Captain Ed Semakula owns a 2012 VW Tiguan TDi Station wagon. Unlike many drivers called petrol heads, he refers to himself a diesel head because of his love for VW TDi models that he has owned over the last 15 years. Semakula bought the car factory new for £31,000 (about Shs145m).
“Being a keen cyclist, I also paid for a factory fitted bicycle carrier roof racks that cost me £600 (about Shs2.8m) and a side running board at £500 (about Shs2.4m) to make it easy for the children to get in and out of the car because the mid-size SUV has high clearance for children to handle,” he says.
Captain Semakula is all praises for the Tiguan saying it is brilliant because he operated between various difficult to reach Army medical centres in the UK, especially in winter months. On returning home in 2018, he paid £2,500 (about Shs12m) to ship it to Uganda and thanks to the government tax waiver policy, he was able to register the car in Uganda Tax free as a returning citizen.
Under the Tiguan’s hood is a 2.0 turbo engine tagged to a six-speed four-motion manual gearbox. “It accelerates from 0 to 100km/hr in seven seconds, thanks to power of 190hp and torque of 295lbs/ft,” Semakula says. More to that, with that torque, the car will reach any terrain, be it muddy, rocky or loose surfaces.
“Given its good ground clearance, the Tiguan will reach most places other cars cannot dare without worrying about damage of its sump. I remember towing various cars deep down near Murchison Falls National Park when it had rained heavily,” Semakula says.
The Tiguan comes with an electro-mechanical steering wheel system which is very responsive and gives better handling unlike traditional hydraulic steering systems which require servicing and topping up with fluids. “This system is service free,” he says.
The car also comes with a CD changer radio, touch screen with DVD, YouTube, Apple car-play capabilities and hands-free blue-tooth calling.
Being a military man, Capt Semakula is a very hands-on person, doing most of the necessary minor changes from all filters, brakes to oil changes. In regards to spare parts, because he operates between Uganda and the United Kingdom, Capt Semakula normally carries his spare parts in his check-in luggage.
“On other occasions, I bring them through Salabed, (a courier company), especially the heavy parts such as when I needed to change my dual mass flywheel, ” he adds. Besides that, he says diesel service is very friendly costing him Sh280,000.
“You only have to change the oil and oil filter unlike petrol cars where you change spark plugs and those expensive coils which keep blowing up and causing misfires.
I advise anyone not to listen to Chinese whispers that diesel cars are expensive to manage. Guess what, you can drive a diesel manual car from Gulu to Kampala without a battery because they do not rely on ignition like petrol cars for continuous combustion,” he says.
In regards to fuel consumption, comparisons done, he says diesel is cheap in Uganda and diesel cars are known for being fuel efficient. “The Tiguan TDi can deliver 20km/L highway and 15Km/L urban driving.”
Capt Semakula finds diesel cars exciting, saying it starts with the initial roar from the engine as its cranked to life in the morning.
“The interior cabin is also so quiet because VW equips its diesel cars with a dual mass fly-wheel which cushions off all the vibrations from the diesel engine. Due to diesel engines having more torque than petrol cars, it is always a win with my Tiguan every time I am engaged in a drag race from one traffic light to the next on Entebbe road,” he says.
He also uses his car for safaris because he enjoys game drives.
“The VW Tiguan is surely the ideal car for game drives. With everything automated from lights, wipers, radio volume and lane departure warning, the Tiguan makes every time inside it memorable and less exhausting,” he says.
The car also comes with park assist, which is capable of self-parking in any spot on the streets of Kampala with minimal input from the driver.
“Nonetheless, the best feature of them all is the auto hold which automatically holds the car in traffic jams or on lights without the driver keeping his foot on the brakes and immediately disengages it once you step on gas or press the clutch pedal,” Capt Semakula gushes about his car.