Volkswagen’s American fortune will not come by way of an electric, next-generation Beetle. No, the automaker’s U.S. game plan rests firmly on the success of existing and future utility vehicles. With no new models kicking around to bring to L.A., the automaker decked out its recently introduced second-generation Tiguan in ever-so-edgy R-Line trim and headed to the show.
Featuring an added (but not heaping) dose of visual aggression, the Tiguan R-Line, available in the first quarter of 2018, should give crossover buyers something new to look at while the company fleshes out its lineup with new tenants. It’s early days yet, but it seems the company’s crossover push is already working.
Let’s be honestÂ â€” finding the differences between the R-Line and another uplevel Tiguan would be much more difficult if the model shown above wasn’t white. Clearly, adding the R-Line package brings a revamped lower fascia with black-ringed air intakes, front fender badging, a blacked-out rear diffuser, and a choice of edgier 19- and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Inside, there’s no shortage of glittery reminders that this Tiguan is an extra-special one. Even the welcome screen informs you of this fact.
The removal of the stock Tiguan’s side sill and wheel arch cladding lends the impression that this Tiguan’s home is the mean streets of Anytown, USA, not the woods. Of course, appearances aside, there’s no real difference between the R-Line and its Tiguan siblings. The same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rests under the hood, making the same 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, and connected to the same eight-speed automatic. (A powertrain described as “unresponsive” and “lackadaisical” in a recent TTAC review.)
If R-Line is your thing, prepare to pay more for it. The package only applies to the Tiguan SEL and SEL Premium, and the markup amounts toÂ 1,795 for the lesser trim, $1,495 for the range-topper.
When it debuted in early summer, the 2018 Tiguan represented a more Americanized version of the crossover, stretching some 5 inches longer than a Toyota RAV4. The former Tiguan (which soldiers on as the Tiguan Limited), was often criticized for its puny size. There’s even a third row on offer if you feel like handing over an extra $500.
While the new Tiguan’s performance isn’t exactly scorching, the model’s sales performance is (so far) quite the opposite. By keeping the old model on hand, the nameplate recorded its second-best U.S. sales month in October, with volume rising 54 percent, year-over-year. September saw a year-over-year sales gain of 44 percent.
Meanwhile, there’s new volume rolling in from the midsize Atlas SUV, introduced this past spring. Between them, the Atlas and Tiguan are making up for lost sales in the traditional passenger car segment. So far in 2017, only one month has seen a sales drop compared to last year’s Volkswagen brand figures. North of the border, sales are on track to surpass last year’s figures by a healthy margin.