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Taigun signals complete overhaul of VW’s strategy

S Muralidhar | Updated on April 01, 2021

More than just wordplay, the new compact ‘SUVW’ will be quintessentially Volkswagen and also intrinsically Indian

Volkswagen India has been putting out teasers about how 2021 is going to be the year of the “SUVW” — a twist to an acronym that’s meant to communicate the German brand’s intention to deepen its portfolio with more sports utility vehicles. Currently, it’s rather depleted portfolio of three vehicles includes the Polo, the Vento and the Tiguan All Space. But quite a lot of excitement is on the way with the T-Roc making a comeback. It will still be a CBU (completely built unit) and bookings are all set to open from April. Then there is the Taigun, compact SUV that’ll make it to showrooms before the festive season. And the fourth SUV to join the line-up this year will be the new 5-seater Tiguan.

Close on the heels of sister brand Skoda Auto unveiling its compact SUV — the Kushaq, VW also pulled the wraps off the Taigun in Goa last week. Both these vehicles share the MQB-AO-IN platform, an architecture that has been developed specifically for India. Both will be officially launched within weeks of each other, but the Kushaq will be out first by July this year.

Design

The Taigun will be an extremely key addition to VW’s portfolio, filling in a longstanding gap, and that too in one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments. There is a sedan too that will be built using the same India-specific platform and make it to market next year, but for now the focus will be on Taigun. The new model will have a fairly well-spaced out trim variant strategy, including a top-spec GT Line (pre-production prototype in these pics).

The Taigun has the classic VW SUV proportions and stance. The body character lines and the horizontal orientation to the design elements at the front capture the language expressed by the other vehicles in the portfolio like the T-Roc and even the upcoming Tiguan. It also looks bigger than competition in the segment thanks to a wheelbase of 2,651mm. Very short overhangs and the R17 dual tone alloys that the prototype was sporting gave it a strong stance.

The headlights are a combination of lighting elements including LED DRLs; and they merge seamlessly into the prominent bonnet grille. There are chrome elements all around that add to the sense of premiumness both at the front and the rear. The Taigun looks wide, squat and strong from the rear thanks to the prominent haunches, the continuous LED tail-lamps and the chrome fender garnish that is a highlight in the prototype. We have to wait and see if it is retained in the final production version. There is a faux aluminium underbody protector peeking out of both the front and rear fenders.

Cabin

VW hasn’t released the official images of the new Taigun’s cabin and I was not allowed to take pictures. But my initial impressions of the prototype’s cabin are very positive, with a sense of roominess being the dominant image in my mind. There is also a sense of precision and cleanliness to the dashboard that struck me when I got behind the wheel at the global unveiling.

The dash has a horizontal orientation to it with a perceivable modernity thanks to the digital instrument cluster and touchscreen controls for the automatic air-conditioning. There is also the large 25.4cm touchscreen infotainment system at the top of the centre stack, completing the digital cockpit. The GT trim prototype that I was sitting in at the unveil also featured a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, an electric sunroof, ventilated front seats clad that were clad in perforated leather and a reversing camera. Dashboard layout and some of the decor inserts and materials will be different based on the trim variant. There is also ambient lighting being offered, presumably in the top variants.

The legroom in the Taigun’s cabin is pretty good, both at the front and the rear. The headroom, though, is best in the front two seats. In the prototype that I sat in, the roofliner’s design was meant to offer a scooped-out portion at the rear to liberate some more headroom for passengers. The rear bench seat was comfortable, though it will be a bit of a squeeze for three adults sitting abreast. However, all three rear passengers get head restraints and there are ISOFIX mounts also on offer. The infotainment also gets a host of connectivity features using ‘My Volkswagen Connect’, including wireless app connect. It also gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There are also lots of storage options, including coin trays, cup and bottle holders, and Type-C USB charging slots.

Powertrains

There’ll be two engine options to choose from and will both be offered with two transmission options each. With VW choosing to drop diesels from its portfolio, both the engines will be petrol and will both feature the brand’s proprietary TSI technology (turbocharged stratified injection).

The one-litre (1.0 TSI), 3-cylinder petrol engine will generate 115PS of peak power and 175Nm of peak torque. This engine can be specified with either a manual or a torque converter automatic gearbox. The other engine will be the 1.5 TSI EVO, a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol mill that will have an output of 150PS and a maximum torque of 250Nm. This engine’s transmission options will include a manual and a 7-speed DSG (dual-clutch gearbox). These are shared platform powertrains that will also feature in the upcoming Skoda Kushaq. Unlike the competitors in the segment, both the Skoda and VW won’t be offering the DSG transmission with the one-litre turbocharged engine.

Chassis and suspension

VW officials say that the new platform offers 30 per cent more rigidity to the Taigun compared to the PQ platform on which the Polo and Vento are based. They add that “there has been no compromises in torsional rigidity”. The Taigun and the Kushaq share the same platform and if most of the underpinnings are going to be shared too, then I can make a fairly calculated guess that the new VW compact SUV’s ride will be really good too (based on my experience driving the Skoda pre-production prototype).

Also given the claims that the Taigun will retain the essential VW traits the brand is famous for, its handling should also be something to look forward to.

For safety, the Taigun will be offered with up to six airbags (two will be standard fitment), electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, Hill Hold and rear park distance control, etc.

India-centric

Lots of features and trim elements have been inspired by Indian buyer preferences. One of them is the almost flat transmission tunnel inside the cabin, that allows for a near flat floor at the rear, enabling easier entry and exit for a middle passenger. VW has also worked really hard at keeping the parts prices and total cost of ownership (TCO) low for the Taigun. And with extensive localisation right from launch, the Taigun should get an aggressive price tag in the range of ₹10 lakh to ₹18 lakh.

Published on April 01, 2021

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