What Car? says...
Until recently, coupé SUVs were reserved for people with expensive tastes, but the new Volkswagen Taigo is here to change that.
Instead, the Taigo (pronounced 'tie-go') aims to have all the style of cars such as the Mercedes GLC Coupé but with more compact measurements.
In fact, save for the stylish shape, it would be fair to argue that the Taigo is more part of that class than the coupé SUV one.
That’s not an easy position to be in because not only does the Taigo have to prove itself against those two, but it also has to go head-to-head with all their competitors. That means taking on the Audi Q2, Ford Puma, Mini Countryman and Skoda Kamiq. Does it really have what it takes?
Well, to give the Taigo the very best odds, Volkswagen has equipped it with a choice of two different petrol engines, with power outputs that range from 94bhp to 148bhp. You also get the choice of either a manual or DSG automatic gearbox.
On top of that, there are three different trim levels to choose from: Life, Style and R-Line. Even the entry-level version comes well equipped and all have benefitted from Volkswagen’s recent digitalisation of their interiors, with analogue dials becoming a thing of the past. It all sounds pretty promising, doesn’t it?
Join us over the next few pages as we test just how good the Taigo is, and whether it can compete with the best rivals.
Then, if you decide that the Taigo or any of its rivals are for you, make sure to use our free What Car? New Car Buying service to see how much you could save without any of the awkward haggling. It has lots of new coupé SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Despite its modest power output, the Volkswagen Taigo’s entry-level 1.0 TSI 95 petrol engine performs adequately enough. It doesn’t need working hard to get up to speed and it does an admirable job of keeping momentum on uphill stretches of road. You don’t have to frantically change down a gear to keep the engine revving higher, for example.
The more powerful 110 is our preferred engine, though. With 108bhp, it responds quickly to your inputs and will get you up to motorway speeds with less effort. The official 0-62mph time is 10.4sec – about a second quicker than the 95. The 110 is available with either a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox. We'd stick with the manual, because the auto can be a bit slow to shift down when you need a sudden burst of power. Both versions suffer from a small amount of turbo lag when you first put your foot down, but acceleration is pretty brisk once the turbo kicks in.
For something even faster, the 1.5 TSI 150 is worth considering. With 148bhp, it has a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.3sec (faster than the Ford Puma Ecoboost mHEV 155), so it's even more willing when you need a burst of speed. It’ll also carry a full load of passengers and their luggage without a worry in the world. It’s good, but we don’t think it justifies the extra cost over the 110.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Taigo's ride is well sorted and sits in the sweet spot between the firm suspension of the Audi Q2 and the softness of the Citroën C3 Aircross. It smooths out potholes and bumpy roads without making the compromise of bouncing you around over undulating roads.
Surprisingly, even on the 17in alloy wheels that come with the Style and R-Line trims, the Taigo remains a comfy car. It certainly feels better on a bumpy road than the firmer Puma or the Volkswagen T-Cross, and you can go for the optional 18in alloys on R-Line trim without significantly affecting the ride.
While its great ride and light steering might make it a pleasure when you're tootling around town or commuting, the trade-off is that the Taigo isn’t particularly talented if you take to a country road with any kind of vigour.
Body lean is fairly well-controlled and there’s plenty of grip on offer, but the steering remains a little too light to give you much confidence. As such, the Taigo is not really a car that provides fun or lots of feedback. If you want something more entertaining, we’d advise you to turn your attention to the Puma.
R-Line trim comes with a Driving Profile Selection switch (it’s optional with Style trim), which allows you to swap between four driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. The modes alter throttle response, the gearbox's aggressiveness, the weight of the steering, and other settings, but don't have much of an effect. We’d stick to Comfort mode.
Noise and vibration
Our favourite engine for the Taigo, the 1.0 TSI 110, is quiet enough at a cruise and never becomes particularly intrusive, even when you rev it hard. It's also very quiet at an idle, with very little vibration making its way into the cabin. At motorway speeds, road and wind noise is well isolated in all versions.
While the 110 comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, the 1.0 TSI 95 has to make do with five gears. That makes it the least refined of the line-up because it sits at higher revs when speeds increase, but even that version is good by class standards. Both manual boxes are light and easy to use, with an equally light and long travel clutch pedal that encourages you to drive in a relaxed manner.
A seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox is optional with the 1.0 TSI 110 engine and standard with the 1.5 TSI 150. It changes gear smoothly enough, but we’d stick with the six-speed manual where you can.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
When you climb inside the Volkswagen Taigo, you’ll find it easy to get comfy. All trim levels come with plenty of driver's seat adjustment, and you can move the steering wheel up, down, in and out. The only small demerit is that, while all trim levels come with built-in lumbar support, you can’t have adjustable lumbar support, even as an option.
Better news is that the interior is laid out in a sensible way, with all the relevant buttons and knobs stationed exactly where you’d expect, so you’ll quickly feel at home. What’s more, if you stick with entry-level Life trim, you get physical air conditioning controls, which are easier to use on the move than the touch-sensitive ones in higher trim variants.
All versions come with a digital display instead of more traditional analogue dials. The size depends on trim level, with Life getting an 8.0in screen and the two higher trims a 10.3in one. Regardless of which you go for, the display is clear and can show a wide range of information alongside your speedo, including power output, fuel efficiency and even full width map on the larger screen.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to the Taigo's raised seating position and slim front windscreen pillars, visibility out of the front is good and you’ll never struggle to see out at junctions.
Despite the sloping roofline, it’s much the same story when you look over your shoulder, thanks to the large rear windows. Your view straight out the back isn’t great though, because the small rear window restricts your vision. Fortunately, all versions of the Taigo come with front and rear parking sensors as standard and a rear-view camera can be added as an option.
Bright LED headlights are standard across the range, so you’ll be able to see well after dark. Style trim upgrades them to clever matrix headlights that allow you to keep full beam on without blinding other drivers.
Sat nav and infotainment
All Taigo models come with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that has a few touch-sensitive shortcut buttons along the edge of the screen.
Volkswagen gives you plenty of toys as standard, including DAB radio, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring (so you can use your phone apps on the screen). If you opt for either Style or R-Line trim, you also get built-in sat-nav.
The graphics are sharp and the system is quick to respond to your prods, even if you press lots of buttons in quick succession. Like many infotainment systems now, the Taigo’s relies almost entirely on the touchscreen, making it more distracting to use when you're driving than the rotary controller set-up in the Mini Countryman.
The quality of the Taigo's interior is better than it might seem at first glance, with pleasantly soft materials on top of the dashboard and a satisfying leather steering wheel on all trims.
Sadly, you’ll find no end of scratchy hard plastics everywhere else below eye level, and it could do with a bit more colour than the vast expanse of grey used.
We’d say that the Taigo's interior quality is only slightly better than in the Seat Arona (a car that's cheaper, even in its highest trim). That’s fairly disappointing, and we’d direct you to the Audi Q2 or Countryman if plushness is important.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Volkswagen Taigo offers plenty of headroom and seats that slide a good way back for lots of legroom, so even people measuring north of six feet won’t find themselves struggling for space in the front. The width is impressive, and you won’t find you and your front-seat passenger rubbing shoulders.
There’s ample storage space up front, too. The Taigo has a decent-sized glove box, door bins that can swallow a large bottle of water, a deep cubby in the central armrest and a space for your phone in front of the gearstick, which doubles as a wireless charger on all trims.
Typically, cars with coupé SUV styling suffer when it comes to rear headroom. We’re happy to report that the Taigo isn’t one of those cars. In fact, even your tallest friends will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of headroom on offer, which is only marginally less than in the front.
Leg room in the back is generous too, with ample knee room and a good amount of space under the front seats for passengers' feet. It’s not quite as spacious as the Skoda Kamiq (the class leader in this respect), but there’s definitely more space back there than you’ll enjoy in the Ford Puma.
It’s not quite the same story for a middle-seat passenger, because the centre seat is slightly raised. Six-footers will struggle for headroom there.
Seat folding and flexibility
To help you load larger items, the Taigo's rear seats can be split 60/40 and folded flat. That’s pretty standard for the class but isn’t as versatile as the 40/20/40 split folding seats that you’ll find in the Mini Countryman.
