Before the season would change, I had to visit somewhere and my family was getting restless as they wanted to do a road trip but not from Mumbai. I had been to Uttarakhand in 2018 and I was astounded by the crazy landscape with amazing mountains all over. Jim Corbett National Park came to my mind, which is one of the largest national parks and home to a large number of tigers. But getting there all the way from Mumbai is a very long road trip! So we took a Rajdhani to Delhi and the road trip started from the Old Delhi railway station. For my last travelogue, I had an MPV but this time I wanted something different! The good folks at Volkswagen were kind enough to send their flagship, the Tiguan!
I am an avid fan of diesel motors for travelling long distances but as we all know all VAG cars now run on petrol only. So the Tiguan is powered by the 1984cc TSI motor producing 190 BHP and 320 Nm of torque. And I was soon to find out how a turbo petrol engine is about to change my whole perspective! We loaded up the car with our luggage and as soon as we got moving from Delhi, my parents wanted to visit a few friends since they came to Delhi for the first time ever! We started moving towards Gurgaon which was in the complete opposite direction of Jim Corbett.
This was like a lunch stop with a few friends that took quite a while and it was already past noon. As the travel to our stay in Jim Corbett was now over 7 hours away I was a bit worried. We were 5 adults in the car and everyone had their luggage for about a week’s time. Moreover, the bags seemed big because Mumbaikars can’t really handle cold weather and we had packed extra winter clothes, just in case. From Gurugram to Ghaziabad it took us almost 2 hours but then the roads opened up and it was time to stretch the car’s legs. Until I got onto the highway the Tiguan was returning about 9.5 km/l but as soon as we got on to the Delhi – Rampur highway the numbers improved and it went up to 12.4 km/l.
I decided to fuel up just so that we don’t have to worry later and then I noticed the infotainment system is just amazing. The TPMS screen had two options, for a normal load the pressure was correct but for a full load, it was a bit low and the way it showcased was really interesting. Fueled up, air pressure checked and we started moving. After crossing Hapur we waited at a dhaba to grab a cup of tea and have a bio break. After the refuelling, it was a complete highway stretch and I was taken aback. Maintaining triple-digit speeds with the car fully loaded, the motor didn’t break a sweat and I was getting an astonishing figure of 16 km/l! This happiness of mine was short-lived as we crossed Moradabad and we had to enter Uttarakhand via Kashipur.
By this time I was set to believe that petrol motors can do long distances efficiently and yet be ready to prowl with just a tap of the throttle. However, the section of Kashipur was a complete mess as the sugar factory there had tractor movements to a great extent and as they were carrying over the limit sugarcane there was traffic with the worst possible road too. There was literally a point where the all-wheel-drive system kept the Tiguan in complete composure and my family didn’t complain much about the bad roads. We got through the section after sunset and reached our destination through a jungle pass which was quite scary to be driven through at night. The adaptive LED lights also known as IQ Lights of the Tiguan gave amazing visibility and it moved according to the steering movement which was just bonkers!
We reached our stay for the night in Sitabani section of Jim Corbett National Park, the drive was a little over 9 hours for just 380 kms which meant our average speed was about 40 km/hr. By the end the Tiguan returned a fuel efficiency of 10.8 km/l which wasn’t too bad considering we hit the worst traffic post our highway stretch. We rested for the night and the plan for day 2 was set as we were supposed to visit Nainital which was about 80 kms away. The next day we had an amazing breakfast and left about 10am. I did notice that we had the only MH registered car in the hotel parking lot. As we left the hotel, the guard was also curious to know if we drove down all the way from Maharashtra.
The road upto Choti Haldwani was great but as Nainital is a hill station in the same range, we had to go uphill on a thin two lane road. It was time to engage the Sport driving mode. While the tarmac was fine for most of the section there were a few bad patches being rectified. I did mention that this will be a bit exciting but to let me know if they feel uncomfortable due to motion sickness. Luckily no one fell ill and everyone enjoyed the drive, especially me as I could push the car without having to worry at all. There was grip at all times and the steering response was so accurate that I could predict and take on the next turn with utmost confidence. This time we didn’t have any luggage yet the car was glued to the road, amazing dynamics with great comfort for everyone inside.
