• Volkswagen Taigun Topline 1.0 TSI MT: First Drive Review

Is the future bright with downsized turbo petrol mills? The Taigun makes us believe so

Predicting the automotive future is quite a subjective topic nowadays. The ever-tightening emission norms ring in the death knell for high-capacity internal combustion engines and compel manufacturers to look towards hybrids and electric powertrains. For the enthusiast, that paints a bleak future. Hybrids though are still some time away from taking over, electrics even further so. In the meantime, manufacturers are looking into downsized engines. How do you eke out performance from a small engine? The answer lies in our magazine’s name (shameless plug alert). Turbocharging is the in-thing now. Suddenly, the future does not seem as bleak no?

The week we got the Taigun 1.0 TSI for review, we had a compact SUV and a hot hatch in the TURBOCHARGED stable as well. The common denominator between these three vehicles was a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol powertrain. This engine format has become the de-facto choice of carmakers given its ability to balance performance and emissions.

It is an important powertrain for Volkswagen too as a majority of Taigun buyers are going to opt for the smaller engine instead of the 1.5-litre format. Having driven the hot 1.5-litre variant, was I setting myself up for disappointment?

I reckon a part of the answer lies in the spec sheet. The Taigun here gets a 999cc three-cylinder powerplant and delivers 115PS and 178Nm. These are healthy numbers but then the powertrain has to contend with a slightly higher 1,650kg kerb weight.

On the road, the 1.0-litre Taigun does not meet the 1.5-litre’s performance benchmark but is fun-to-drive in its own way. The engine loves to be revved hard and once you get the turbo spooled up, gets upto 80kmph in surprisingly quick time. Surprising because power delivery is quite linear and the smooth motor masks speed well. Even more impressive is the driveability which I feel, is better than its larger cousin. Leave it in third gear and you can potter around in town all day long in a quite relaxed manner. The six-speed manual gearbox impresses with its short throws and light clutch action.

Three-cylinder motors arent hailed for refinement but the Taigun’s unit impresses with its smoothness. It purrs along even at highway speeds and it is only close to the redline that the uneven thrum of the motor betrays its three-pot roots. The additional well-spaced sixth gear ensures that the motor remains unstressed even at highway speeds that besides displaying a commendable 15kmpl fuel efficiency on the trip computer, allows you to sit back and enjoy the well-appointed cabin and the quality of materials inside. There is a sense of solidity in German cars which endear them a dedicated fan following. From the satisfying thunk when you close the door to the tactile touch of the switchgear, the Taigun is a special place to be in.

Adding to the premium experience is the plethora of features. It gets a cool-looking digital instrument console and a touch screen infotainment unit that’s quite intuitive. It also gets the latest tech like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, apps and wireless charging. More endearing is the India specific touches like cooled front seats and lots of clever storage spaces like a slot behind the gear lever to park your smartphone.

The other Germanic trait I really liked about the Taigun is its fine balance between ride and handling. The ride quality is pretty impressive and the Taigun tackles bad roads with aplomb. It is only on the really bad potholes and unmarked speed breakers that you can hear the suspension protest yet you remain well insulated. In the city, the light steering is a boon. As speeds rise, it weighs in nicely. In corners, bodyroll is well contained and the Taigun holds its line well. That said, I feel that at the limit, the 1.5-litre Taigun offers better front end grip owing to the larger engine’s extra weight over the front tyres.

Having spent a few days with the Taigun, I find the mid-size SUV to be quite endearing. First off, it looks like a scaled-down Tiguan with distinctive European styling. Then there is the 1.0-litre TSI powertrain.

While the 1.5-litre motor seems to singularly focus on performance, the 1.0-litre is multi-faceted. It offers fun and driveability in equal measure while the fuel efficiency shouldn’t make a big dent in your wallet. With prices starting at ` 10.49 lakh, the Taigun 1.0 TSI MT is way more approachable than the 1.5 TSI MT which costs ` 14.99 lakh (prices, ex-showroom). Simply put, the Taigun 1.5 TSI is like your hot-shot friend that you party with on the weekends but the Taigun 1.0 TSI is the friend you end up spending most evenings with.

Cars First drives

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