With running costs for big 4x4s getting more expensive, downsizing is becoming the preferred choice for motorists who demand a high driving position combined with the go-anywhere ability of an off-roader. With that in mind, there has never been so many compact 4x4s on the market, and one of the more popular offerings is the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Tiguan is unmistakably a Volkswagen. It’s not what you’d describe as beautiful, its more a conservative, rugged 4×4. The front end has a very premium feel to it, though not quite in the same class as the Audi Q3 or Range Rover Evoque. This R-Line version is the sportier model and gets a colour coded body kit, sport suspension and 18 inch alloy wheels.

The dash is typical VW fair. All the controls are well positioned and nicely damped, plus the materials are all soft touch, giving it a more premium feel. The driving position is fully adjustable and there’s plenty of storage areas for everyday nick nacks.

The Tiguan may be a compact SUV, but there’s nothing compact about the interior. The boot offers 470 litres of space, which can be expanded to 1,510 litres thanks to split folding rear seats – that makes it bigger than the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. Space in the back is good for tall passengers, with lots of head and leg room, and to make things more comfortable the rear seats slide and tilt.

The Tiguan is available as a rugged four wheel drive version, or a more road based two wheel drive. Both are comfortable and capable on the road, with little body lean through the bends. The diesel versions make the most sense, especially the 2.0-litre TDi which features BlueMotion technology, making it good for close to 55 miles per gallon.