2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Since the VW Tiguan was launched last autumn, the compact Wolfsburg off-roader has been the favorite of German off-road vehicle drivers. A comparison with the new Ford Kuga shows that it doesn't have to stay that way.
By Jochen Knoblach
The preparations for the start have been completed. Sales will officially begin next Saturday. All over Germany, 12,887 large posters announce the upcoming event, the last demonstration cars are rolling to the dealers and definitely anything but coincidentally the Euro NCAP crash testers finally reported in this that the new Ford Kuga is the safest car in its class. At Ford they are confident and expect a lot of new customers. If the forecasts of the marketing strategists come true, six out of ten Kuga buyers will not have owned a Ford before. Does the VW Tiguan now have to tremble, which has become the darling of the local SUV customers from a standing start? To find out, we arranged a meeting between the two rivals: Ford Kuga TDCi 4x4 versus VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion.
Here and there
If you don't look at the cars first, but at the sober data, you could get the impression that it is about a single car. Both measure almost four and a half meters in length, have a two-liter diesel under the hood, a large tailgate and permanent all-wheel drive.
But just one look at the body is enough to see the differences. While the VW Tiguan embodies the stability and solidity of Lower Saxony to a certain extent, the Kuga is the fashionable, dynamic challenger for whom the journey is obviously more important than arriving. Taste will decide which one likes whom. And the success of the Tiguan shows that VW cannot be so wrong. But the Kuga already has a large fan base.
In and on
Taking a seat behind the steering wheel of the two cars, the impressions are confirmed. The Tiguan appears neat, the Kuga fresh and modern. It seems a bit as if a wall unit and a flat-screen TV are meeting here.
If you ignore the fact that there is no space for a large water bottle in the Ford, there is nothing wrong with the practicality of both cars. In both you sit very comfortably and at the same height: about 70 centimeters above the asphalt.
Bag and pack
This is where the Volkswagen scores. It is wider on the inside and offers noticeably more knee room in the second row of seats. In addition, the rear passengers of the Tiguan can get in and out more easily thanks to the larger door openings. The Ford defends itself with the loading compartment behind the large tailgate. According to the data sheet, this is smaller than that of the Tiguan (410 instead of 470 liters), but it has a larger footprint and is above all a bit wider.
However, the VW countered with a rear seat bench that can be moved lengthways by 16 centimeters as standard. The Kuga has to fit. On the other hand, the backseat can also be folded down so that the floor of the cargo area is level with the billiard table. And then the compensation: With the Kuga, the rear window can be opened separately, which can be very helpful in tight parking spaces.
Start and go
A two-liter diesel is available for each. For the time being, there is no alternative to this at Ford. A 200 hp 2.5-liter petrol engine is not due to follow until the end of the year. VW, however, is already offering the Tiguan with a 150 hp 1.4-liter petrol engine.
Here, however, two diesels are facing each other. Both work with common rail injection. The Ford engine, which is actually a Peugeot unit, delivers 136 hp, while the VW machine delivers 140 hp. With the Tiguan, you start in the conventional way with the key. With the Kuga, this is done at the push of a button. In both vehicles, the power reaches the road via a six-speed manual transmission, permanent all-wheel drive and 235 17-inch model.
Drive and save
A few hundred meters are enough here to find out that the Kuga is not making an empty promise with its outfit. One thing is clear: the Ford is the sportier car, and it is above all the steering that leads to this realization. It is extremely direct and allows the Kuga to react so immediately to commands that it could almost be criticized as nervous if its characteristics could not be varied in three stages at the push of a button. That is not possible with the Tiguan. Its steering is much more indirect, however, by no means callous and always binding.
It is also noteworthy that the Kuga does not have any worse suspension despite its sporty design. Both cars are equivalent here. They are tight but do not require any concessions to comfort. The Ford is still better in two respects. Its gearbox feels more harmonious. In addition, the gearshift lever can be guided smoothly through the alleys, whereas the box of the Tiguan, although not wobbly, looks a bit brittle and dry. In addition, the VW engine runs rougher under load and lets vibrations be felt.
In terms of power development, however, both are on par. According to the manufacturer, the average consumption of the Tiguan is slightly higher. 6.9 liters of diesel are estimated per 100 kilometers. Ford provides 6.4 liters for the Kuga. The surprise was all the greater when the VW petrol pump turned out to be the more frugal car. The test car, which weighed 1665 kilograms (!), Burned 6.7 liters per 100 kilometers on country roads and motorways. The 50 kilogram lighter Kuga required 7.0 liters during the parallel journey.
Take and give
According to the price list, there is hardly any difference. The Kuga costs 30,500 euros in the lavish “Titanium” equipment. The Tiguan is on the list as “Sport and Style” at 30,700 euros. However, the cars are equipped differently.
Although ESP, six airbags and 17-inch alloy wheels are always part of the standard equipment, the Kuga, which also offers automatic air conditioning and a rear window that can be opened separately, costs extra for a CD radio. The sliding rear seat bench, tire pressure monitor and audio system are standard on the Tiguan.
In fact, every car drives the way it looks. The Tiguan is the more functional car, the Kuga is tailored primarily to the passengers in row one, who should be offered driving pleasure. Overall, the two cars are so close together that you can confidently follow your gut decision. In any case, VW should now sell a few Tiguan less.
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