REVIEW | Why the VW Taigo R-Line is a glamorous option

Over the past month or so our test garage has seen a host of Volkswagen compact models

08 November 2023 - 10:01
By Brenwin Naidu
Crisp styling cues are typically Volkswagen.
Image: Supplied Crisp styling cues are typically Volkswagen.

Over the past month or so our test garage has seen a host of Volkswagen compact models.

Like most parking lots in the country where products from the brand form the majority of what South Africans drive.

Starting with the Polo Vivo, into the T-Cross, then the proper Polo and, last week, the Taigo, our refresher of B-segment Volkswagen models has been complete.

You have to hand it to the German firm: the consistency of its vehicles is hard to fault. Each interaction with this quartet of products showed a commonality in build quality, refinement and road manners, offering a layer of polish a cut above what is usually expected in their respective categories.

Of course, you pay to play. Take the Taigo, for example, catering to buyers who want the practicality of a Polo with a dollop of added glamour.

It comes in at R475,000 for the standard Life grade, with the R-Line going for R537,100. The middle-tier Style will set you back R512,800. And this is before you start playing with the options lists. The standard service plan is three-year/45,000km with a three-year/120,000km warranty.

The Taigo's crossover-coupé looks are well-received.
Image: Supplied The Taigo's crossover-coupé looks are well-received.

Consider that similar money gets you into crossover options such as the Kia Seltos, Toyota Corolla Cross, Haval Jolion, BAIC X55, Peugeot 2008 and Omoda C5. At the Taigo R-Line price range, you can even go a segment above, into models such as the Haval H6 and Mazda CX-5.

Stylish though it is, the Volkswagen faces an onslaught from better equipped and more competitively priced rivals from South Korea, Japan and China.

Still, many buyers out there would say the refinement and sophistication of the Taigo warrants the outlay.

On the road, that assertion holds credence as the Volkswagen tackles everything you throw at it with decorum. It is not easily flustered, whether dealing with rippled road surfaces or waterlogged asphalt, as Johannesburg experienced this week.

The only hint to moments of duress in these conditions was slippage from the front axle on take-off. Unlike the larger T-Roc, you cannot have the Taigo with 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

With a 4,266mm length, 1,757mm width and 1,515mm height, it cuts a respectable profile. The sloping rear has not appeared to impinge too severely on luggage compartment space, boasting 440l with the seats up. Just 5l less than what you get in the more expensive T-Roc 1.4 TSI Design.

Power and transmission across the Taigo range is handled by the familiar 1.0l TSI, paired with the widely-applied seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.

The cabin is identical to that of the Polo, not a bad thing.
Image: Supplied The cabin is identical to that of the Polo, not a bad thing.

There is little to fault about the pairing, save perhaps a clunky shifting characteristic when you operate the manual paddles through the first three or four ratios. Most drivers will end up leaving the DSG to its own devices anyway.

Outputs from the turbocharged three-cylinder engine are 85kW and 200Nm. It feels much stronger in reality, with a flexible nature and strong enough legs for regular freeway overtaking. Our average consumption after nearly 400km was 8.1l/100km, quite a bit off the 5.4l/100km claimed by the manufacturer.

Being the R-Line, our test unit was spruced-up by a slightly more aggressive exterior look, complemented by a Black Style package which boasted a set of painted 18-inch Misano alloys. The seats are upholstered in grey on black fabric, with embroidered R logos. Stainless steel pedals add a sporting touch.

A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is supported by the familiar eight-inch central infotainment screen. Extended functions are optional, including navigation and wireless smartphone charging.

Matrix LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, plus park distance control front and rear, are part of the standard features list.

Add options such as a sunroof, Beats audio system, reverse camera, keyless-entry as well as the semi-autonomous driving aids and the final tally of your Taigo R-Line could easily sniff the R600,000 mark.