Volkswagen says the Tiguan's name is a cross between "tiger" and "iguana". But the first-generation Tiguan, launched in 2007, was exotic only in name. It was a solid compact crossover, but was functional and unexciting.
The second-generation Tiguan is different. It is not only well- equipped, but boasts a level of refinement which might worry even Audi. It looks sharper and more dynamic than before. It is 33mm lower and 30mm wider, giving it a more athletic stance.
As I stood next to the car, I was surprised by how much larger it appears compared with the previous one. But according to VW, it is 82kg lighter, which is impressive.
Adding to the Tiguan's road presence is its overall length, which is extended by 60mm. And its interior is roomier because its wheelbase is 77mm longer. Which means the overhangs are now shorter.
Indeed, the new Tiguan's second row accommodates three adults more easily than its predecessor. There is more headroom and legroom, and the backrests can be reclined further too. Backseat passengers can also set their own air-conditioning temperature.
SPECS/VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 2.0TSI
Price: To be announced
Engine: Turbocharged 1,984cc 16-valves inline-4
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with manual select
Power: 180bhp at 3,940-6,000rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,500-3,940rpm
0-100kmh: 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 208kmh (governed)
Fuel consumption: 7.4 litres/ 100km
Agent: Volkswagen Centre Singapore
Also roomier this time around is the car's boot. Thanks to clever design, capacity has increased by 145 litres to 615. And mind you, that is with the rear seats upright.
Even more impressive is its cockpit, which can be specified with Active Info Display - an all- digital instrument cluster similar to Audi's "virtual cockpit".
All-round visibility is improved, thanks to its lower dashboard. At the wheel, I no longer feel like I am perched on the seat.
The Tiguan's front seats are also more comfortable. They offer a cushier springing action, which supposedly makes you feel better when you are driving off-road. Most Tiguans, however, will be driven only on tarmac, so VW made sure it has good on-road manners.
The test-car is equipped with a turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine that produces 180bhp and 320Nm. There is plenty of low-end poke, but, more importantly, its delivery is smoother and more linear compared with the previous 2-litre. Certainly, it feels slightly jerky when moving off from a standstill.
The benchmark century dash takes 7.7 seconds, but the car's overall refinement makes it seem slower. But it also means that this VW will feel solid and composed even when you are cruising at 180kmh.
I found the car's ride quality to be very pliant, especially when compared with its predecessor. Its chassis, which is torsionally stiffer, also helps in this regard. Indeed, driving on Berlin's cobblestone streets in Sport mode does not upset it.
Its electric power steering, however, left me wanting. Although the helm is light and responsive, it lacks feel and feedback.
Helping improve driver confidence is its 4Motion all-wheel- drive system. For the first time, it lets drivers choose among four settings (Snow, On-Road, Off-Road and Off-Road with customisable options) via a rotary dial.
On a short off-road course, it makes short work of muddy terrain, despite not being shod with chunkier offroad tyres. The grassy knolls and unpaved carparks in Singapore will be a cinch.
Given everything it has to offer, this "tiger-iguana" will appeal to more buyers when it reaches the Republic later this year.
• The writer is with Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.