2023 Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1,0TSI 85kW/116bhp DSG

2023 Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1,0TSI 85kW/116bhp DSG

Volkswagen’s Taigo takes the Polo, pumps it up and adds a swooping roofline to its sleek aesthetics in the hopes ofdabbling further in the premium compact crossover segment.

Curvaceous Cross

The much-vaunted Volkswagen Polo now has another crossover spinoff in town. With its sleek coupé-like profile, the Taigo looks to fill a niche market for aspirational buyers taken with the capable (and mechanically related) T-Cross but after a bit more visual pizzazz. We spent the day touring Gauteng roads to find out if its extravagant launch party was a worthy welcome.

2023 Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1,0TSI 85 KW DSG

The Polo and Polo Vivo remain the mainstay for Volkswagen sales in our local market. The pair account for almost 50% of nationwide sales in the compact B segment, a category which itself makes up just over a quarter of all passenger vehicle sales nationally.

In light of such findings, it may seem strange 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. Foresight is the driving force behind this logic. With the growth of the SUV market overtaking the once-prosperous hatchback, Volkswagen SA again wants to capitalise on this trend and dominate the SUV space with multiple offerings in its portfolio.

Volkswagen Taigo R-Line

This justification for presenting the buying 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. It’s one in which the well-received T-Cross already competes, a model that shares the MQB platform with the newcomer Taigo and the seasoned Polo.

While we can imagine that the latest offerings from VW are intended to entice new buyers to the brand, the T-SUV range in its portfolio is also intended to bridge the gap for existing buyers looking for a more premium upgrade after their first set of wheels, which in this scenario is typically a Polo.

Volkswagen Taigo R-Line

As such, the Taigo slots in between the boxier T-Cross and the larger, more expensive T-Roc. These models each cater to a different customer demographic and Volkswagen assures us that these won’t become too niche and inadvertently cannibalise its portfolio.

The new Volkswagen Taigo prioritises style and features over the practicality and accessibility of the T-Cross. Its sleek looks are even more appealing than its next of kin, already an attractive SUV. The body style is eclectic, borrowing features from SUVs, sedans and the traditional swooping lines of coupés. This design recipe has proven fruitful for premium German models in more recent history, with Volkswagen’s subsidiary Audi enjoying success with its Sportback offerings.

Volkswagen Taigo R-Line

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 4 266 mm, it accommodates a 440-litre boot, just five litres shy of the T-Roc’s. The interior is of the expected Volkswagen standard, with plush materials dominating most of the surfaces within reach of the driver. The cabin shares many components with the Polo and T-Cross, which should make it familiar to VW-loyal shoppers returning to the brand. Propelling the sub-1,2-tonne Taigo is VW’s dependable 1,0-litre, three-cylinder turbopetrol TSI unit. Coupled with a 7-speed DSG gearbox, this unit also does service in the Polo and T-Cross and is the sole selection available in the Taigo range.

With 85 kW on tap, the Taigo’s performance can be described as sufficient. Thankfully, its 230 N.m of peak torque is available from as little as 2 000 r/min, but some momentary lag occasionally blunts acceleration. The raspy three-cylinder quietens at motorway speeds while a comfortable ride – even on the 18-inch Misano rims on some choice Gauteng road surfaces – and minimal wind noise permeating the cabin mean the Taigo is a civilised cruiser.

2023 Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1,0TSI 85 KW DSG - interior

The Taigo range is divided into three levels of specification: the entry-level Life model, the midrange Style and the top of the range R-Line driven here. Each offers its own level of standard features, but add-ons can quickly take the price into mid-size SUV territory. Some of the niceties in our fully loaded model included the IQ.Light (standard), IQ.Drive Package, Digital Cockpit Pro, heated seats, tilting and sliding sunroof and mobile induction charging. All models come with a three-year/120 000 km mechanical warranty and a 12-year anticorrosion warranty. Services take place at 15 000 km intervals, and a standard three-year/45 000 km service plan applies.

Looks aside, it’s still difficult to differentiate the Volkswagen Taigo from the T-Cross, a model that’s received numerous awards for its versatility and practicality. In the R-Line’s case, Volkswagen is positioning it to appeal to a more style-conscious audience. Buyers of similarly priced non-R-Line models need to decide if the Taigo is worth as much as R50 000 more than the T-Cross, depending on the derivative.

  • Like its MQB counterparts, the Taigo benefits from steering-wheel mounted buttons and a configurable driver’s display.
  • Expect frugal economy from the 1,0-litre motor.
  • Drivers will appreciate the familiar Volkswagen gear lever positioned in the centre console.
  • The extra length means the Taigo comes with 440 litres of claimed boot capacity.
  • The roofline feeds into a continuous rear lightbar, which gives the Taigo a unique night-time signature.
  • The range-topping R-Line model comes with only aesthetic upgrades.
  • You could think this is the inside of a Polo, and you wouldn't be wrong, since they share many familiar bits.
  • Despite the sporty looking 18-inch rims, the low-profile tyres still managed to soak up road imperfections.
  • Unique styling differentiates the Taigo from the rest of the VWT-SUV clan.

TCHNICAL DATA 2023 Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1,0TSI 116bhp/85 KW DSG

  • Price: R486 000
  • Engine: 1,0-litre, 3-cyl, turbopetrol
  • Transmission: 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic
  • Max Power: 116bhp/85 kW @ 5 000 r/min
  • Max Torque: 200 N.m @ 2 000 r/min
  • 0–100 km/h 0-62MPH: 10,0 seconds*
  • Top speed: 200 km/h*
  • Fuel consumption: 5,4 L/100 km*
  • CO2 emissions: 123 g/km*
  • Rivals: Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Toyota Corolla Cross, Haval Jolion
  • + premium design, bigger boot space, higher ground clearance and heated seating
  • - may sit a little too close to the cheaper and capable T-Cross for comfort
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