Motoring writer Ian Lamming saddles up for a ride in the latest SUV from Volkswagen
IF cars could be likened to horses, then the new Taigo would be a cob.
Not too big like a cart horse, not too flighty like a thoroughbred, just a solid, dependable, no-nonsense stalwart, which does the job in reliable fashion and doesn’t cost too much to buy or feed.
VW makes good old workhorses and the new Taigo is no exception. So what is it and where does it fit in the now-eight-strong SUV range?
Well, look between T-Cross and T-Roc and there used to be a hole; that void has now been filled by Taigo. But just for the hell of it, and to set it apart slightly, it offers coupé styling, marrying SUV with hatchback.
So the new model is blessed with the raised seating position we expect and love so much in our SUVs but the lines are rounded off a bit to give it a touch of coupe sleekness. Sounds good to me.
Taigo is 150mm longer than the T-Cross but 37mm shorter than the T-Roc, with a ride height to match both, so while looking sportier it still benefits from a large 440 litre boot and decent cabin space.
As well as a dramatic sloping roof line, Taigo also boasts a full-width rear light bar making it rugged yet contemporary.
SUVs are important to all manufacturers and with VW represent more than 40 per cent of total sales. In 2021 they accounted for 61,656 of its 147,826 sales in the UK, which is definitely a slice of cake worth having.
This particular Life model comes with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with 95PS, connected to a five-speed manual transmission – how very retro. But you know what? I’d forgotten that five cogs are plenty. I also had to check the capacity as even the 95PS version (there’s a 115PS 1.0 and a 150PS 1.5 in the range) is peppy and very willing.
On the long commute it has plenty of poke for the motorways, laughs in the face of hills and buzzes past the slothful with alacrity. It’s a really good drive.
Dynamics are excellent too. The small sporty steering wheel is chunky and direct giving Taigo rapid helm responses, just the ticket for towns and the twisty stuff. Ride is very comfortable, well damped and controlled and grip is excellent.
Life may be entry level but it comes with bags of standard kit. Technological features include LED lights and a host of driver assistance systems, including Travel Assist, Park Assist, Lane Change Assist and Proactive Occupant Protection, so everyone inside should remain nice and safe.
Life also gets black roof rails, front fog lights, a digital cockpit TFT dash display, inductive smartphone charging, a multifunction steering wheel and electric folding and heated door mirrors. Entry level maybe, but far from basic.
Inside, heater controls are manual, which is rather nostalgic and very easy to use, though there is the touchscreen infotainment to keep the kids happy.
Another plus in the face of highway robbery petrol prices is the fact that Taigo is very economical. I saw 66.6mpg on the trip computer one day bumbling around the leafy lanes and it never seemed to drop below 55 even on the motorway. Those sorts of figures make a massive difference to your purse, particularly if you are like me and clock up a lot of miles every week.
There are eight body colours available as well as seven alloy wheel designs and five upholstery options, so plenty to choose from.
Taigo is a great addition to the VW range, a good, solid contender which is great to drive and cheap to run. I’d get one now before the horse has bolted.
Model: VW Taigo Life
Engine: 1.0 three cylinder turbo
0-62mph: 11.1 secs
Top speed: 114mph
Combined MPG: 51.5
Transmission: five-speed manual
CO2 g/km: 124