Other than that, the Taigo’s rear seats don’t do anything fancy, like sliding backwards to make more space, something the Countryman and VW T-Cross both offer.
In real-world terms, it translates into six carry-on suitcases and will easily swallow a buggy or a good bulk buy at the cash and carry.
If that’s still not enough space, the Kamiq and VW T-Roc will each swallow one more suitcase under their parcel shelves and the Puma an additional two.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
As a cash purchase, the entry-level Volkswagen Taigo costs about the same as the Ford Puma and undercuts the Mini Countryman but costs more than the Skoda Kamiq. In fact, just like its size, its price sits perfectly in the middle of its two siblings, the VW T-Cross and the VW T-Roc.
Even better than that, your investment should be a sound one, because the Taigo is expected to hold its value well over three years – better than almost all its competitors, with the exception of the T-Roc.
It should also be relatively cheap to run. According to official WLTP figures, our favourite engine, the 1.0 TSI 110, with a manual gearbox should average more than 50mpg and produce 124g/km of CO2. Impressively, those numbers are almost as good as the Puma 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid's.
Equipment, options and extras
Despite being the entry-level version, even Life trim gets plenty of toys, including 16in alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, electrically heated wing mirrors, adaptive cruise control and all the infotainment kit.
Taking a step up to Style trim adds larger 17in alloy wheels into the mix, as well as clever LED matrix headlights, silver roof rails, sports seats and the upgraded infotainment system and built-in sat nav that we mentioned earlier.
The most expensive trim, R-Line, does without the LED matrix headlights but gets sportier exterior styling alongside Style trim’s other toys.
That’s not particularly impressive, and puts it below Mini (joint fifth), Skoda (12th) and Audi (18th), but above Ford, which finished down in joint 27th.
Every Taigo comes with a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty. That matches what Audi and Skoda offer but doesn’t come close to Hyundai’s five-year warranty, and both are eclipsed by Kia’s seven-year one.
Safety and security
When it was tested for safety by Euro NCAP, the Taigo was awarded the full five stars, scoring well at protecting adult and child occupants. The Puma, Kamiq and T-Roc also got five stars when they were tested, but it’s hard to directly compare because the tests get more stringent every year.
In terms of safety equipment, the entry-level car comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-change side assist, hill-start assist and a driver alert system that detects fatigue. R-Line versions also get high-beam assist and a system that helps you in traffic jams.
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Because it’s a new model, the Taigo didn’t feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, but Volkswagen as a whole didn’t do all that well. The brand finished in 20th position out of 30 car makers, ahead of Ford but behind its sibling brands Audi, Seat and Skoda. Read more here
No - there’s no fully electric version of the Volkswagen Taigo, and it’s not available as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid car. That doesn’t mean it will cost a fortune to run, though, because most of its engines are efficient. The 1.0-litre TSI 110 petrol, for example, should average more than 50mpg according to official tests. Read more here
We think the best engine for the Taigo is the mid-range 1.0-litre petrol with 108bhp (badged 1.0 TSI 110). It provides enough performance for most situations and is pleasantly efficient. We’d team that with Life trim, which is the entry-level choice and comes with 16in alloy wheels, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control. Read more here
The main difference between Life and R Line trim is how much equipment they come with, and how much they cost. Life is the entry-level choice and has most of your equipment needs covered – it’s our favourite choice in the Taigo range. R Line trim is more expensive, and comes with luxuries including 17in alloy wheels, sports seats and sportier styling than regular Taigos. Read more here
The Taigo should be a very safe car. Every version comes with lots of safety features, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), plus a system to stop you changing lanes into the path of another car and a driver attention monitor. In addition, when the Taigo was tested by Euro NCAP safety experts it was awarded a full five stars out of five. Read more here
The Taigo has a 440-litre boot, which is more storage volume than you get in the Seat Arona and Toyota Yaris Cross rivals. Our road testers managed to fit in six carry-on suitcases. Read more here
|RRP price range
|£25,860 - £33,675
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|MPG range across all versions
|47.9 - 52.3
|Available doors options
|3 years / 60000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£1,433 / £2,002
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£2,867 / £4,004