We test sleek Taigo, the latest in VW’s swarm of mini SUVs
Meet Volkswagen’s niche-busting coupe-crossover. Excuse the pun, but this new Taigo, pronounced tie-go, rather than tiger, joins a swarm of SUVs in the VW stable. You can now quote literally have it all, from the T-Cross to the T-Roc, Tiguan, and Tiguan Allspace. And they all operate in the same niche, which means that they cross over each other’s target markets.
Of course, there’s still the Touareg on top, and then the Amarok too. And you can get a whole lot of similar spec Polos and Golfs that run a bit closer to the ground. Who knows how much more the range will grow once VW’s EVs arrive in SA? Spoiled for choice? Or deliriously confusing? You tell us!
So, what about this Taigo, then? Well, it shares its MQB A0 platform with Polo and T-Cross and far more too with the South American VW Nivus too. It is Essentially a T-Cross with its station wagon boot chopped off to achieve what some would call a turtle on stilts. Or a fastback in 1960s speak. Today we call these coupe-SUV, which obsession is sweeping the car industry at some considerable pace these days.
VW says Taigo is the most affordable coupe-SUV
VW sells Taigo as the most affordable coupe-SUV. Some rivals may argue. Measuring up at 4,266 mm long, 1,757mm, and 1,494 mm tall, it’s 123 mm longer, 6 mm wider and 33 mm taller than your Polo 7. In spite of its fastback boot, Taigo will gobble up 440 litres of baggage. That’s only 15 litres less than the T-Cross, five off T-Roc, and on par with most rivals.
But it’s that sleek body that Volkswagen promises sets this one apart. Some say it’s more like a sandwich that’s been in the sun for a bit too long. Others dig it. There again, styling is a subjective thing, but this one is a bit of a contradiction in VW’s cubist styling language. That, long arched roof seems a bit of a cut and paste job versus a GLE coupe and X6. There we go. We mentioned its inspiration.
Lighting tricks like the grille bar linking the DRL LED headlamps also do their bit to set Taigo apart. The taller of us, and those who wear hats struggled to get in and out of it. Once aboard, you will feel quite at home if you’ve driven a T-Cross before but expect to struggle more reversing it. That fastback bit kills off a fair bit of rearward visibility.
Thank goodness! IT has real buttons and knobs!
There’s ample space all-round inside and adequate leg room too. The decent size and feel steering wheel falls nicely to hand. This variant thankfully gets proper buttons versus the touch-sensitive catastrophe found in the range-topping R Line. We’d buy down to this one just for the old school knobs and buttons.
Taigo’s different size cupholders are a decent touch. But there’s literally acres of hard plastic in there. It makes the cabin is a bit dull and soulless. The seats are less than comfy and struggle to accommodate taller people. Rear passengers don’t even get a soft armrest.
Ours had VW’s larger 10.25-inch infotainment system with four USB ports, two up front and two in the back . Pity they’re useless to anyone who does not have USB C cables. Maybe they’d be lucky enough to have smartphones modern enough to take advantage of Taigo’s wireless charging pad. Infotainment is smart and effective but can be laggy and confusing to operate. The CarPlay interface dropped calls and froze on us too.
Powered by an 85 kW 1.5-litre turbo triple
The Taigo only comes to SA in the 85 kW version of VW’s litre turbo triple putting its power down to the front wheels via a good old VW DSG automated manual gearbox. Comfortable enough tootling around town, it feels out of its comfort zone at higher speeds. We mentioned only last week that one rival could do with a more modern engine. But if this is the future, this engine is letting the side down.
Taigo struggles to launch, especially on a hot day. A combination of the DSG gearbox and a lack of bottom end grunt conspire to deliver a degree of a launch failure. Which means, if you floor it, Taigo takes a second or so to gather its faculties before finally spooling up and motoring off. One cannot even urge it on by line locking it, or keeping the brake depressed to build a bit of boost. It will not allow more than 1500 rpm.
The there’s more trouble on the other side of the power band. The engine runs out of speed long before the gearbox is happy to change up. It wheezes along to the rev counter red line, instead of short shifting to accommodate the engine’s better midrange in the next gear up. This engine does not match its gearbox and that is purely down to a lack of proper development.
Taigo went 0-100 km/h in under 10 seconds
This little three-cylinder also makes a racket on start-up and while idling and sounds strained when pushed. That said, our 0-100 km/h test did break the ten second mark, which makes it average. Ride is smooth enough, particularly this car’s 16-inch alloys. They’re still noisy on the road though and add to the engine’s din. The tyres deal with bumps and potholes well. Handling and roadholding is flat and composed. Impressive to be honest.
Suspension is firm but well damped. It copes well with potholes and bumps. Steering is light with fair feedback, especially at lower speeds. And braking is effective with decent pedal feel. VW’s Travel Assist cruise control impressed, but Taigo’s annoying active safety kit, not least oversensitive parking sensors, is too intrusive, as so many modern systems are.
So, what do we have here? Not satisfied with an SUV for every man and his dog, Volkswagen could not resist this latest obsession to cut off the back of a good old station wagon SUV and graft a fastback on in its place. Is it worth the effort? Clearly the market and contact groups suggested so and VW has responded with this tortoise on stilts in the hopes of attracting a more eye-catching alternative to the regular estate SUV.
There are cooler-looking coupe-SUV rivals out there. Taigo’s cabin fails to stir. And this little turbo triple is a mismatch for its automated manual gearbox. All of which makes Taigo a little less memorable than we thought it would be.
Taigo will woo VW buyers by its sportier looks
The Taigo however looks the part for a VW. It will woo buyers by its sportier looks. And it provides VW dealers with a more exciting step up from a T-Cross or a Polo. Badge engineering at its finest. – Michele Lupini
Test data & images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Volkswagen Taigo 1.0TSI Style Engine: 85 kW 200 Nm 1.5-litre petrol I3 Drive: dual-clutch automatic FWD TESTED: 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 CLAIMED: VMax: 200 km/h Fuel: 5.4 l/100 km CO2: 123 g/km Warranty/Service: 3y 120K/3y 45K km LIST PRICE: R480K RATED: 7