Taigo R

VW’s baby tortoise on stilts looks the part. Goes, well, um…

Here we have a tortoise on stilts. The smallest of them all. We tested another VW baby coupe SUV Taigo, so this one’s just a refresher. Or is it? Well, no. Driving this R-Line at sweltering Jozi altitude exposed a few extreme evils.

Taigo R

A most affordable coupe SUV

They say that the Taigo is the most affordable Coupe SUV. 4.2 metres long, 1.7 m wide and 1.5 m tall, it’s 123 mm longer, 6 mm wider and 33 mm taller than a Polo. Pack 440 litres of baggage in. 15 litres less than the T-Cross, five off T-Roc, and on par with most rivals.

Taigo’s look splits opinion. Reminded one joker of a sandwich he left in the sun. Others say it’s cool in R get-up. Men in hats may struggle to access it. Once aboard, VW owners will be at home. There’s ample space, leg room. A decent size steering wheel falls nicely to hand.


TAigo R is a touch sensitive catastrophe

Alas, the terrible touch-sensitive controls. VW has already ditched this tech, but you’re stuck with it in flagship R Line. We’d buy down merely to avoid it. Dodge those sliders to work it, and the larger 10.25” infotainment is smart and effective enough. But laggy.

It has an army of USB C ports. None work without a C cable. D’uh! There’s wireless charging though, and the different size cupholders are clever. Austere design and hard plastics are dull. Seats struggle to fit tall folk. There’s no soft rear armrest.

Then we drove it. Did a blind person fish this 85 kW litre turbo triple and DSG gearbox out from some giant VW seconds warehouse?


Mismatched Taigo R engine, gearbox

We blasted a rival for its ancient atmo engine just last month. If this is the future, however, we’re lost. If Taigo R Line struggles to launch at the coast, then it’s pathetic on a warm Reef day. The engine cuts at 1,200 rpm. That prevents the turbo from spooling up to boost the engine.

So, floor it, four up with luggage in the boot on a balmy Gauteng afternoon, and nothing happens. Nothing. Count, one, two, three, four – four seconds… Then all of a sudden the turbo spools, boost builds and boom! On the count of five… Eureka! Off we go!

It’s dangerous. God forbid you gap it from a summery Sandton stop street in front of an approaching lorry. Could be fatal. Hold tight! Next thing, Taigo bounces off its traction control, racing to 5,500 rpm. Only to wheeze on. Finally, desperately, it shifts a gear up at 6,500 rpm. Way too late.

Taigo R Line

A tuner’s view of the Taigo dilemma

Thirty years ago, we modified cars. We developed each kit, tested the prototype, and made sure it’d drive right. In any situation. Long before we ever sold any conversion. We often found issues like this in testing. But we worked them out. If not, we abandoned the project.

Any test engineer can tune this nonsense out. Plug a laptop in with the appropriate program, dial some slip into the DSG clutch, raise the standing throttle cut-off. Allow enough rpm for the turbo to spool a little, and boost up.

It may need a little adjustment. Bend this lever, put a spacer under that bracket. Spend time trying permeations. Hone it to perfection. Verify it and apply to production. An interesting challenge and a rewarding process. But no rocket science!

Taigo R

Who tested Taigo?

There is no doubt that the VW Taigo was never appropriately tested for everyday South African driving conditions. It was tossed together without a care in the world. Had someone engineered this electronics, gearbox, and engine together, there would be no trouble.

No launch failure, no lag, no angst. Just a sweet little car that would work a treat at any altitude. Whatever the temperature and no matter what the load. But no, it’s far cheaper, and so much easier to just dump deficient cars in this market.

Taigo’s comfy enough tootling about. A little out of its depth at elevated pace. But avoid it at all costs. Until somebody sorts its deadly launch failure and lag. Rather buy a car that works at any altitude, in every temperature, no matter what the load. – Michele Lupini

Testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volkswagen Taigo 1.0 TSI R Line
Engine: 85 kW 200 Nm 1-litre petrol I3
Drive: dual-clutch automatic FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.18 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.68 sec
0-120 km/h:       13.57 sec
400m:             16.0 sec @ 138 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.86 sec
VMax:             200 km/h
Fuel:             5.4 l/100 km
CO2:              123 g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y 120K/3y 45K km
LIST PRICE:       R503K
RATED:            6
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