First Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

Four Cylinders, Six Speeds, Two Drivelines
Under the hood, precious little has changed. Europeans have their pick of two gasoline engines, but U.S.-spec models will be offered only with VW's ubiquitous 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbocharged I-4. In the Tiguan, this engine pumps out 200 hp from 5100 to 6000 rpm, and 207 lb-ft of torque from 1700 to 5000 rpm. Euro-spec Tiguans are now available with Volkswagen's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but those built for North America retain a conventional six-speed automatic - although VW has added an extra overdrive gear (there are now two) and altered both shift points and torque converter lockup to help increase fuel economy.

Finalized EPA numbers are still a few weeks off, but officials say the revised gearbox reportedly boosts highway fuel economy by 15 percent. If true, expect front-wheel-drive Tiguans to be rated close to 20/29 mpg (city/highway), while those equipped with the optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive system should post something close to 19/29 mpg. If so, that puts the all-wheel-drive Tiguan on par with most of its competitors, although the front-wheel-drive model will likely be trumped by almost every small SUV, apart from the CR-V and the Toyota RAV4.

Europeans can order Tiguans with a six-speed manual transmission on any trim level and in both front- and all-wheel-drive forms. In America, it's a different story: here, the six-speed manual is offered only on the entry-level S with front-wheel drive. Even so, VW sells very few vehicles so equipped - presently, fewer than 1 percent of all Tiguans delivered in the U.S. are built with three pedals.

During our brief drive in Germany, we had access to a number of 2012 Tiguans, but none with a powertrain configuration that will be available stateside. In fact, the closest we came to sampling a U.S.-spec vehicle paired a 2.0T with a six-speed manual and 4Motion. Unsurprisingly, VW's 2.0T continues to be a gem of an engine, offering spritely acceleration and little turbo lag. Shift action on the six-speed manual was somewhat rubbery, although the clutch action itself was nicely weighted and very linear.

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