The revered Polo now has another big sibling in town. The Volkswagen Taigo boasts higher ground clearance, commodious spaciousness and a sleek body profile which hopes to fill a niche market for aspirational buyers. We spent the day touring Gauteng roads to sample the SUV to find out if its extravagant launch party was a worthy welcome!
What we like: Premium design, bigger boot space, higher ground clearance and heated seating.
We don’t like: Difficult to differentiate between the Volkswagen Taigo from the T-Cross.
The Polo and Polo Vivo remain the mainstay for Volkswagen sales in our local market. The Volkswagen hatch makes up almost 50% of nationwide sales in the subcompact A segment; a category which itself makes up just over a quarter of all passenger vehicle sales nationally. In this breath, it may seem strange that the decision makers in Wolfsburg continually sign off on a never-ending list of SUVs while their hatchback portfolio dwindles as the months go on.
Foresite is the driving force behind this logic. With the growth of the SUV market overtaking the once prosperous hatchback, the Mzansi branch of Volkswagen once again wants to capitalise on this and dominate the SUV space with multiple offerings in their portfolio.
This justification for presenting the public with yet another subcompact SUV underpinned by the same platform as the Polo is how Volkswagen hopes to win more market share in the A0 SUV category. One in which the existing T-Cross already competes; a model which shares the MQB platform with the newcomer Taigo, the seasoned Polo and the T-Roc.
While we can imagine the latest offerings from VW are intended to entice new buyers to the brand, the T-SUV range in their portfolio is also intended to bridge the gap for existing aspiration buyers who are looking for a more premium upgrade after their first set of wheels – which in this scenario is typically a Polo.
Therefore the Taigo slots between the boxier T-Cross and the larger and more expensive T-Roc. These models all seek to cater for a different detailed customer, once which Volkswagen assures won’t become too niche and inadvertently cannibalise their own portfolio.
Prioritising Style and New Features
The Volkswagen Taigo prioritises style, features, space and comfort over the practicality and accessibility of the T-Cross, its sleek looks are more appealing than its next of kin – an already attractive SUV. The body style is eclectic, borrowing features from SUVs, sedans and the traditional swooping lines of coupes, despite having two more doors.
This design recipe has proven fruitful for premium German models in more recent history with Volkswagen’s subsidiary, Audi, enjoying success in their Sportback range.
Larger Boot Space
The superficial aspects of the Taigo only constitute a small portion of its intended appeal. The model is the longest in Volkswagen’s trio of A0 SUVs measuring in at 4266 mm while enabling it to boast a commodious boot volume, albeit 5 litres less than the sizable 445 of the T-Roc. The interior is of the expected Volkswagen standard with plush materials dominating most of the surfaces in reach of the driver. The cabin itself shares many components from the Polo and T-Cross which should make it familiar to VW-loyal shoppers who are returning to the brand for another purchase.
Same Quality Interior
Admittedly, jumping out of the Polo R-Line and into the driver’s seat of the Taigo for its national launch gave a good indication as to how identical the interiors really are while the taller stature of the newcomer SUV was expectedly more prone to cornering sway at speeds – nothing alarming though. Lugging around the sub 1,2 tonne mass is the dependable turbo 1,0-litre triple coupled to a 7 speed DSG gearbox. This is the same powertrain that can be found in the Polo and T-Cross and is the solitary selection throughout the Taigo range.
Optimal Speed – For Some
Its moderate performance is sufficient in moving the model from stationary to highway speeds although its 85 kW and 200 N.m will not offer any mind blowing performance. Maximum torque is available from as little as 2000 rpm but momentary lag bogs instantaneous acceleration. The raspy three-cylinder quietens down at highway speeds while a plush and comfortable ride devoid of wind-noise dominates the experience in the cabin – even on the blacked out 18-inch Misano rims on some choice Gauteng road surfaces.
Different Levels of Specs
The Volkswagen Taigo range is divided into three levels of specification, the entry level Life model, the mid range Style and the top of the range R-Line which was tested on launch. Each offers its own level of standard options while add ons can quickly take the price into the clutches of mid-size SUVs. Some of the niceties which were included on our fully loaded model was the IQ.Light (standard), IQ.Drive Package, Digital Cockpit Pro, heated seats, tilting and sliding sunroof and mobile induction charging.
Pricing and Model Line-up
The Volkswagen Taigo range is available as follows;
Taigo Life 1.0TSI 85 kW DSG – R429 900
Taigo Style 1.0TSI 85 kW DSG – R464 100
Taigo R-Line 1.0TSI 85 kW DSG – R486 000
All Volkswagen Taigos come with a 3-year/120 000km mechanical warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 15 000km intervals, and a standard 3-year 45 000km service plan applies.
Looks aside, it is still difficult to differentiate the Volkswagen Taigo from the T-Cross – a model which has received numerous awards for its versatility and practicality, however Volkswagen South Africa are positioning it in such a way that it is more appealing to an individualistic audience. Buyers of non R-Line models, which are equally priced, just need to decide if the Taigo is worth as much as R50 000 more than the T-Cross – depending on the derivative.
Words: Alex Shahini