Volkswagen Tiguan (2008-2016)

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a small SUV with the same discreet styling, user-friendly cabin, civilised road manners and efficient engines as the Golf. Offered with front- or four-wheel drive, the latter is ideal for those who want to tow, while there’s an Escape version for anyone who wants to do some light off-roading. The Tiguan impresses with its refinement, high-quality cabin and practicality, but if value is one of your priorities you might be less keen as the Tiguan is a premium car. However, its build quality, refinement and spacious cabin make the high prices justifiable, while equipment levels are good too.

Key dates

2/08: The Tiguan arrives with 1.4 TSI petrol or 138bhp 2.0 TDI diesel engines. There are S, SE and Sport trims, with Escape offering greater off-road capabilities thanks to underbody protection, hill descent control and a redesigned nose for a steeper approach angle.

4/08: A 168bhp 2.0 TDI engine joins the range.

10/08: A 2.0 TSI engine is now available in 168bhp or 198bhp guises.

11/08: The Tiguan initially came with 4WD only; from this point on there are 1.4 TSI and 2.0 TDI 140 front-wheel drive options.

9/11: A facelift brings a 2.0 TDi 110 engine, more efficient powerplants and extra equipment.

10/12: R-Line trim brings sportier design features.

8/13: The Tiguan Match replaces the SE


  • The 2.0 TDi engine can stall easily when starting off, if you don’t use the revs, so watch for worn clutches.
  • Rattles aren’t unknown; some owners have found that it’s down to broken front suspension springs.
  • Air-con failures have been known, but it’s usually down to the switchgear failing, rather than the compressor.
  • Faulty electrics can be down to damaged fuseboxes, which can melt because of the high currents going through them.
  • The power assisted steering can fail, especially in sub-zero temperatures. It’s usually a control unit failure, but it can be the steering rack itself.
  • The electronic parking brake can refuse to release, because the driver’s seatbelt isn’t latched, or the clutch isn’t fully depressed.
  • The alarm can sound for no apparent reason, especially in cold weather. Adjusting the sensitivity can make the difference – but not always.

We like

  • Build quality
  • Efficient engines
  • Spacious cabin
  • Clear dash
  • Refinement
  • Tidy handling

We don’t like

  • Some reliability issues
  • Anonymous design


Volkswagen Phaeton (2003-2015)

The Volkswagen Phaeton never made sense as a new purchase thanks to high prices and heavy depreciation. But as a used buy it can be a far more sensible purchase because for surprisingly little money you can buy a luxury saloon that’s spacious, fully equipped, comfortable and refined. As the most expensive mainstream production Volkswagen ever, ther Phaeton also comes with fabulous build quality as standard, but even diesel models are thirsty and other running costs can be high. It doesn’t help that this incredibly complex car isn’t always as reliable as you might hope, so don’t expect to run a Phaeton for Passat money.


Key dates

6/03: The Phaeton arrives, with 3.2 V6 or 6.0 W12 petrol engines.

11/03: There are now 4.2 V8 petrol and 5.0 V10 TDi options. 

4/04: A long-wheelbase Phaeton is introduced. It’s available with all engines except the 3.2 V6.

10/04: A 3.0 TDi joins the range; it quickly became the most popular model. 

1/09: There’s an overhauled interior with revised climate control, new instruments and touch-screen multi-media.

11/09: A further facelift brings a reprofiled nose and extra equipment. There’s now 3.0 TDi power only; a 6.0 W12 is available to special order however.



  • Beware failed headlight bulbs; replacing them is very time-consuming and if you’re really unlucky it may be that an ECU has failed rather than a bulb.
  • There’s a separate motor for each windscreen wiper and failure of one can cause problems with the other if they collide.
  • Some Phaetons have five seats, others have four. Three seats in the back is the most common.
  • Avoid cars without a full service history; even if the history is complete, look at who has done the work.
  • Most Phaeton issues centre on the electrics and electronics, so ensure that absolutely everything works.
  • The wiring loom that runs into the nearside of the bootlid has an outer sheathing. This wears through, potentially leading to short circuits.
  • Footwells can fill with water, damaging the electronics, if the sunroof drain tubes or plenum chambers (at the base of the windscreen) fill with debris.


We like

  • Value
  • Refinement
  • Equipment levels
  • Build quality
  • Spacious cabin


We don’t like

  • High running costs
  • Looks like a Passat
  • Can be unreliable