Occasionally a concept car comes along that just needs to be built. That was certainly the case with the Volkswagen Taigun, which debuted at the 2012 Sao Paulo Motor Show – and as we got behind the wheel for the first time, Volkswagen all but confirmed to us that it’s aiming to have a production version on the road by 2016.
All the technology is either already here or being developed. The platform, for example, will come from the up!, which explains the Taigun’s diminutive proportions; it’s 110mm shorter than a Polo and 340mm shorter than a Nissan Juke. But unlike that car, VW probably won’t bother with four-wheel drive in Europe. That’s because it sees the Taigun as more of a jacked-up city car than an off-roader.
The model has been produced with developing markets such as Brazil in mind, so the short overhangs and underbody protection may well come in handy for travelling over the more uneven roads in such territories, as will the raised ride height.
The concept we drove is powered by a 1.0-litre TSI engine – essentially a turbocharged version of the up!’s three-cylinder. Here it produces 109bhp, while the naturally aspirated versions boast 59bhp and 74bhp respectively. It’s likely that all three engines will appear in the final production car.
A lot like Ford’s EcoBoost 1.0-litre, this engine produces quite a smooth three-cylinder thrum. However, this concept has barely any sound-deadening, so is currently far too noisy. It’s an impressive performer, though, launching the 985kg Taigun – an up! weighs 940kg – from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and on to a 116mph top speed.
The car allows for some seriously low running costs, too, with VW putting official fuel economy at 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions at 110g/km.
The Taigun still feels a lot like a concept from behind the wheel, with none of the polish you’d normally expect from a VW, but you can really get a sense of why this kind of car could be popular. The tiny proportions make it a breeze to place on the road, and the elevated position is perfect for seeing over other vehicles.
The styling will help sales, too, and it’s likely that the production car won’t look too dissimilar to this concept. In fact, if you tone down the headlights and smooth over the more outlandish bodywork creases, you could easily pass this off as an everyday VW.
The interior isn’t too outlandish, either, with the steering wheel, dials and centre tunnel all very closely modelled on the up!’s. What’s more, VW has clearly considered practicality. The wheelbase is only 60mm shorter than a Juke’s, giving reasonable rear legroom. There’s even a fairly large boot, at 280 litres with the seats in place and 987 with them folded. The rear screen opens independently of the bootlid, so you can easily load bags.
VW expects the Taigun to start at around £12,000 – and if the production car can deliver this concept’s exciting looks, practical proportions and low running costs, it’s certain to be a big success.