Tushar BurmanAugust 9, 2021 10:00:02 AM IST
When we saw the big Volkswagen and Skoda pavilion at the Delhi 2020 Motor Show – just before the world went crazy – we were interested in the upcoming little VW SUVs – T-Roc and Taigun. The Taigun show car was, of course, busier than the production version, but it was fascinating in size and packaging. And best of all, it was almost ready to go. Skoda also featured its Vision IN concept — mostly the same vehicle in different clothes — but it wasn’t far from showcasing readiness. It took a year and a change to get the production data for Kushaq complete (read the review here) and put it up for sale while Volkswagen waited Bada bhain baraat leave the premises. Now that it is, the Volkswagen Taigun is here, ready for launch in September.
What is it?
The Volkswagen Taigun – like the Kushaq – is a medium-sized SUV, or what Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd wants to call a medium-sized one right now. Conceptually (and in terms of price), it competes with the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos models. These are huge shoes to fill, so clearly SAVWIPL is not shy. Looking at Taigun – or Kushaq – you can write the vehicle as a compact SUV; thinking it’s in the mold of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, but it’s actually 20cm longer in size, which pays dividends indoors. Personally, I’ve always liked Volkswagen’s deep, practical boots, but they usually cost the comfort of the back seat. Fortunately, Taigun does not have such a problem. The Taigun is based on the VW Group’s MQB-A0-IN platform tailored to India, and as we understand it, there will be smaller vehicles and perhaps a compact SUV in the future, but it is a completely different beast.
Design: intelligent, unified
I’ve always enjoyed Volkswagen’s design language, and this feeling continues with Taigun. If so, it is a return to a shape with sharp lines, a determined attitude and a clear European vibe. In terms of design tips, Taigun looks like a real sibling to Passat, while Vento and former Ameo are just cousins who have been removed twice. There’s no way to avoid a comparison to an almost identical Skoda Kushaq, so let’s get this out of the way: I think the Volkswagen Tiguan looks better. It looks like it was designed to look like it from the start, but Kushaq feels somehow inconsistent in places. Skoda needs growth. I liked this right away.
Images should be self-explanatory. It’s a handsome, well-proportioned car that differs from the Kushaq in front and rear. The busier front end of the VW works for me, while I prefer the simpler taillights of the Kushaq. Overall, VW wins for me, despite Kushaq’s smarter bike range.
Interior: airy, compact, decent rear space
A comparison with Kushaq is again inevitable. Most of the items in our Kushaq review will be moved here. The Taigun is a narrow SUV whose intelligent packaging ensures comfort for all passengers as long as there are four passengers. The rear fifth passenger is not comfortable. The cab feels airy thanks to the lighter panels in the greenhouse, small sunroof and upholstery compared to the darker feel of the Kushaq. The plastics are on average like in the Skoda, but the dashboard and steering get their own unique VW design. The center display is connected to the corner pile and features some black piano materials. This gives the Taigun’s interior its own character, as does the virtual cab’s full digital instrument display, a top-of-the-range eight-inch color TFT. This is not available in all Kushaq versions, and Skoda says it will add the feature later in the life of the SUV. But where VW gives, VW takes away. In this case, ventilated seats are not available, something you get with Skoda.
One weird thing is the body-colored red trim on the dashboard. We only saw this in Taigun, whose exterior was red, while the inside of the silver and yellow cars was muted in silver-gray plastic. This red upholstery did nothing for the otherwise elegant look of the interior. The same goes for different blanks instead of buttons. We really didn’t like the blank plastic panel where the sunglasses would be. Would it really have cost much more, VW?
The VW steering wheel is soft and has standard click buttons to access various functions. This is unlike the Kushaq, which uses much lighter click wheels.
The rear apartments are good for two and offer plenty of knee rooms and headroom. There is a center armrest that will retract if you have an unhappy fifth passenger ferry. The boot is about the same as the Kushaq – small but deep with a little loading lip that pulls things.
A word about technology: the basics are covered, and give and take extra features
The technical stack is completely identical to what we have seen with Kushaq. There is a 10 inch touch screen that works well. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both present, and both connect wirelessly. After pairing, my phone worked perfectly. The wireless charger works, but is awkward to place like most wireless chargers in general. We left the phone connected with a USB-C cable and it worked without interference.
Like the Kushaq, the VW Taigun has four USB-C ports — two at the front and two at the rear. Bring adapters or USB-C cables to the car. Taigun’s party trick is a full-color TFT display on the driver’s bus. It’s nice, but not a contractor / breaker. It adds to the premium ambience of the range top model and is likely to amaze buyers at first glance.
HVAC controllers remain capacitive, which is not a favorite way to do this; Using an air conditioning system requires you to look down, which is not safe.
The six-speaker music system is amazing. It has a slightly hollow sound, similar to the Kushaq system. It worked well enough to sing out loud on the beautiful highways around Udaipur.
On the go: brisk and fun
I rarely have complaints about driving a VW car. The Taigun we chose was equipped with a 150 hp / 250 Nm 1.5-liter TSI petrol engine with a six-speed manual, and later the same engine with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. The engine is perky and gets the SUV to three-digit speeds in a short time. Unlike Kushaq, we did an extensive road trip on Taigun and found it to be a nice medium distance traveler.
The steering is light, which promises a good city trip. Enthu pastries enjoy the manual, but I’m not in my twenties and I have a better sense, so I preferred the automatic. While 250 Nm is a high torque, the DSG just seems to make better use of it. The noise is well controlled at highway speeds, and my colleagues and I were fresh and able to work up to 250km back and forth. Part of the credit must be used for freezing. According to VW standards, it is only exemplary. It really feels much more suitable for Indian conditions than other cars. It’s plush but not soft and withstands terrible blows without feeling anything broken. Surplus cattle on Rajasthan highways meant we made a few skillful movements to avoid killing things (or ourselves) without drama or too much body rolling.
Up to six airbags are mentioned in VW literature. It remains to be seen which different options will receive this security package, as in Skoda’s case, the most expensive option is not the safest. We expect both manufacturers to make some kind of variations when they see what has entered the market.
Verdict: Sharp-looking medium-sized SUV for drivers
Just like the Kushaq, the 1.5-liter engine makes this Volkswagen Taigun fun to drive, and the 1.0-liter TSI numbers suggest it’s good too. Design evaluation is basically where the choice begins and ends. Separating from a company sibling is not enough to make any sensible decision. Personally, I think the VW looks better, but it has the same basic features. I would have chosen ventilated seats for the driver instead of a TFT screen, but that’s just me.
Much depends on pricing and is probably not very different from Kushaq’s price as they are mostly identical and Bada bhai hardly give chhotey underestimated them. So it can be expected that Volkswagen Taigun will be placed in the same price range of 10.5 to 17.6 million rubles (ex-showroom). For that money, you get a small, premium-class, fun-driving SUV that works great for four. Clearly, the formula works; Skoda has so far booked more than 6,000 reservations for Kushaq, although the value proposition is plentiful. We’ll know more in September when Taigun launches.
In short: I like Taigun, and I would be happy to drive it every day and drive three friends around. Or in my case a dog and several cats.
Volkswagen Taigu in numbers
Length: 4221 mm
Width: 1760 mm
Height: 1612 mm
Wheelbase: 2651 mm
Engines: 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol / 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol
Power: 115 hp / 150 hp
Torque: 178 Nm / 250 Nm
Transmissions: 6-speed manual and 6-speed car / 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG automatic transmission
Price: Rs 10.50-17.60 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom)