After a few years of dullness, VW has perked up with its new Tiguan. Have we got the recent sex scandal to thank for the creative surge?

The British media love a dose of Schadenfreude, especially when the schadenfreudees are German. And with the sentencing this month of two of the men behind the highly entertaining VW sex scandal, the Schadenfreude really hit the fan in the broadsheets and motoring press. But something amid the tawdry tales of Brazilian escort girls, Hamburg hookers and Viagra parties gave me hope for the future of VW. Call me deviant, but mightn't a good old sex scandal be exactly what a company (that has, in recent years, given us such pathologically unsexy cars as the Touran and Fox) needs?

These days being caught with your trousers down can do wonders for one's profile – just ask Paris Hilton. I wondered if the sex chicanery at VW which came to light in 2005 might have filtered by now down to the product line, so I borrowed its new compact SUV, the Tiguan, to find out.

First impressions confirmed my suspicions. The £23,000 Tiguan, the cheeky younger brother to the Touareg, has the legs apart stance of a Düsseldorf dominatrix and the bulging curves of a busty Berlin brothel babe. Inside, the first thing to catch your eye is the groovy seat fabric, ribbed for your pleasure and made from sponge-clean, faintly rubbery material. Never before have VW's blue-glow instruments got my heart pumping, but with that torrid back story swirling round my impressionable young head, in the cockpit of the Tiguan they evoked nothing less than the neon signs outside the seedier sex clubs of Hamburg's back streets.

Then a neighbour came out of her house and threw a bucket of cold water over me and I saw the Tiguan for what it really is: a pricey, pumped-up Golf, with the same four-wheel-drive system (albeit in permanent action in the Tiguan); a very similar interior; and, in the case of the one I borrowed, an efficient, if noisy, 2.0 turbo diesel engine – 189g/km won't upset the Mayor of London, and 113mph and 0-60 in 10.7 secs seems fairly benign too.

This doesn't sound very promising, but I liked it actually. In fact, if I wanted a compact SUV I would choose a Tiguan over a RAV4, CR-V or Freelander. The quality is superb, a real return to form for VW after some iffy interiors of late; it drives impeccably, masking its high centre of gravity well; and, of course, it now comes with added sex appeal.

If you ask me, the rest of the motor industry could learn a great deal from VW. I am not talking about quality control or brand-consistent design strategies: someone should pass VW's little black book to the management of Toyota straight away.

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