The company’s first high-performance crossover might be just around the corner

The Volkswagen Tiguan is in some ways, a trailblazer in its segment. As one of the first of the modern premium compact crossovers to hit the market in 2007, the Volkswagen Tiguan opened the door for many of its rivals. The intentions may have been pure, but the results were anything but. That’s because for better or worse, the Tiguan hasn’t been as dynamic as Volkswagen intended it to be. You might even say that the crossover has languished in the face of increased competition, partly due to VW’s decision to keep the Tiguan’s design muted for the better part of its existence.

Now it appears all that’s about to change. According to Autocar, Volkswagen is preparing an onslaught of new crossovers and SUVs, beginning in 2016. The Tiguan will play a prominent role in this renaissance of sorts. To make things more interesting, there’s also talk of a range-topping performance variant that will combine a new design language with the company’s renowned R performance engineering. Nothing has been made official at this point, but Volkswagen’s timetable for its Tiguan family points to a 2017 launch for the R-badged model.

It’s also not yet clear whether the R will be based on the standard Tiguan or feature a revised body. Initial rumors pointed toward a coupe-style crossover, likely dubbed Coupe R, but such a launch would imply additional development costs for the German brand. More recently, our paparazzi caught a beefed-up Tiguan wearing the standard roofline on the Nurburgring, which suggests that Volkswagen is sticking to the standard crossover configuration. The coupe is not completely out of the question as stranger things have happened within the Volkswagen Group, but for now, this prototype is the only thing we have.

Check it out in our speculative review below and stay tuner for updates.

Updated 10/21/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Tiguan R out for a first testing session at the Nürburgring.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Tiguan R.

Spy Shots

October 21, 2016 - First testing session

Exterior

Since there aren’t any visual images or accurate renderings of the Tiguan R, picturing what it would look like might be an exercise in creativity. Also, the fact that test car is wearing an R-Design package that’s not overly aggressive doesn’t provide any actual hints about the upcoming model. Fortunately, we can lean on the appearance of the 2015 Cross Coupe GTE, which we saw at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), as a stylistic guideline on what we can expect from the sporty crossover.

We expect it to sport beefy wheel arches and a more aggressive front bumper with larger intakes

That’s not saying much and timetables like this almost always end up with changes being made at some point. But if we’re to treat it simply as some kind of “design inspiration,” then we might be able to piece together the look of the Tiguan R. Although not all cues will make it on the production model, we do expect it to sport beefy wheel arches, a more aggressive front bumper with larger intakes, and even a vented engine hood. The seat section will also benefit from a sporty bumper with integrated exhaust pipes and a diffuser-like piece. A larger spoiler should also sit atop the tailgate to aid with both aerodynamics and looks.

If some rumors are to be believed, the Tiguan R could also borrow the upper design of the Cross Coupe GTE concept, meaning it will have a sloping roofline and a prominent C-pillar.

Interior

2015 Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE High Resolution Interior
- image 609985

Note: Interior from the 2015 VW Cross Coupe GTE shown here.

The interior of the Tiguan Coupe R is a little harder to predict, even though the report highlighted a few appointments — an active instrument display, head-up display, and an assortment of camera-aided safety features — that will likely be included in the cabin. Since it’s still a crossover by definition, rear seats are a good bet to be part of the interior configuration. Space and legroom might be issue given Volkswagen’s plan to make it as performance-centric as possible, but other than that, there simply isn’t enough evidence to accurately shape a clear picture in our heads.

Drivetrain

Reason dictates that the Volkswagen Tiguan R will be powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that currently occupies the engine bay of the Golf R. That engine is designed to produce as much as 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, ideal numbers for a coupe-crossover that will look to compete against the Audi RS Q3 and the Mercedes GLA45 AMG.

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Drivetrain
- image 613730

Note: engine from the 2016 VW Golf R shown here.

A rating of around 320 horsepower and at least 300 pound-feet of twist is possible

That said, Volkswagen can also work on tweaking the engine to bring the Tiguan R’s output closer to that of the RS Q3 or the GLA45 AMG, which benefit from 340 and 360 horsepower, respectively. Volkswagen probably won’t push the turbo-four that far, but a rating of around 320 horsepower and at least 300 pound-feet of twist is possible. Performance-wise, the Tiguan R should be able to hit 62 mph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds or less thanks to its lighter curb weight — likely to sit below 3,500 pounds. Top speed will be limited at the already traditional 155 mph.

