Saturday, April 21

Used twin test: Ford Kuga v Volkswagen Tiguan

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SUVs continue to grow in popularity. Thanks to big brands such as Ford and Volkswagen, there are now plenty of secondhand machines on the market: here, we show you how you can pick up an enviable family-friendly hold-all for less than £9000, one that will still cut a dash of desirability while on the school run.

The original Ford Kuga was one of the first mainstream SUVs to start popularising the breed. Even today, it remains as enjoyable to drive as ever, and you can now get a well-stocked 2011 car for as little as £8500. Volkswagen followed it up with the similarly impressive Tiguan, and even that can now be bought for around £9000.

You do get more for your money with the Ford, though. You certainly get more power, and this shows through on the road, with acceleration from 0-60mph taking around a second less and in-use eagerness generally seeming livelier than the VW. The Tiguan also isn’t as linear, although it’s hardly lethargic and most owners shouldn’t find it too much of a struggle.

Aside from a bit of jitter on rough roads, the Tiguan rides well, and is relaxing on a run. It’s not particularly engaging, but is perfect for those seeking calm comfort. The Ford is a different kettle of fish, with quick, tidy handling and lots of feel through the steering. What’s thus surprising is the fact its ride is tolerable too – firmer than the VW, yes, but never harsh.

The Ford has a clear dashboard layout, but its plastics aren’t as classy as those in the VW, and its seat doesn’t adjust as much. Rear seat space is also a big letdown, lacking head and legroom, while the boot is also small and oddly-shaped. Refinement is mediocre too, with too much wind and road noise on the motorway, in contrast to the very refined Tiguan.

There’s no denying the Ford is a more interesting place to sit than the uninspiring Tiguan, though. It’s also noticeable that, although they’re better than the Ford, its plastics are still not a match for the class best, and feel that bit below par when compared to other Volkswagens.

Volkswagens usually cost more than similar-age Fords, but here the premium has been capped to around £500. And what you spend extra up front to buy the Tiguan may eventually be claimed back in fuel costs: the Kuga average 47.1mpg, whereas the Tiguan averages 48.7mpg. The Tiguan’s lower CO2 also saves £35 a year.

The Kuga is cheaper to service, though, and its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is more reliable, although both brands are similarly rated in the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, scoring above-average rankings.

Which to go for, then? Well, it’s easy to see the appeal of the racy Ford. It’s good looking and fun to drive. However, it’s not actually very good at being a fine family all-rounder, due to its cramped interior and compromised boot. A lack of refinement also pegs it back.

The Tiguan isn’t as much fun, but it is larger, more relaxing and significantly more refined. The interior is bland and plastics aren’t up to the usual VW high standards, but it’s still better than the Ford. That it costs not much more than the Kuga is enough to seal victory here.

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 140 Bluemotion Tech SE 4WD (4 stars)

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £25,645
Price today £9000
Power 138bhp
Torque 236lb ft
​0-60mph 10.2sec
Top speed 116mph
Fuel economy 48.7mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 150g/km


Specifications: Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium 4WD (3 stars)

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price when new £25,645
Price today £8500
Power 160bhp
Torque 236lb ft
​0-60mph 9.3sec
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 159g/km

Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing.

Rob Adams is a writer for WhatCar.


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