2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid launch review
The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid edition has all the punch of a full-fruit Tiguan R at a cheaper price. Let’s find out why.
- Surprisingly spacious
- Rivals are few
- New ‘downgrade’ seats look and feel great
- Doesn’t excite quite as much as the Golf R
- Loses safety equipment
- No wireless phone charger
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid
To help ease production delays caused by parts shortages, Volkswagen has created the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition. It revises the Grid nameplate last used on the Golf R Grid, which did away with certain features in the pursuit of a ‘less is more’ purist’s hot hatch.
In the Tiguan R Grid’s circumstance, a performance-oriented medium SUV, this also conveniently allows VW to ease the production delays partly caused by semiconductor shortages.
It also comes at a $6500 saving compared to the regular Tiguan R. We’ve been to the variant’s launch to see whether this distilled product continues to offer the same Tiguan R thrills at a cut-rate price.
How much does the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid cost in Australia?
The Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid comes with fewer features, so naturally Volkswagen should charge less. In this case it’s $6500 saving compared to the normal Tiguan, which means a $63,990 price tag (plus on-road costs).
Regarding the missing features, Grid owners go without matrix LED headlights (supplied with LED headlights with auto high beams), there is no head-up display or power tailgate, and it loses out on the tail-light scrolling indicators.
Some safety features have also been deleted, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a proactive passenger protection system.
Inside the cabin, the Tiguan R’s comfort seats are replaced by single-piece front seats without electric adjustment.
These omissions allow Volkswagen to sidestep production delays caused by component shortages.
The good news? Volkswagen hasn’t touched the Tiguan R’s driveline components, which means it is powered by the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine. This means you get an identical 235kW/400Nm to the regular Tiguan R. Power is sent to VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Eagle-eyed VW fans will pick out a Tiguan R Grid by its black mirrors, black roof rails, and dark grille elements. You still get R hallmarks such as 21-inch Estoril alloy wheels, quad exhausts, blue brake callipers, and angular, sporty-styled bumpers.
The Tiguan R Grid stands almost on its own as a performance SUV at its price point, though it has some competition from sister-brand Cupra’s Ateca VZx, plus the cheaper Hyundai Kona N. However, these two rivals are smaller in size.
|Key details||2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid|
|Price||$63,990 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Dolphin Grey Metallic|
|Options||Sunroof – $2100|
|Price as tested||$66,090 plus on-road costs|
|Rivals||Cupra Ateca VZx | Hyundai Kona N | Audi SQ2|
How much space does the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid have inside?
Sit inside the cabin and it’s all very obviously a performance SUV – perhaps even more so than the regular Tiguan R due to the racy single-piece seats. Though they’re not covered in luxurious Nappa leather, the suede and cloth fabrics hold you in tight.
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Blue R-specific graphics help set the Tiguan R Grid aside from run-of-the-mill Tiguans with R-Line kit. Materials used throughout the cabin are great quality, while there are stand-out pieces of trim such as carbon-effect inlays on the dash.
In addition to all the regular handy storage spots throughout the front row, there are additional hidey-holes for odds and ends in case you need them. Most obvious is a pair of cupholders (which fold away for enhanced useability of the cubby) and a small centre console bin sits just behind. Just below the dash is a slot for storing your phone, though it notably misses a wireless phone charger (which the smaller T-Roc R gets).
Elsewhere you’ve got a lidded storage bin on top of the dash, a sizeable glovebox (with air-con function), and two wide door bins for large bottles (which are felt-lined). There’s also a slide-out tray beneath the seat to hide items away.
Second-row passengers are well catered for with generous headroom, space for legs, and a load of footroom to stretch out in. Amenities-wise, the space stocks a pair of USB ports, air vents, map pockets, 12-volt power, and a fold-down centre armrest. Though the seats don’t quite give off the same racy vibe of the front pews, the bench is comfortable. Our car was fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof, which lets in a huge amount of light for an airy ambience.
Though the Grid misses out on the power tailgate, the same 615L boot remains behind the door. This can expand to 1655L with the second-row seats folded. There are bag hooks and seat-fold levers within the boot, so it’s easy to maximise space if you’re already at the rear of the car.
|2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid|
|Boot volume||615L seats up
1655L seats folded
Does the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
Handling the infotainment is the same-sized 9.2-inch digital display mounted within the central dash, while the driver is also faced by a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.
The software is simple to use and skip between functions, thanks in part to shortcuts dotted alongside the screen. The displays are bright and crisp, and navigation maps look great on the infotainment or the cluster.
The Tiguan is one of Volkswagen’s legacy products that continues to use standalone buttons for things like air-conditioning. This is very handy for on-the-fly tweaking, far better than infotainment-based settings that are finicky to use. Unfortunately, these settings are touch-capacitive, which are a bit trickier to use than traditional buttons and dials. It’s the same story for the steering wheel buttons.
Digital radio is offered as standard, as is wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. Where sometimes I bypass the native infotainment system for the familiar and easy CarPlay, I’m more than happy to use the car-based infotainment software inside the Tiguan R. Especially in the case of wireless CarPlay randomly disconnecting, which happened often.
