Volkswagen Taigun review, first drive

SUVs make a lot of sense in India. The high clearance and tight approach and departure angles make them perfectly suited for all terrains. Then there is high seating position and not to forget the brag value. The result is most people are choosing an SUV as a daily driver and those who are not are aspiring to own one. Manufacturers too are working hard to bring in SUVs into their portfolio and in all segments. So it was but obvious that when the Volkswagen Group decided to rethink their ‘India strategy’, they would choose an SUV to spearhead their assault. As a result of this development VW even changed their tag line to being ‘SUVW’ and launched a plethora of premium SUVs in the past few months. But the one SUV which has the tall task of leading the charge is the Taigun.

The VW Taigun looks rather handsome. It gets a lot of chrome up front which is something Indians love.

Volkswagen Taigun: Exterior design

The Taigun is a brand-new SUV based on the India specific MQB-AO-IN platform and the game here is localization. VW tells us that the new Taigun is 95 per cent localized which will also mean that cost of ownership can be kept well under check. Coming back to the Taigun, the SUV looks rather similar to the concept the company showcased last year. It gets the VW design face and a result it looks unmistakably like a VW. The large grille looks good and the headlamps are sleek too which gel well with the overall design. The headlamps feature either LED or Projector beams and that depends on the variant one chooses. The bumper too has a rather large air dam and VW has given it a chrome finish and this should work well in India. In profile too the Taigun looks bold thanks to the twin shoulder lines and plastic claddings. The SUV come with roof rails as well which are not just for looks. It is a load bearing unit and one can install a carrier to attach a roof box or may be a cycle carrier as well. As far as the wheels are concerned, VW will offer two options including a 16in and a 17in one. The rear end design also looks rather cool thanks to the sweeping spoiler and sporty looking tail gate. But the party-piece of the Taigun is the infinity tail light cluster which runs across the tail gate.

The Taigun in red comes with a colour coordinated dash. The instrument panel on the MT variant is old school and features a twin pod console with a digital readout in the middle.

Volkswagen Taigun: Interior design & space

Inside, the Taigun is a nice and spacious place to be. Once again variants determine the trim inside. For example the red Taigun you see here is the manual variant and hence comes with red accents on the dash and an old school twin-pod analogue instrument panel. It sure gets a digital read out in the middle which offers a lot o data for the driver. The infotainment system too is a large and offers Apple and Android connectivity. It also beams information regarding trip and fuel economy. The Taigun also comes with a wireless charging feature. The only thing which looks odd here are the touch sensitive pads for the climate control system. The display is small too and using it will take a bit of getting used to. The steering is adjustable for both reach and rake. The driver’s seat is adjustable too but manually. The space at the back is rather good even with the front passenger seated in a comfortable position, there is no shortage of room. Rear passengers also get a quite a bit of features which include rear AC vents, twin Type C charging points and an arm rest which can hold two cups and one mobile device. The rear seats also get a 60:40 split feature which come hand to increase luggage carrying capacity. The boot too is generous and offers an intrusion free space. When it comes to safety features, VW is offering plenty as well. Apart from the airbags (upto six airbags), there are plenty of active and passive features like Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Brake disc wiping and Electronic differential lock among others.

The DSG variant comes with a high-tech digital cockpit. The infotainment system is large and easy to use. It also features wireless Apple and Android connectivity. The boot on the Taigun is deep and intrusion free.

Volkswagen Taigun: Engines & gearbox options

Volkswagen is offering the Taigun with a choice of two petrol engines and four gearbox options. The first one is the 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI engine which produces 115bhp and 178Nm of torque. It can be paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. The second engine option happens to be the 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI engine which offers 150bhp and 250Nm or torque. This engine can be had with a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG and these are the two cars we got to drive. It will also be apt to mention here that the 1.5 TSI comes with cylinder deactivation tech which basically shuts down two cylinders when the SUV is coasting or driving at lower speeds. This ensures better fuel efficiency as well.

The MT variant of the Taigun rides on smaller wheels and does not get the sunroof.

Volkswagen Taigun: The 1.5 TSI MT driven

On start up the 1.5 TSI feels rather smooth. There is very little vibration or noise which creeps into the cabin. The clutch action is light and the manual gearbox impresses with its crisp and short throws. The SUV takes off fast, and it sure feels like a sub 10 second SUV. In the city the SUV feels brisk and there is plenty of power to trundle along at high gears and then when power is needs, just step on the accelerator and the Taigun takes off. The torque spread also helps matters a lot. On the highway the Taigun is just as you would like it! If you want performance, the SUV will be ready to hover past 150kmph with ease to a claimed top whack of 190kmph. However, if you are out for a cruise, don’t be surprised to see an update on your digital IP which will announce that two cylinders out of four have been deactivated. Needless to say you will barely notice that the Taigun is now driving on two cylinders only. When it comes to fuel economy, the trip computer showed us an average of over 14kmpl and this inspite of driving the Taigun rather hard. This sure is a good sign, although we should reserve our judgment till we put the SUV through our rigorous data logging procedure.

Volkswagen Taigun: All about the ride & handling

When it comes to ride and handling, the Taigun excels in a very Germanic way! The stiff set up ensures good dynamics and a fun to drive feel. The suspension absorbs well at higher speeds dismissing potholes with ease. The passengers within don’t feel much of what the road throws at the Taigun. At slower speeds though a bit of it is felt! High speed stability is also top class and the Taigun holds its ground well thus inspiring confidence. The Taigun also loves corners and holds its ground well. The steering too is light and inspite of that offers decent amount of feedback which is typical of most German cars. Taking a three-point turn is also easy in the Taigun thanks to the light steering set up and this also means that parking the SUV in tight city spaces is going to be easy.

The DSG gearbox impresses with its smooth shifts and performance.

Volkswagen Taigun: The DSG variant driven

Apart from the manual transmission, VW is also offering the 7-speed DSG with the 1.5-litre TSI engine and this is a combination which the enthusiasts will love. The DSG version also happens to be the top variant and as a result gets a bit more bells and whistles which include different lights and a sunroof as well. It also gets a high tech digital cockpit which endows it with a modern feel. This variant also gets paddle shifters which come handy when in a sporty mood. It also rides on larger 17in alloy wheels which also look different from the 16in unit. So how does it perform?

The DSG variant feels a lot more comfortable to drive as the gearbox shifts smoothly through the cogs. The idea is to make the gears shift up by modulating the accelerator. Gentle modulation coupled with the cylinder deactivation tech, the Taigun will bless you with good fuel economy. But in case you are in a sporty bent of mind the gearbox will shift down and give you good acceleration. We loved how it can dart through traffic with ease. Adding to its accolades is the ride quality which is better than the manual which rides on smaller wheels.

Volkswagen Taigun: Verdict

The Taigun is a rather sorted SUV. It offers good build quality, looks rather smart and at the same time offers a spacious cabin. When it comes to features, it offers quite a bit of kit, although the competition has a bit more to offer. The spotlight though is on the performance bit. The TSI engine is a joy and both manual and DSG transmissions are well calibrated. It also rides rather well and handling is just right. The steering too has nothing to complain about. The only thing which VW now has to ensure is to give the Taigun a competitive price.

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