2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Design Workshop at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show

A longer and sleeker SUV with wider doors

CHICAGO, Illinois — At this year’s Chicago auto show, we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan with designers Johannes Brandsch, Ina Janisch, and Leo Natterer.

The trio was in town from VW’s design headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany and we met at a private design workshop sponsored by Volkswagen.

A bright orange, all-new Tiguan SEL model was the main focus of the breezy discussion. The Tiguan has a turbocharged 2.0-liter TSI inline-4-cylinder engine making 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque.

North American and Chinese versions of the SUV receive a third row seat that adds 10.7 inches to the length over the previous model.

VW claims that two passengers can fit back there, and while that is possible in theory, we wouldn’t recommend attempting this unless you are a certified contortionist. Cargo space has been increased up to 57 percent Volkswagen also alleges.

The long-wheelbase Tiguan made its official debut last month at the Detroit auto show. Like the all-new Atlas, the Tiguan uses VW’s Modular Transverse Matrix architecture.

The rear doors offer a wider access coming and going into the back seat, designer Leo Natterer informs us during a brief demonstration.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Design Workshop Notes

We considered previous design sketches featuring a fatter, more futuristic Tiguan over drinks and snacked on cashew caramel turtles with sea salt and lemon French macaroons during the conversation.

Up close, it is easy to see how the thin line of the tri-bar grille incorporates the LED headlights into its façade and wraps around the front end like small wings.

Inside the small SUV gets a simplistic touch like other recent VWs with a large infotainment touchscreen dominating the center of the console.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Design Workshop Screen

Designer Ina Janisch told us over dinner at Cindy’s rooftop restaurant on Michigan Avenue that interior is all about the passengers.

Janisch was born in Germany and recalls living in Massachusetts during junior high school and taking epic family road trips across America with her parents. Those memories were infused into her team’s latest designs and it shows in this very family friendly vehicle. The all-new Tiguan seems, on paper and in person, a decent people mover for the next generation of road-trippers.

The Tiguan is built in Puebla, Mexico and it goes on sale in North America this summer.

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