Volkswagen seeks B-SUV domination with Taigo

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Roc, arok, Cross, acqua, aigun, aos, avendor, alagon, eramont, iguan, iguan X, ayron X, haru, ouareg and now aigo. Gibberish? Look again and notice what’s missing. Certainly not the need for Volkswagen to expand its worldwide array of crossovers and SUVs.

Placing a T in front of each of those words, or in some examples, T-, turns them into model names. I’ve been taking a close look at one of the newest. Called Taigo, it’s new to the UK.

SUV, Crossover, something else?

So what is this extra model? Basically, another Polo-sized crossover for those who want a few more curves than the T-Cross offers. Call it a B segment SUV-coupe.

Volkswagen markets this little vehicle in two main regions, the other one being South America. Sold as the Nivus in Brazil, where it premiered in mid-2020, the 4,266 mm long model is also exported. The main destination are Argentina and a few other relatively close-by countries.

Built in Brazil and Spain

Production started first at the brand’s Anchieta plant in São Bernardo do Campo, near the city of Sao Paulo. Engines for Europe are obviously different as Brazil’s model runs on alcohol or petrol. Here, the Taigo has a small line-up of 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre engines. Drive is to the front-axle only.

The model manufactured in Spain offers neither a TDI alternative to the TSI units nor any electrification. That’s right: not even a mild hybrid. That isn’t unusual for the Volkswagen Group. As the car I drove for a week averaged 52 mpg and has a low CO2 average, there’s no issue.

Naturally there is stop-start and the top-spec R model grade test vehicle came with a DSG. Personally, I’d prefer a manual as torque is more adequate than genersous and the self-shifter isn’t the best advertisement for dual-clutch gearboxes.

The seven-speed transmission sometimes needs a good push of the throttle pedal to command a down-change. Also, backwards-forwards parking manoeuvres don’t always go smoothly. That’s not unique to the Taigo though – many other Volkswagen Group models with DSGs are similarly afflicted.

Stylish and spacious

And so to the good news of which there is an abundance. That starts with how it looks. In a word, cute. That VW sensibility is there too: generous glazing, a rakish tailgate which has a wash-wipe, plus purposeful wheel-arch extenders and in-built roof rails.

Perhaps a better description for the Taigo would be a curvier Polo, for that’s really also what it is. The interior is similar to that car’s, as is that of the T-Cross. On the R model grade you get a digital HVAC cluster and there is a decent sized touchscreen, chunky steering wheel and plastics which feel nicer than the hard and unloveable stuff in the T-Cross.

The door trims have lots of room for stuff as well as a bottle in each, the only place that really could be bigger being the cubby box between the seats. That might be because of the need to accommodate a conventional parking brake handle.

Nobody in this car will have cause for complaint about being uncomfortable, such is the amount of available space. Those in the back have good room for their feet, knees brush soft fabric rather than rigid plastic and even the tall won’t have to crane their necks. Volkswagen has achieved this by positioning the rear seats fairly upright but that seems to work well.

Big boot too

Even with that fairly steep slope of the back window, the boot has 440 cubic litres of capacity. There will therefore be people who buy a Taigo over a T-Roc as the larger model doesn’t have that much more by way of luggage space. The tailgate is light to pull down and when closing it (or any door) there is a pleasing, solid sounding clunk.

Three engine choices

The base engine offers just 70 kW (95 PS) and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. That’s it, no other choices. As well as being fairly weak on power, you’ll be using more fuel than the 81 kW (110 PS) and 200 Nm alternative. That’s because this one has an extra ratio so motorway speeds mean fewer engine revs. Both have three cylinders and a capacity of 999 cc and the pricier one can also be ordered with the seven-speed DSG.

Some will want a bit more power and torque so Volkswagen also offers a DSG-only 110 kW (150 PS) 1.5-litre option. I do wonder if this four-cylinder unit sounds as characterful as the little triple? Possibly not.

As with the T-Cross, handling is benign-to-fun. That’s as long as any driver looking to enjoy the Taigo accepts that there is going to be a decent amount of body roll. Understeer is equally plentiful as the grip limit is approached. The Taigo is never going to challenge the Puma for overall dynamic abilities yet the VW can be quite enjoyable all the same.

Summary

It isn’t hard to see why this new model is selling strongly already and has helped give sales leadership of the size class to the Volkswagen brand in recent months. T-Cross and Taigo combined are even ahead of the Golf (just), also at a Europe-wide level although they can’t catch the T-Roc.

There are already a couple of other SUV-coupes in the B segment but thanks to the allure of the VW badge, this is the model that most buyers will continue to want. And will there be even more VW T-something crossovers and SUVs? It’s a certainty.

The as-tested Volkswagen Taigo 1.0 TSI 110 PS DSG is priced from GBP29,155 OTR. Top speed is 119 mph, 0-62 mph takes a claimed 10.9 seconds, average Combined consumption is 37.3-55.2 mpg and the CO2 average is 134g/km.

Volkswagen seeks B-SUV domination with Taigo

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