Stretched VW Tiguan, 30th Mazda Miata

The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SE, parked west of Longmont. (Bud Wells photo)

Worthy of attention in are the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV crossover and the ’19 Mazda MX-5 RF Miata roadster.


The Tiguan, since it was enlarged in second-generation form a year ago, has shot to the front of VW sales, edging past the long-popular though slumping Golf. Sticker price is below $30,000 on the Big Tig, with 4Motion all-wheel drive and finished in standout habanero orange color.

As for the Miata, it is celebrating its 30th year and Mazda says it’s the best-selling roadster of all time. For 2019, horsepower is boosted from 155 to 181 for the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder. The RF edition, which I drove, drops its retractable roof quickly and precisely – 13 seconds.

Noticeable for those who have compared the bigger VW Tiguan with the older, smaller one is the 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space; the earlier Tiguan was more cramped with only 23.8. Small cargo space in an SUV or crossover draws large numbers of complaints. Not just the cargo area has expanded; the rear-seating area has ample legroom and headroom. The leatherette-covered front seats are wide, lightly bolstered and comfortable.

The revised Tiguan is almost a foot longer and is 7 inches longer in wheelbase at 109.9 inches. The Tiguan, which shares a platform with the Audi Q3, offers optional third-row seating.

The only engine offered by Volkswagen for the Tiguan is a 184-horsepower, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Normal driving tasks are fine, though the engine works hard to maintain pace at times under higher speeds and climbs. A bit of performance boost is gained by pushing the shifter into sport mode; there are no paddles at the steering wheel. The VW rides on Continental 215/65R17 tires. It is built in Puebla, Mexico.

Finished in the bright orange, the VW Tiguan is easily picked out in a crowded parking lot.

Most all the 350 miles driven by me in the Tiguan were smooth-highway variety, resulting in a relatively high-miles-per-gallon average of 28.7. The concluding drive, with former Post co-worker Peggy McKay, Jan and me, was to Johnstown, and on past Scheel’s at I-25 and U.S. 34, following lunch at Kenny’s Steakhouse in Greeley.

Reasonable, it seems, is the price posted on the Tiguan SE 4Motion of $29,285; though it has no navigation. Besides the AWD, it has cruise control, forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, heated front seats, Bluetooth and trip computer.

Russian olive trees set background for Mazda Miata RF in 30th year. (Bud Wells photo)

Delivered to me as part of the 30th year observance for the Mazda Miata is the MX-5 Grand Touring RF edition with retractable roof.

Rear pillars highlight the RF’s style departure; they remain in place with the top up or down. Unlike the regular Miata in which the entire soft top folds out of sight, the RF’s rear pillars lift while the metal targa-type top is dropped, then they all lower into place. The upright C pillars lend a distinctive look. It is a fine line of precision as the rear lifts while the middle of the roof and rear window slip backward beneath the pillars, then the layers drop into place. The pillars block rear vision.

Adding distinctive style to Mazda Miata are rear roof pillars. (Bud Wells photo)

The 6-speed manual transmission is tied to the 4-cylinder engine; the shifter is smoothest of most all I’ve driven this year. The powertrain combination for the rear-wheel-drive roadster carries an impressive EPA estimate of 26/34 mpg, and the little model posted an average of 28.5.

With wheelbase of only 91 inches and overall length 154, a slight turning circle of only 30.8 feet allows the driver to turn this Miata around in most any unoccupied street anywhere. That’s 3 feet shorter than the turn radius of a Kia Rio or Chevy Spark. Only the Mitsubishi Mirage can match the tightness of turn of the Miata.

From the Miata’s small confines are tight footroom, tight shoulder room, tight headroom. Cupholders are positioned between the seatbacks far behind the driver, who must wrap the left arm around the body to the center between the seatbacks or lean forward and twist the right arm underhanded and fish for a grasp of the cup. A cupholder can be lifted and moved to the right edge of the center console, but the holder invades knee space of the passenger.

Sticker price on the special Miata Grand Touring RF is $35,405.

A regular Miata soft-top convertible can be purchased for several thousand dollars cheaper.