Faux SUV crammed into the VW range proves unmemorable
Environmental protesters attacked SUVs in the UK last week and lowered the tires of hundreds of cars. The drivers woke up to find that at least one of their tires had failed and a leaflet that read “Your gas guzzlers kill” was pinned to their windshield. One of the cars attacked was an all-electric crossover.
Whatever the confusion about what powers these cars, eco-warriors these days must be confused by the blurring of the lines between hatchbacks, station wagons and supposed SUVs. The new VW Taigo won’t help there.
It’s billed as an “SUV coupe” but shares most of its underpinnings with a Polo, has the interior of a Golf and features a larger trunk than either. It has front-wheel drive and is powered by a 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It is less than 6 cm taller than a Polo and basically the same height as a Golf. It even weighs less than a Golf.
Defining it as an SUV seems absurd. To suggest it’s a coupe is just plain stupid. Nonetheless, we live in these times. You may weigh 40 pounds and barely move from the couch, but if you own a pair of sneakers, I guess you could call yourself an athlete.
The Taigo allows Volkswagen to squeeze another model into its lineup, sandwiched between the T-Cross and T-Roc. No, we didn’t think there was a gap there either, but here it is anyway.
The current T-Roc from 27,240 euros, the new Taigo from 27,745 euros and the T-Cross from 28,565 euros show how close these cars are to each other. Mind you, a facelifted T-Roc starts in May at 31,695 euros. It seems the arrival of the Taigo also coincided with a €4,455 price increase for the facelifted T-Roc. Timing really is everything.
Admittedly, it wasn’t a big task for VW to launch this new model as it already existed in South America as a Nivus SUV. However, VW is adamant that the Taigo has been “technologically adapted for Europe”. That means you get features like adaptive LED matrix headlights and adaptive cruise control not offered to our Latin cousins. We’re also getting a new R-Line trim level, as featured in our test car.
The automaker’s 1-litre TSI three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is as nippy as in VW’s other small cars, producing 110bhp in our test car and mated to the company’s well-regarded DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s certainly not a GTi, with a 0-100mph time of more than 10 seconds, but its power delivery is smoother than you might expect based on those stats. The DSG does its best to zip through the gears and keep revs decent, but step on the accelerator and the three-cylinder starts to make noise in the cabin.
In reality, the Taigo handles very similarly to the T-Cross, and while the ride leans toward the firm side of the dynamic equation, it’s certainly not uncomfortable. The Taigo swallows potholes without much jerk. Overall, it’s all very competent, if not very exciting.
As with the rest of the VW range, the interior is sleek and exudes that superiority over the rivals. It has its issues, like that pesky volume control bar under the 8-inch touchscreen, but it’s really not a deal-breaker for anyone.
The real problem for Taigo is that consumers will simply be inundated with these bogus SUVs and some buyers will have their heads spinning with all the model options on offer. Whichever you choose – T-Roc, Taigo or T-Cross – you should also take a test drive in Ford’s impressive Puma, which starts at €27,967 and is arguably a bit sharper to drive. There are also the cheaper Korean offerings from Hyundai Kona or Kia Niro (both available as EVs).
For what it’s worth, the T-Roc looks better than the Taigo while offering marginally more headroom and trunk space. But it’s not worth a price increase of €4,500.
In times of inflation, it’s worth stopping for a moment and considering what you’re getting for your crossover euro these days. Our test car – admittedly in the top class R-Line and with 3,735 euros for options such as a panoramic roof and heated front seats – would leave the showroom for 40,515 euros. For a car that is neither hybrid nor electric and is based on a Polo supermini, that’s very steep. For comparison: an R-Line version of the new Polo with a 1-liter petrol engine and DSG automatic costs 27,440 euros on the road.
The Taigo is a fine car for what it is, but it doesn’t do anything exciting or memorable, certainly not good enough to justify its inflated price tag over a new Polo.
At this rate, environmental protesters don’t need to deflate SUV tires as the price differential between regular cars and “crossover SUVs” continues to inflate.
Volkswagen Taigo 1.0 DSG auto R-Line: the facts
- Performance: 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine with 110 hp and 200 Nm of torque, matched to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
- 0-100km/h: 10.9 sec
- L/100km: 6.2.
- CO2 emissions: 140g/km.
- Our verdict: Smart but too expensive for a relatively forgotten car.