Is the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid a safe car?
The Volkswagen Tiguan recorded a five-star ANCAP safety rating back in 2016, though this score expired in December 2022. Because ANCAP updates testing protocols every couple of years, scores from so far back are considered out of date and cannot be compared against more recent scores from rival vehicles.
It is unknown how the Tiguan R Grid would score against newer criteria in 2023, but we can assume that, because Volkswagen has removed some active safety features, it would not fare as well.
|2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid|
What safety technology does the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid have?
The normal Tiguan R is fitted with an array of active safety measures such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, reverse manoeuvre braking, blind-spot monitor with steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, proactive passenger protection system, driver fatigue monitoring, matrix LED headlights that can mask off approaching traffic while maintaining high-beam spread around vehicles, 360-degree cameras, and semi-autonomous parking assist.
The Grid variant misses out on rear-cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, matrix LED headlights, and the proactive passenger protection system.
How much does the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid cost to maintain?
A five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty is standard on all Volkswagens sold in Australia. From new, they also come with a year’s coverage of roadside assistance.
You can save money on servicing by opting for a VW Care Plan package, which bundles either three or five services into an upfront payment. For the three-year package VW charges $1700, while a five-year package costs $3200.
Compared to pay-as-you-go, this represents a saving of $222 over three years or $1081 over five.
An estimate for comprehensive insurance for the Tiguan R Grid comes out to $1330 per year on a comparative quote based on a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1700 (3 years)
$3200 (5 years)
Is the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid fuel-efficient?
Volkswagen rates the Tiguan R with a combined 8.8 litres per 100km fuel consumption. During our test, we saw fuel economy closer to 11.0L/100km.
Only 98-octane fuel is recommended for the 58L fuel tank, so there’s no skimping on refills. This may be a problem if you venture out into the country as 98-octane premium is not always easy to find.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.8L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||11.0L/100km|
|Fuel type||98-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||58L|
What is the Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid like to drive?
As with other hotted-up Volkswagens, the 2023 Tiguan R Grid Edition specifies the ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0-litre EA888 four-cylinder engine, which is tuned to 235kW/400Nm.
Not only are these the exact same outputs as you’ll get out of the regular Tiguan R, they’re also identical to the highly-regarded VW Golf R which won the Best Hot Hatch category at the 2023 Drive Car of the Year awards.
In the Tiguan R Grid it must shift extra weight (this mid-size SUV weighs 1737kg) compared with the Golf R, it doesn’t stop the Tiguan R feeling very quick for its size.
The fact that there’s no real alternative to this performance SUV is a shame, though it doesn’t simply get praise because it’s the only one of its kind. The Tiguan R is rapid when you put your foot down and carries speed like no circa $70K SUV should.
The Tiguan R is wonderfully capable around a set of twisting and turning roads. It piles on speed quickly from a standstill and exudes a crisp ‘whump’ noise as the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox slicks into the next gear, ready to do it all again.
While it doesn’t press you into the seat-back with quite the same vigour as the Golf R or T-Roc R, the Tiguan R Grid still sprints from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds and feels entirely fast from the seat of the pants.
It’s even able to carry speed diligently through corners. The steering is nice and direct and the body does its best to stay as unperturbed as possible thanks to adaptive dampers.
There isn’t outright connection felt through the steering wheel, which can make it difficult to gauge what’s going on underfoot, but the all-wheel-drive system is deftly capable of putting the power down to the ground. What it lacks in raw character, at least the Tiguan R Grid makes up for it with a practical side. It’s not going to jar on the school run or irritate passengers on road trips.
There are four main drivetrain settings, plus a set of off-road-focused modes in case the going gets rough. The driver can easily call up the most hardcore R mode using a steering-wheel-mounted button, plus there are the requisite shift paddles behind the wheel if desired.
The transmission is smooth and responsive to changing throttle inputs, though it does favour a downshift unless you’re in ultimate R mode. Ride comfort is surprisingly well managed for a performance SUV. It’s still certainly a firmer-sprung car compared to regular mid-size SUVs, because it picks up minor imperfections like you wouldn’t normally expect, but the Tiguan R Grid absorbs major impacts and doesn’t crash over speed humps.
It mightn’t exude the same exuberant character we’ve come to love from the Mark 8 Golf R, but the Tiguan R Grid still impresses on the right road – with added practicality in the mix too.
|Key details||2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||235kW @ 6500rpm|
|Torque||400Nm @ 2000–5600rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Spare tyre type||Tyre repair kit|
|Tow rating||2200kg braked
Should I buy a Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid?
Volkswagen already has a tight handle on performance-focused mid-size SUVs – no other brand really comes close to its performance for the price you pay.
This new, more affordable variant brings a substantial saving over a regular Tiguan R while not losing too much in the way of equipment. That it misses out on Nappa leather, a powered tailgate, and fancy lights is not really an issue.
However, the omission of rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring are unfortunate in what is ostensibly a family-sized SUV.
In saying that, if they’re losses you can weather, then the Tiguan R Grid is a worthy cut-price look-in. Especially if it helps you jump the queue and pay less.