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Strong opening for Volkswagen’s second innings

S Muralidhar | Updated on August 12, 2021

The Taigun’s cabin features one of the simplest and most uncluttered dashboards in the segment

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The Taigun will get the same two petrol TSI engines, each with their own manual and automatic transmission options

Much-awaited compact SUV Taigun will roll into refreshed and rebranded showrooms next month. Will it be worth the wait?

In the major metros, Volkswagen’s eye-catching banners in yellow have been blaring out the message that this is the year of the Taigun and the ‘SUVW’. For all of us who’ve drooled over the prototype and the banner Ads, the wait is finally over. The Taigun will be launched in the coming weeks and going by the first impressions after test driving it in rain-soaked Udaipur, I think this looks and feels extremely promising. For VW, it will be a key addition, ticking off two boxes in the list of demands amongst buyers in the premium category — compact and SUV body-style.

Even though, from outside, it seems smaller than the rest of the compact SUVs, the Taigun will be competing on price with segment players like the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Tata Harrier, and the Kushaq from VW group brand Skoda.

The Taigun fills a yawning gap in VW’s portfolio, and along with the Tiguan, the T-Roc and Tiguan AllSpace it completes a line-up of SUVs across a wide price range. Adding to the bright prospects is the fact that like the Kushaq, the Taigun too has been built on the affordable MQB-AO-IN platform that has been specifically developed for the Indian market (read highly localised).

Design

The two models share the powertrains, most of the underpinnings and some other components, but it is good to see that their exterior and interior designs set them apart. The Taigun’s dimensions are also nearly identical to the Kushaq’s with the wheelbase, width and height being the same. My guess is that the minimum ground clearance at 155mm will also be the same. The face of the Taigun is fresh and there is a lot of VW design lineage that is evident from the choice of elements at the front.

 

The differentiators run deep here with the bonnet’s tapering nose and the horizontal design orientation coming through clearly identifying the brand language. A bit of Tiguan and a bit of T-Roc that one can see in the front design should work in the Taigun’s favour. The three-slat grille and the simple rectangular headlamps give it an attractive fascia. My test mule was the GT variant, which in the Taigun’s case means that it is the 1.5-litre engine version. Incidentally, there will be a total of two petrol engines with two transmission options for each. The one-litre will be offered in three trim levels and the 1.5-litre will get two trim variants.

The Taigun’s front fender gets three layers — a thick chrome bow that wraps around the fog lamps, a black airdam and a faux aluminium underbody protector. The front body side panels sport the GT badging and the top trim gets LED lamps and DRLs in the headlamp. The door panels are identical to the Kushaq. But, that still manages to fit the Taigun’s overall design, even though parked next to each other the side profiles will match. The 17-inch, dual-tone alloys add some character to the new ‘SUVW’.

The rear design for the Taigun is also unique. The most prominent feature is the continuous LED tail-lamp; the connecting section lights up too. The horizontal LEDs with the VW logo in the middle boosts the perception of width and accentuate the haunches of the Taigun. Another matching thick chrome bow runs the width of the rear fender and curls around the reflectors on either side. It also gets a faux aluminium skid plate at the rear.

Cabin

The Taigun’s cabin features one of the simplest and most uncluttered dashboards in the segment. The classic VW geometric focus can be seen in many of the elements in the cabin. Sharp angles and symmetrical placements give elements like the aircon vents, steering wheel spokes and the instrument binnacle a simple, but unique appeal. The subliminal messaging from the symmetry in design can also be see in the way the dashboard is layered with inserts and choice of shiny and matt plastics.

 

The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the touch controls for the air-conditioning are neat additions to the centre stack, and they have a certain clinical, yet premium finish. At least one of these is a shared feature with the Kushaq.

Despite the other shared parts like the door mirrors, the Taigun’s cabin feels very VW-like and very different from the Skoda Kushaq. The GT trim variant that I was driving featured a digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting, a sunroof, wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and contrast coloured dashboard panels with a faux carbon-fibre insert. Lower trim variants may not get some of these features. Some body colour trim variants can also opt for a contrast red dash panel. The seats in the Taigun are nicely constructed with sporty contouring and side bolsters. The rear seat also offers good under thigh support and features a comfortably angled backrest. VW has also managed to eliminate the central transmission tunnel and give the rear passengers a near flat floor.

There are a few differentiators in the cabin between the Kushaq and the Taigun. The perforated, cooled seats that were offered with the 1.5-litre engine in the Kushaq, will only be available in the one-litre for the Taigun. Similarly there will also be a few trim differences between the manual transmission variants and the DSG automatic variants for the GT Line.

Performance

The Taigun will get the same two petrol TSI engines, each with their own manual and automatic transmission options. VW is really gung-ho about TSI and expects to fit 100 per cent of its car line-up with these types of engines in the near future. The one-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine generates 115PS of peak power and 178Nm of torque. It is paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. This powertrain version wasn’t offered for a test drive. What I tested was the 1.5-litre EVO TSI engine.

 

The 1,498cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine develops 150PS of peak power and 250Nm of peak torque available from 1,600rpm. This engine sprints with relative ease, with linear power delivery, while it also offers enough low-end torque to handle low-speed driving without frequent downshifts.

The engine features Active cylinder tech and shuts off the middle two cylinders (2&3) during cruising and low demand conditions.

I fell in love with the manual gearbox and its buttery smooth shifts. The DSG automatic sports the same quick shifting and agile character that I have experienced with VW’s other cars and their DSG boxes. But, that also includes the hesitant shifts during part throttle. Both the powertrains (MT and DSG AT) feature ratios that match the sporty driving character that will be expected by buyers for this engine. Inside the cabin, the engine sounds refined and unruffled unless prodded to rush past the 3,500rpm mark. Top speed is 190kmph and it is said to be capable of doing 0-100kmph in 9.1 seconds. The electro-mechanical steering is light in the city and weighs up at highway speeds. My test mule returned 12.6 kmpl after a mixed run in city and highway.

Bottom line

The Taigun feels like a true VW to drive - stable at high speeds and confident while taking corners. The Kushaq felt similarly capable in terms of its dynamics, NS its ride and handling. The Taigun’s USP has to be that it is a VW inside out. And it is good to see that safety continues to be one of the key focuses. All variants will get 3-point seatbelts (including rear middle seat), two airbags, rear parking assistance and stability control. Top trim variants will also side and curtain airbags, and hill hold control.

The Taigun will be an easy sell to VW loyalists and fans. It is the others that will need to be wooed. So price will still be key, as will be a trim strategy that doesn’t lead to much overlap with the Skoda Kushaq. VW officials are telling me that both are being planned for.

Published on August 12, 2021

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