Volkswagen Taigun 1.5 DSG/ Manual Review: VW’s make it or break it SUV

It's been a bit of a wait for the Volkswagen Taigun but now the compact SUV is nearing the start of production, followed by the launch in the 3rd week of September. We recently drove the 1.5 L variants with manual and DSG transmissions to find out how different is the Taigun from the Skoda Kushaq and is it good enough to take the fight to the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos. 

By:Updated: Aug 11, 2021 5:48 PM

One look is all it took for me to like the Taigun when I saw it in its concept form early last year and even in production guise it largely retains that attractive look. The pronounced creases on the front lend the Volkswagen Taigun a muscular and attractive look. The amount of chrome was a bit more than to my liking but it still looks tasteful and the slightly dark shade of the chrome itself ensures the treatment doesn’t look overdone.

The 17-inch wheels (16-inch on lower trims) look good and the rather straight yet sporty roofline along with functional roof rails and a strong shoulder line add energy to the car’s character. The party piece in the design, however, is at the rear in the form of the infinity tail lamps, which have an LED strip running from one end to another. Not only does this look fantastic but it also accentuates the width of the Taigun, making it look wider than it actually is.

Overall, the Volkswagen Taigun is a handsome-looking SUV and a bloody good one in the Kurkuma Yellow shade. Undoubtedly, the Taigun is smaller than the Creta and Seltos and that’s clearly visible in the looks but it has a muscular design and looks a bit bigger than the similarly-sized Kushaq and definitely more proportionate and attractive than the Korean siblings.

Inside the cabin, one can find similarities with the Skoda Kushaq as both the cars are based on the same platform and share bits too. In typical Volkswagen fashion, the cabin has a modern, clean, and elegant design with a layered dashboard design. In the DSG GT variant, we had metal-finished inserts in the dash while in the manual GT variant the dashboard was done in red, the same as the exterior colour. The biggest advantage of the Taigun over the Kushaq is the digital instrument cluster, which is similar to the Audi Virtual Cockpit. The screen can be customised extensively with clear readouts and adds a dash of premium flavour in the cabin. The infotainment screen looks good and works well with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay support and connected features. That said, the Volkswagen Taigun isn’t a fully connected car like the Creta/ Seltos and doesn’t come with an embedded sim card.

The feature list is also quite nice in the form of climate control, a good sound system, electrically operated sunroof (not panoramic), ventilated seats (strangely not in 1.5 L versions), ambient lighting and more. Yes, it’s not at par with the Koreans but it does offer a balanced package. Build quality is impressive and the doors still feel heavy and close with the typical Volkswagen thud. Material quality is also good in most places but the lower dashboard plastic could have been a bit better. Also, the rearview camera resolution definitely needs improvement to come at par with segment standards and needs active gridlines too.

In terms of space, the Volkswagen Taigun fares pretty well but it isn’t the best in its segment and that’s down to its smaller dimensions. Boot space is one of the smallest in the segment but the design is good and it can still hold enough stuff for weekend trips and airport runs. Inside the cabin, the front offers good space along with comfortable seats but no electrical adjustment for them. In the second row, space is good due to the long wheelbase but like I said earlier, not the best in the business. The bench offers good cushioning with a decent backrest angle and an almost flat floor for better comfort for a third passenger. However, the slight issue here is that the seat is not very wide and hence despite the flat floor three occupants can be a squeeze. Also, one might notice the narrow compartment-type structure beneath the front seats. While this can be a bit uncomfortable for some over long journeys, I was told by VW officials that this cannot be changed as there’s a reinforcing beam running across the width of the car at that point and changing the design would compromise safety.

This brings us to safety and this is an area that the Volkswagen Taigun is very strong at. IN terms of structural rigidity, the MQ A0 IN platform is claimed to be 30% more rigid than the platform underpinning the Polo and Vento. The car gets up to six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS with EBD, multi-collision brakes, rear ISOFIX mounts, brake disc wiping and electronic differential lock.

This brings us to the most exciting part about the Volkswagen Taigun and that is its super impressive performance. During the drive, we were able to sample only the 1.5 Litre range with the DSG and 6-speed manual transmissions. The other engine includes a 1.0 L TSI unit, producing 115 ps and 178 Nm of torque between 1,750 to 4,500 rpm.

The 1.5 L unit we experienced produces 150 ps and 250 Nm of torque and is going to be the pick for driving enthusiasts. Off the line power build up in an eager manner but there is a bit of linear feel to it. Hence, the acceleration is quick yet smooth and once you get past 1,800 rpm is when the effortless power delivery begins and past 3,000 rpm is when things get sporty and exciting. Making things better is the slightly sporty engine sound, which adds to the overall engagement. Reaching 150 kmph is a breeze and even at 180 kmph the engine felt like it had some reserve left.

Both gearboxes performed well to live up to the expectations of an enthusiast but my personal pick would be the DSG. Irrespective of the speed and situation, the unit always offers quick shifts and holds on to the revs in Sports mode. If you still need more control of the gearbox then there are pedal shifters too. The manual unit offers short throws and clean shift slots along with an aptly weighted clutch to offer a thoroughly engaging experience. But hey, the manual version misses out on the superb digital instrument cluster and sunroof in case those matter to you.

In terms of handling, the Taigun turned out to be fantastic! Rock-solid on a straight line and willing to do ballet over the corners. There is a bit of body roll but the car follows the intended line well and is a point and shoot affair even at high speeds. The steering isn’t as light as the Korean siblings but is comfortable to use in traffic and offers good feedback at speed along with the brake pedals.

So should you buy one?

The answer to this question lies largely in what the Volkswagen Taigun pricing is across the variant range. In my opinion, the Taigun is the best-looking vehicle in its segment and offers a good balance between space, features, comfort and practicality. Where it fares stronger is in the safety department and in the performance area, it clearly is ahead of all its rivals and by a fair distance. It is undoubtedly the most exciting SUV to drive in its segment.

That said, the pricing needs to be competitive and going by the Skoda Kushaq pricing the Taigun also will be positioned as a premium product. This means it won’t necessarily undercut the Koreans by a significant margin. Good pricing then in my opinion will be for the 1.0 L range and the 1.5 manual variants to be priced less than the Kushaq and the 1.5 GT DSG will undoubtedly be more expensive than its Czech sibling but Volkswagen has to resist the temptation of going overboard because their future in India rests a lot on the success of the Taigun and as brilliant as the vehicle might be in some areas, it isn’t perfect and catering only to a handful of enthusiasts in India isn’t going to make things sustainable for Volkswagen.

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