Updated On: 10 August 2021 Yatharth Chauhan
Brand 'Taigun' was originally conceived for a design study that was to spawn an Up-based sub-compact SUV for Europe, Brazil and India. While the production model could never see the light of the day, the nameplate made a comeback on a larger concept car at last year's Auto Expo. Of course, this time around, the show car has been pushed into mass production and will be launched in the coming weeks. What's even more important here is that the Taigun becomes the first MQB-A0-IN-based model to wear the VW badge. Needless to say, the carmaker is betting big on its first all-new mass-market car in many years and our VW Taigun review here should help you decide if you should choose it over hot-sellers like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos or, perhaps, the close cousin, Skoda Kushaq.
Also Read: Skoda Kushaq Review - Czech Mate?
VW India is yet to reveal the trim options for its new offering but offered us the top-spec GT trims (a la Kia Seltos) in both manual and automatic transmission variants. Interestingly, the latter offers a higher equipment level, which even includes LED headlamps instead of the standard halogen affair on the manual variant. The disparity gets wider owing to additional chrome trim on the grille of the DSG-equipped automatic variant. The rest of the nose, however, stays exactly the same. Speaking of the front-end, there's a mini-me Tiguan look that clearly establishes a visual connection between the compact SUV and its much more premium sibling.
The two GT models aren't identical even in the side profiles as the DSG version gets 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels as opposed to 16-inch single-tone units on the manual version. It also features chrome on the door handles and the window-line. It looks like VW India has finally taken notice of India's love for chrome trim and the Taigun has got it in spades. Much of the design, however, is a typical VW affair with clean surfaces and simple creases.
The rear though is a pretty far cry from the understated front and side profile. The major highlight here is the 'infinity LED taillamp' that runs across the width of the posterior. While this does add a rather futuristic touch to the otherwise traditional design, the tail-end doesn't exactly go well with the rather simplistic front. Also, the elongated lighting is only for the taillamp and not the brake light. Other highlights here include a sporty bumper with chrome trim and faux skid plate to try and provide validation to the Taigun's SUV aspirations. A roof-mounted rear spoiler completes the look of the rear facade. Overall, the VW Taigun comes across as a handsome compact SUV that mostly impresses with its understated elegance.
Step inside, and you'll be quick to notice the high use of light colour tones, which is much in contrast with the all-black treatment on the Skoda Kushaq. What you'll probably not notice but would definitely come to realise in the long run is the effort it would take to keep the cabin clean, especially if you're a resident of dusty cities like Gurugram. On the brighter side though, there's no denying the sense of airiness that the off-white-dark-grey colour theme offers as compared to the dark all-black treatment on the Czech cousin.
The dashboard features a brushed silver trim, which extends to the door handles and the gear lever console. There's even a carbon fibre-like insert to make things slightly more interesting. The MT variant we had featured a colour-coordinated red trim instead and our understanding is that the buyers could get to choose between either the silver or the colour-coordinated option. Taking centre-stage on the dashboard is a 10-inch infotainment unit that is shared with the Kushaq. In fact, even the rear camera is the same low-cost unit that offers a rather ordinary quality of visuals. The biggest talking point, however, has to be the Audi-inspired all-digital instrument console that doesn't look as sophisticated as the unit on the T-Roc but definitely looks better than the unit available on the Creta. The manual variant, like the Kushaq, offers a conventional speedo console with two analogue dials and a MID.
What's very unlike the Kushaq is the lack of 'simply clever' touches like a ticket holder on the windshield or a dedicated spot for an idol or even a smartphone holder. That said, there are still enough cubby holes strewn around the cabin. The front door pads can hold a 1-litre bottle each and can even hold an umbrella in place. Even the rear door pockets offer bottle holders and there are two cupholders each in the rear centre armrest and near the handbrake lever. Also, the front armrest offers deep storage space. Even the glove compartment is sufficiently spacious but doesn't get enough space to help you carry even a 13-inch laptop.
The front section of the cabin feels adequately spacious with enough shoulder room as well as legroom for both the occupants. The seats, both at front and rear, are well-bolstered and offer excellent under-thigh support but the Taigun is simply not wide enough to easily accommodate three grown-ups on the rear seat. Thankfully, the transmission tunnel is hardly obtrusive, which means having a kid sit in the middle won't be much of a problem. In fact, the middle passengers, like the ones on either side, benefits from an adjustable headrest. Moreover, there's adequate legroom on offer here.
