Never a real fan of the SUV, Iain Robertson is intrigued when some manufacturers decide to factor-in additional seating capacity, to replicate fast-disappearing MPV-type seating arrangements but, to be fair, VW probably does it better than others.

No longer having a need to transport my children to Saturday soccer matches, or weekday extra-curricular activities, usually with their little chums in tow, my personal requirement for seven seats in a car no longer exists. Yet, I know of countless other, five-seater car owners, who fret about return trips and illegal overloading, for whom the latest version of the delightfully up-market Tiguan Allspace would be a godsend.

I hear on the grapevine that a lot of SUV customers, who believed that they were driving new cars that featured 4WD, now feel ever-so-slightly ‘conned’ by the lack of traction in gymkhana fields, or when trying to extricate themselves from green-belt overflow car parks. Much like the recently launched T-Roc, VW offers an all-wheel-driven transmission (4Motion) in more than half of its Tiguan model line-up, a dynamic strength that is a virtual guarantee of extra business for the German giant.

Yet, at 4.7m in length, the Tiguan is still comfortably shorter than some of the clomping great off-roaders that always seem to clutter the back lanes and grass verges in the vicinity of local schools, twice-a-day and often at weekends too. Of major benefit to owners struggling with dimensions, all four corners can be judged from the driving seat and, if that still creates parking heavy weather, the optional parallel, or perpendicular, parking aids are available, which work mysteriously well.

While I am saddened by the relative demise of the eminently practical MPV, from a purely personal viewpoint, I have always liked the Tiguan and the Allspace version retains its well-chiselled good looks that have aided its Middle England and commuter-belt popularity. However, it is the allure of that finely interlinked VW badge that makes the Allspace so singularly painless to contemplate and live with ultimately. Because it’s a VeeDub, there is an automatic ‘like’ button that clicks in our psyches, which makes the brand a default option for the vast majority of families; an excellent 29,121 Tiguans were sold in the UK in 2017 alone, to make it VW’s third best-selling model, behind Golf and Polo.

The version sampled for this test piece is the penultimate model, only superseded by the 236bhp bi-turbo variant of the tried and trusted 2.0-litre TDi engine. In test form, it develops a moderate 187bhp, with a responsive 295lbs ft of torque, which I believe makes it the best balanced and most ‘costs-efficient’ of the range. Promising an Official Combined 47.9mpg from a set-up that emits 153g/km CO2, being able to despatch the benchmark 0-60mph acceleration time in a mere 8.3s, before rustling on to a top speed of 130mph, can be regarded as valuable bonuses. Of course, VW cannot afford to make claims, these days, that prove impossible to support, so you can take it for granted that its figures are true. There are 1.4 and 2.0-litre petrol options (front-driven, although the 177bhp 2.0TSi can be obtained with 4WD), as well as 147bhp TDi alternatives, some operating through 6-speed manual gearboxes, although the test car features the exquisite and practical 7-speed DSG (automated, twin-clutch manual).

In SEL trim, the Allspace is well-equipped for its £37,730 price tag, although the following extra-cost items boost the on-the-road price to £42,935: dynamic chassis control £810, wireless smartphone charger £335, TPMS £135, Vienna hide upholstery £1,615, variable ratio power steering £200, towbar £730 and both park assist and rear-view camera at £810. The Blue Silk paint finish is also extra cost (£570), although it infuriates me that paint is now extra-cost on ALL cars. I await the day that buyers revolt and demand that their cars be delivered in primer…which would teach somebody a lesson, for sure. When specifying your Tiguan Allspace, you need to remember that creeping over a £40k notional limit will hike upwards its road tax value negatively (in terms of your back pocket).

Naturally, seven seats will not be needed a lot of the time and the additional wheelbase and inner body length creates a 700-litres load space, once the third row of seats is lowered into the floor; an operation that is child-play. Continue the folding process with the middle row of three seats and the luggage room, up to the top of the seat-backs, is an outstanding 1,775-litres, which means that the occasional movement of light furniture and white goods is more than feasible, especially as the powered rear hatchback opens both wide and high enough. I cannot confirm the comfort levels of the fully-upholstered rearmost seats, because I cannot fit back there, however, they look suitable for occupants no taller than 1.6m for modest journeys. The middle-row occupants fare a little better, although making space for back seat occupants is fiddly.

In case you wondered how VW manages to extend a car’s standard shape and still make it look all of a piece, the bonnet line has been raised slightly, the roof marginally redesigned and both the side windows and body addenda have been mildly reshaped. As far as the cabin is concerned, the customary high-end VW build quality and dashboard detailing remains much as before. Hopping from one VW model to another demands only minor acclimatisation, as the company’s reputation for first-rate ergonomics (the art of making controls and humans interface with ease) remains sacrosanct.

A 12.3-inch TFT programmable display screen allows various menus to be displayed, according to driver requirements (it can be customised, to incorporate a full map layout, if so desired), while the main instrument binnacle contains the usual enhanced clarity dials for speedometer and rev-counter readings, with information screen separating them. A panoramic roof sits above the occupants featuring ambient LED illumination, with 3Zone climate control that serves the comfort needs of all occupants. The usual VW 8.0-inch touchscreen sits at the top of the centre-stack.

The only non-standard switch is the mode dial for the 4Motion active control that contains on-road, snow and a couple of off-road settings to meet the driver’s, conditions dependent demands. There is plenty of storage space around the cabin and auto-on lamps and wipers, as well as heated washer-jets are additional convenience features. The driveability of the Tiguan Allspace is superb, with compliant and supple suspension that affords a moderately cosseting ride and well-compromised handling for a multi-surface machine. Head-sway, a popular 4×4-class aberration, does exist, which will either create familiarity for VW owners moving from other brands, or will be initially unsettling but soon accepted as par for the course in a 4×4. The steering reacts quickly both on and off-road, while also absorbing severe bumps, without wresting the wheel away from the driver’s control. The brakes provide assured stopping power.

In a vehicle market sector that grew by over 20% last year, the VW Tiguan is holding its own and retaining a high degree of popularity, which will be bolstered by the introduction of the sportier R-Line models later in 2018.

Conclusion:   Volkswagen offers the consummate blend of classy detailing in a surprisingly classless package. Assuredly handsome, adding two extra seats and heaps of additional load space will only serve to enhance the model’s reputation and strong resale values ensure that rental rates can be held at competitive levels for those customers taking advantage of leasing options. Tiguan Allspace is a good car for family transportation.

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).