Sarimbun Scout Camp, Singapore - The VW Tiguan 2.0 TSI 4Motion 'Elegance' isn't typically the sort of car you'd associate with off-roading.
Yet here we are at the Sarimbun Scout Camp to put VW's popular crossover through its paces as we traverse mud, ruts and generally knobbly terrain.
Mind you, it isn't a hardcore course with water crossings and aggressive breakover angles that could threaten its body-panels, nor is it intended to be.
Instead it's designed to showcase the Tiguan's off-road abilities by showing it can if you really want to, especially if you plan on visiting work-sites or drive through plantation and kampung roads up North when the border eventually reopens.
If you're like us, and have become generally fatigued by rugged-looking 2WD crossover pretenders that dig-in at the slightest hint of mud, the Tiguan is a welcome breath of fresh air.
We like that the Tiguan doesn't wear all the usual trappings that brands like to adopt for their 'rugged lifestyle' adventure vehicles, even if they can't always walk the talk.
It's a nice change that VW hasn't gone overboard with the off-road aesthetics, a pit that many brands have a tendency to fall into if they're trying to compensate for models that lack genuine off-road talent.
Two models are available for Singapore – Elegance (S$179,900 w/COE at time of writing) and R-Line (S$193,900 w/COE at time of writing).
However, the differences are in trim and equipment, because they are mechanically identical, which means 4Motion all-wheel-drive, 7spd dual-clutch DSG and 2.0-litre TSI engine that produces a punchy 190hp/320Nm.
Most distinctive is the Tiguan's Touareg-esque front grille and raised bonnet, which create a strong and sophisticated impression for its posh-roader experience.
The R-Line gets 20-inch rims and a bling, sporty body-kit, but it will be the tech differences in the cabin that could tip the odds in its favour over the Elegance.
We personally like the 'Elegance' because of its subtle, low-key looks and cosseting ride offered by the 19-inch footwear.
Despite the Tiguan's refined looks and excellent on-road manners, you'd be surprised at the amount of off-road abuse you can throw its way as it gets down and really dirty.
What's impressive is how rigid the Tiguan's body-shell is and one point to flex is how little flex it has, because we discovered the doors still lined-up perfectly even with indecent, 'peepshow' levels of articulation.
In addition to the on-road Drive modes, there's also a dedicated 'Off-Road' mode under the 4Motion Active Control system to select for when the going gets rough.
Both cars get the same 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro instrument cluster.
However, the ‘Elegance’ gets the 8inch ‘Composition’ media system versus the R-Line’s larger 9.2inch ‘Discover Pro’.
Also, the R-Line features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for easy syncing of one's smart devices.
On the whole, the cabin isn't over-digitised and has a great blend of lux, comfort, tech and utility, and the Tiguan should make for a welcome addition to active lifestyle households…
...Or at the very least, those who want to look like they have active lifestyles!
VW TIGUAN 2.0 TSI 4MOTION 'ELEGANCE'
Engine 1984cc, inline4, turbocharged
Transmission 7spd DSG
Top Speed 214km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.9l/100km