The carmaker is yet to reveal the boot space but what's for sure is that it won't be any lesser than the 385-litres that the Kushaq offers. Also, in spite of having a higher ground clearance than the Czech sibling, the loading lip of the boot here isn't too high and the opening is wide enough for you to easily load a large piece of luggage. We tried loading two small and one medium-sized stroller and the Taigun could swallow them in with ease. Moreover, the rear seat offers 60:40 split to boost the luggage-carrying capacity.
The equipment list on offer includes an electric sunroof, touchscreen aircon controls that are fairly easy to use, ambient lighting, rear aircon vents, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Wireless AppConnect, pre-loaded Gaana and Booking.com apps, wireless smartphone charger, flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel (note- Taigun doesn't get Kushaq-like two-spoke unit), USB Type-C ports at front and rear, ESC, tyre pressure deflation warning, hill hold control, ABS with EBD and 6 airbags. However, please note that not all of the above will be available on all versions. For example, the 1.5 GT Manual version misses out on many bits like the all-digital instrumentation, push-button start, keyless entry, LED headlamps, et al.
Akin to the Skoda Kushaq, the VW Taigun will be available with two engine options - 1.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol and 1.5-litre TSI EVO turbo-petrol. The former outputs 115PS-175Nm, while the latter puts out a segment-best 150PS-250Nm. Transmission options for the smaller motor include a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed AT, while the bigger motor will be sold with 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG options.
We drove the 1.5-litre variants and one thing that's clear is that the Taigun will be the most fun-to-drive option in its class. The manual transmission variant has well-defined ratios with a sufficiently light clutch. The pedal travel though is on the higher side. The car can be driven in the second cog from speeds as low as 20 kmph to 100 kmph. The turbo lag is well-contained but you would often stall the vehicle when driving over a speed breaker at 10-20 kmph in second gear. Out on the highway, overtaking fast-moving traffic doesn't require much calculation due to the peak torque being available as low as 1,600 RPM and till all way to 3,500 ticks. Even the NVH levels are well-controlled and there's little road or wind noise creeping into the cabin until the speed gets really high.
While some prefer the complete control a manual transmission offers over an automatic transmission governed by electronics, it's actually the DSG-equipped version that turns out to be more fun. There are many reasons for it. For starters, the transmission offers lightning-quick gear shifts and that pretty much mitigates the possibility of a slight turbo-lag one might face when stuck in the wrong gear. Moreover, the shifts are so well-timed that the auto version turns out to be significantly quicker than the manual version. Also, one can play Hamilton using the steering-mounted paddle-shifters or simply decide to take matters into his or her own hands by using the S-mode on the gear lever.
Typical of every VW model on sale in the country, the Taigun offers well-sorted driving dynamics with a good amalgamation of sporty handling characteristics and a pliant ride. The steering is quite direct with no vagueness around its dead centre. It even gains heft as the speeds ride while the wheel stays sufficiently light when piloting this car through the urban mess at low speeds. Moreover, the body roll is very well contained. Interestingly, we found the Taigun to be a tad better than the Kushaq in this respect. Even the ride quality felt better with the suspension keeping the occupants comfortable over most road surfaces. True, there's some stiffness and that pretty much lets the occupants know of the kind of surface the car is travelling on but things never get uncomfortable.
A reason for this is that VW has struck just the right balance between sporty handling manners and great ride quality. In comparison, the Kushaq offers a stiffer ride without necessarily being better in the handling department. The Taigun, unlike the Seltos, doesn't get rear disc brakes on the GT trims. While this isn't a deal-breaker, the braking power, though adequate, doesn't feel as strong as what the turbo-petrol variants of the Korean rivals offer.
Given the prolonged dull sales over many years, the VW Taigun is certainly a make-it-or-break-it product from the local subsidiary of the German auto giant. We spent a large part of a day driving the new SUV for about 250 km n city roads as well as the splendid expressway that passes through Udaipur, and what's clear is that Volkswagen India has got most bases covered with its first-ever offering on the Indian-ised MQB platform. The Taigun impresses with its elegant design and should appeal to everyone who prefers clean, understated design over the radical styling of the Hyundai Creta. It offers a sufficiently practical cabin that isn't as spacious but definitely feels more premium. Moreover, the two world-class petrol motors promise to provide a good mix of performance and fuel efficiency. True, there's no diesel on offer but given the fast narrowing price gap between petrol and diesel, and, also, the fact that the turbocharged motors can offer impressive fuel economy when driven sedately, the absence of an oil-burner won't hurt many potential customers.
Prices of the new model will be announced only at a later stage, but the pricing of the Skoda Kushaq, which shares aplenty with its German sibling, makes it quite safe for us to expect a price tag that won't affect the prospects of the new offering. So, unless VW India really misses the mark with its pricing strategy, the Taigun is surely going to win many hearts.
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