A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the VW website looking at the specs for the next model year Tiguan and I came across a 'compare' link. I figured it was a comparison with other models in their line up but it turned out not to be. It is a comparison against other crossover / mini SUVs from their competition. What is interesting is that they haven't done the usual thing, which is to pick comparison categories they could easily win. Instead it is a short list of some of the most common things buyers look for when buying a car, and what is very enlightening is that the Tiguan only comes out on top in two of the five categories - power and servicing costs. For mpg, leg room, cargo space and front crash test performance it comes out worse. Bear in mind this is on VW's own corporate website - not a car shopping or comparison site.
I find this refreshing because, however it was intended, it shows me that VW don't mind being a little more honest about their vehicles. How many times have you seen cross-manufacturer comparisons where they pick categories they know their vehicle is better at - inconsequential things like numbers of cup holders, tint on the windows and things like that? Or worse, where the competitor comparison numbers are altered to make them seem worse?
Here I'm faced with a chart that tells me the vehicle I'm interested in does pretty badly for cargo space compared to its competition. It also isn't brilliant for gas mileage, but by giving me the details up front, I'm being allowed to make an informed choice. Would I go elsewhere for this sort of vehicle? Potentially yes. For example I'd not really considered the Rav4. However the thing I get a kick out of the most - the turbo-assisted power in my current Tiguan - is where it does win out handily over the others in this particular list, and that alone is enough to sway me back into the VW camp. That's why the mpg is worse - because the engine is a lot more 'fun' to play with :-)