Test Drive : Volkswagen Taigo R-Line 1.0 TSI 110 HP DSG7 : a worthy Polo successor ?

Small cars are no longer popular with manufacturers. They’re wiped out of many ranges as they’re either no longer profitable or victim of the high R&D costs of electric cars. Many buyers are replacing them with small urban SUVs, too. Let’s take the Polo, for example. It’s less fashionable now while the Taigo (a sort of sportier VW T-Cross) and is currently enjoying a massive success. We wanted to find out why…

Our test car was finished in Visual Green, looking good in the late Winter sunshine. The R-Line version adds black touches to the bodywork. The Taigo was a hit with many people we met during our seven days test. This really shows that small SUVs are now largely welcome by punters. It’s lowered roof and curvier hatch make it more stylish than the T-Cross.

I like it

Obviously, there is less interior and boot space in the Taigo than in the T-Cross (440 litres instead of 455). Fortunately, it gets one of those well-designed, sober and good looking interior that are one of Volkswagen’s trade marks. If you like things to stand out, it’s even possible to order interior body-coloured inserts. Ergonomics and driving position are good and we’d advise to select the top of the range infotainment system. Only this one gets a good old volume rotating switch on the dashboard along the steering knob. The Climatronic automatic aircon uses touch sliders but these can be replaced by knobs as well. Back space is as generous as in a Polo but you won’t get the T-Cross sliding rear seat.

Quite clever

The EA211 1.0 TSI 3-cylinder engine delivers 110 horsepower, which is more than enough to move about this 1260 kg small SUV. The 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox is a perfect match for it, makin for a relaxed everyday city traffic drive without sapping its liveliness once on the open road. However, it’s not as lively as the Ford 3-cylinder lump. Admittedly, the suspension settings are rather firm, but that doesn’t harm comfort. However, even though the R-Line tag might suggest « sport », the Taigo has no such pretensions.

I don’t like it

Some interior plastics don’t look too good, but it’s common practice to use them in cars from this lower segment. You could also complain about the engine’s lack of torque or the fact that it gets noisy when you climb up the rev range. However, once again, it was never designed to be driven at a racing pace on the Winanplanche special stage.

Why I buy it

The VW Taigo is currently the only urban SUV coupe available on the market. It is fashionable but it remains practical, can boast top interior fit and finsih, its engine and automatic gearbox work very well together, it’s quite comfortable while its asking price remains reasonable. The Life Business version using the same engine mated to a  manual gearbox retails for € 30,445 while the T-Cross is available from € 29,065. An equivalent Polo is more expensive, costing € 31,485 and upwards. At the end of our 724 km drive, we got a 7.2 l/100 km average consumption on the computer screen.

Why I don’t buy it

Knowing an equivalent Golf is available from € 32.045, we would choose that one… or, perhaps, a Ford Puma, as its  3-cylinder engine is more eager and pleasing ? As you can see, there is fierce competition for the small Taigo, including the Toyota Yaris Cross. These cars are bread and butter today, as they are still affordable for most punters. The small 1.0 engine is adequate and does the job about as well as the bigger 1.5 one. However, it could do with a bit more torque and sometimes it feels too lazy as well. Some will find the suspension settings too hard for their liking or lament the dashboard is too drab without the coloured inserts. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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