New Volkswagen Tiguan R: Cupra Ateca rival hits the road

Volkswagen looks to be readying a range-topping R-branded performance version of the Tiguan SUV, with new spy images showing the car completely undisguised. 

While initially appearing to be an example of the high-end Tiguan R-Line, tell-tale signs that this is something more special include a visible intercooler behind the lower air intake, larger brakes and, most notably, the same quad tailpipes as the Golf R hatchback.

The last time a performance-enhanced Tiguan mule was seen testing in and around the Nürburgring was 2017, when snappers caught a prototype featuring a five-cylinder turbo motor likely sourced from the Audi RS Q3. 

Though VW officials have yet to comment, it is thought that a hot Tiguan was delayed for two significant reasons. First, the model was shuffled down the priority order while the group rushed to homologate its cars under the new WLTP testing regime. Second, the relaunch of Cupra as a separate brand in its own right meant a hot Ateca was pushed to the front of the development queue. 

The Tiguan R is expected to now feature the same 296bhp EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit as found in a number of VW Group performance models, including the Cupra Ateca and Golf R. Mated to four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it should mean a 0-62mph time of around five seconds. Chassis upgrades will feature, too.

No confirmation of a launch date has been communicated yet. However, the sighting of these prototypes adds weight to earlier rumours that a Tiguan R would launch before the year is out. 

At the reveal of the smaller T-Roc R SUV, R division boss Jost Capito said that his task is to make the sub-brand “to Volkswagen what M is for BMW”. He went on to say: “For the future, the Golf and T-Roc will not be the only ones, that’s for sure.”