As we reached Nainital, it was even more crowded than what we thought. The dimensions of the Tiguan are such that you have enough room to get around yet you’re comfortable on the inside. It never felt intimidating in tight spaces and hence finding a proper parking spot was not an issue. We had parked it closer to the Tibetian market at the official parking area but that isn’t really managed well. If you aren’t skilled to drive in the mountains you will definitely brush something or some other car while parking here. We did however enjoy the day in Nainital, did the touristy things and visited the snow view mountain top and had amazing momos and noodles at Sonam Fast Food. We got lucky as it was Wednesday and the fast food centre would only serve Vegetarian food. If anyone visits Nainital, grabbing a bite here is a must do.
As we headed back I had made peace with the car that it will not return anywhere above 11 km/l since we were in the hilly region. Yet it was getting a bit addictive as the overall driving experience was almost fatigue free. Even for the passengers it was always comfortable. AC vents for the rear with a fast charging type-c port was something my dad liked a lot as he had to attend a lot of calls during the day yet both of his phones weren’t out of juice. On both the front seats there are special phone pockets which again impressed my whole family and I didn’t notice that until the 3rd day! The side pockets also took in three 1-litre bottles which was very impressive and helpful for keeping stuff while getting around.
The sole reason tourism flourishes in Jim Corbett is because of Jungle Safaris and that was our plan for the next day. We had a late breakfast, I got the car cleaned up as it got a bit too dirty and it was time for the Tiguan to rest as we roamed around in an open top Maruti Gypsy. I did try and ask if we could take the Tiguan instead but the official haves it clear, until I come from a Government clearance and get permissions from the Uttarakhand forest department I can’t take any other car through the safari routes. It was however a great experience where we saw a lot of Deers, a few Antelopes and different types of birds but couldn’t spot a Tiger.
It was, however, a great experience and as we headed back we had planned to have an authentic Kumaoni dinner. The dinner plate was not very different from what we have regularly, it included few rotis, a bowl of dal, rice, potatoes, green vegetable and a salad. The difference was really the spice used in it which was really strong. We felt really homely after having dinner but the spice was quite strong. As we returned to our hotel I had stopped to click a few pictures in a wide plain with a nice mountain backdrop. As a local passed by he advised us not to be out of vehicles as the section I had stopped in is still a wildlife area and it could be very risky. I quickly got back, connected my phone to the car and the CarPlay showcased that it was just an hour to reach back to our hotel.
After being all touristy and enjoying the few days in Uttarakhand it was time to head back to Delhi as we had to catch the return Rajdhani in the evening. We left quite early in the morning and on our breakfast stop we did have some good company. Even the person driving the Audi A4 enquired if we drove all the way down from Maharashtra as he shared his stories of this one being his go-to vehicle. The way German cars are engineering is nothing less than tanks and the quality is just amazing. Meant to hit triple digit speeds yet be calm and composed at the same time. He did checkout the interior of the Tiguan and was quite impressed with the panoramic sunroof.
By the time I got back on the Morabad-Gaziabad highway we had to go through the same bad roads but luckily we got less traffic early morning. The highway stretch was again brilliant as we covered amazing distance within no time. I had already driven the Tiguan for over 600 kms and everything felt right at place. Keeping up good speeds while I did notice the rear passengers had a good nap too. There is a small hump in between but that doesn’t bother much while all the three get a headrest and that was useful. As we entered Delhi early, we had some time in hand so my parents came up with a last minute visit request to Sarojini nagar. They didn’t want to feel empty as they couldn’t shop as much in Nainital. I was welcomed to Delhi with again some crazy traffic but that felt natural and going back home.
We met the driver/coordinator from the VW team at the old Delhi railway station and he took back the Tiguan. It was at that time I felt I might miss the car a bit because there was a kind of a bond I had developed. Amazing engine, decent space, acceptable mileage with astounding dynamics and a lot of tech. The Volkswagen Tiguan is a calm wolf in sheep’s clothing. I did mention that I had the best set of wheels in my last travelogue but the Tiguan has upped it for sure. It does seem a bit under-rated and the pricing is the only reason that we don’t see as many VW Tiguans on the road. It’s actually a great premium SUV for people and makes a lot of sense if someone doesn’t require a body-on-frame vehicle.