The Tiguan R’s reported six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox is at a disadvantage compared to the seven-speed transmissions in both the RS Q3 and the GLA45 AMG, but fortunately, Volkswagen will package its crossover with four-wheel drive and electronic torque vectoring. The AWD, in particular, is important because as we like to say, “a crossover that isn’t AWD is a crossover in name only.”

Prices

It’s definitely too early to talk about prices, much more so since there isn’t a direct predecessor to base our speculation on, but the Golf vs. Golf R sticker relationship might give us a few hints. With the U.S.-spec Golf R fetching twice as much as the base model, a Tiguan R could have a similar premium over the entry-level crossover. Maybe not double the amount, as it would give it a sticker of around $50,000, but the Tiguan R will definitely cost more than $45,000. Such a price would make it more affordable than the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, which retails from $49,900.

Competition

Mercedes GLA45 AMG

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 575972

The Mercedes GLA45 AMG is a late entrant to the compact crossover party, but when it finally hit dealerships in the fall of 2014, it came with the full ensemble, party hat included. The GLA45 AMG has all the design elements that make it a true-blue AMG-powered Mercedes. The aggressive styling is evident from the get-go, thanks to the inclusion of the AMG front apron with front splitter and the trademark AMG "twin blade" grille. Even the interior gets its own sporty AMG digs.

That’s one of the biggest challenges the Volkswagen Tiguan R will have the day it lines up against the Merc crossover. No matter how well Volkswagen builds the coupe-crossover, it’s still going to have to deal with the brand recall that’s associated with AMG. It also doesn’t help the Tiguan R’s cause seeing the GLA45 AMG have a similar (in size) 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that packs more power — 360 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque — than what the Tiguan R is expected to have if it uses the same engine as Golf R. Volkswagen’s going to have to do some serious tweaking on that engine to bring the power level up to the GLA45 AMG’s vicinity. Otherwise, that’s another advantage for the already established Merc.

Read more about the 2015 Mercedes GLA45 AMG here.
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Audi RS Q3

2015 Audi RS Q3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 576592

Unlike the Mercedes GLA45 AMG, the 2015 Audi RS Q3 isn’t available in the US market. The Volkswagen Tiguan R can take advantage of that absence, but let’s still face the facts. If the Tiguan R is launched as scheduled, it’s still going to have to deal with the RS Q3 in other parts of the world, most notably in Europe. The RS Q3 has all the requisite elements the Tiguan Coupe R should strive for. It has that quintessential Audi look that immediately draws attention to itself. That’s a huge bonus in a fledgling market where most consumers are drawn to the vehicle’s looks more anything else.

Just like with the GLA45 AMG, the Tiguan R also faces a similar performance problem with the RS Q3. The Audi’s 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine has 340 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque at its disposal so while it’s not in the same level as the Mercedes crossover, Volkswagen still needs to tweak its own turbo to bring its output numbers up into the neighborhood of the Audi.

Read more about the 2015 Audi RS Q3 here.

Conclusion

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R
- image 641543

Note: TopSpeed rendering shown here.

Volkswagen’s crossover and SUV lineup needs a jolt, and the Tiguan R just might be the vehicle that can do that. At the very least, it could end up being the first of many surprises to come out of Volkswagen in the coming years. Granted, that’s also contingent on what the company’s plans are for the 2014 Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept, the 2016 Volkswagen Touareg, and the 2014 Volkswagen T-Roc. If Volkswagen pushes through with all these models in the next five years, we could look back to the Tiguan R as the model that really got the ball rolling for the VW’s crossover and SUV lineups.

That’s a lot of pressure on a model that’s still in the planning stage, but such is the nature of the business. If you want to be a player, you have to play by the market’s ever-changing rules.

  • Leave it
    • * No official confirmation from Volkswagen
    • * A Golf R-sourced engine won’t be enough
    • * Still wait-and-see at this point

Source: AutoCar

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