguan. The Tiguan feels better damped and combines great high-speed handling and good low-speed shock absorption. Around corners, the tyres give you excellent traction and the suspension remains taut without throwing you around. Even mid corner bumps don’t upset the Tiguan. The Tucson, on the other hand, rolls a bit around corners and doesn’t absorb bumps and undulations as well as the VW. The kind of confidence that the Tiguan gives you to go fast is lacking in the Tuscon. Some of this has to do with the lack of feedback from the Hyundai.
All this adds up to a driving feel that is much better in the Tiguan. You could almost say that the Tiguan feels like a small car in the way it drives. You don’t feel the size of it at all and are plugged into the car more than in the Tucson. The Tucson feels like a large SUV and when the speeds go up, this only becomes more evident. Even when it comes to braking, the Tiguan outshines the Tucson by coming to a stop from 80kph in 23.5m against 26.2m.
So, overall, the Tiguan is a better car to drive while being evenly matched with the Tucson in other aspects. But does that make it the winner here? I’m afraid it’s not that easy. The Hyundai Tucson is a great SUV. It is spacious, performs well, is fairly comfortable to be in and is great to look at. The only problem is, the Tiguan does all of this better. It is better to drive, the ride quality is better, feels more premium, has a great gearbox and is only a bit slower. But when you consider the prices, the choice becomes a tough one. For all of the above plus a sunroof and AWD, you will have to pay close to `6 lakh more. So the question suddenly becomes, whether the Tiguan is worth the extra money. My heart says, the fact that the VW is so much better to drive matters a lot more than the slightly lower performance.
So it begs the question, do you really need AWD in this segment? Not really. These SUVs will hardly ever see dirt or mud. And since we live in a country where 90 per cent of the geographical area sees no snowfall or other slippery conditions, AWD isn’t really a necessity either. That being the case, my brain finds it very difficult to call the Tiguan the winner in this test. Now, if there were a FWD variant that cost a few lakh less, this would have been a no brainer. But that isn’t the case, sadly. What I can say is that if you don’t mind the extra money, don’t think twice about the Tiguan. Because, it really is the car that speaks to your heart. But if you don’t, then you won’t be making a mistake by going for the Tucson. It might not be as great as the VW, but the Tucson is a wonderful car in its own right and will hold its own. However, this time, I’m going to listen to the heart. The Tuscon, I’m afraid, will eventually become just a means of transport once the novelty wears off. But the Tiguan promises to be a car that you will want to drive every single day. And that, to me, is worth the extra money.