Some things never change. When Volkswagen launched the Tiguan in 2008 (as a 2009 model), executives told us the possibility of a diesel-powered variant arriving in the U.S. was “under investigation.” Fast forward three years: VW is launching the revised 2012 Tiguan, and officials again say a TDI version for the ‘States is again “being investigation.”
What’s the deal? Will the U.S. ever receive a Tiguan TDI? Yes -- but be prepared to wait at least another three years.
Contrary to the notion that Americans disgust diesel-powered vehicles, the lack of a Tiguan TDI in our market isn’t because customers here don’t want one. In fact, according to VW product planner John Ryan, it’s the exact opposite.
“Everyone’s asking us for one,” Ryan said. “Dealers are asking us for one. Customers are asking us for one.” No surprise, considering European-spec models drink roughly 27 percent less fuel than similar models built with Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline I-4.
So, if the people want a diesel Tiguan, what’s the holdup? Ryan says there are two main hurdles:
-Cost: Diesel engine technology itself may not be horribly expensive, but the cost to bring their emission levels in keeping with various regulations certainly is. Tiguan TDI models make use of the same 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 as the Golf TDI and Jetta TDI, but Ryan says the added weight of the Tiguan necessitates the use of a urea-based catalyst system (aka AdBlue) instead of the nitrous oxide storage canister found on the smaller TDI-equipped models.
Volkswagen isn’t unfamiliar with AdBlue-based systems (it already uses AdBlue on both the Passat TDI and the Touareg TDI), but such a design does cost significantly more than a comparable NOx system. This is less of a problem on premium models like the Touareg, but on an entry-level vehicle like the Tiguan, it's a little trickier to add cost without pushing the vehicle's price to an uncompetitive point.
-Supply: Even if America is ready and willing to take the plunge on a Tiguan TDI, VW may not be able to build enough to supply the market. As it stands, most Tiguans sold in Europe are fitted with the diesel, so it’s no surprise the automaker wants to feed its home market first.
Are either of these hurdles insurmountable? Not in the least. In fact, Ryan suggests a Tiguan TDI is quite likely for the next-generation Tiguan, which is expected to launch in 2015.
Tell us: can you wait another three years or so for a diesel compact SUV to hit our shores, or should Volkswagen expedite the project? Send your thoughts in the comments section below.