Volkswagen Taigun review

15 Jul, 2013 12:15am Jo Oliveira

We get behind the wheel of the little up!-based SUV concept


Realising the potential for an A-segment SUV, VW has all but confirmed that it’s committed to putting this Taigun concept into production. It’s early days yet, but even at this stage there’s plenty to get excited about. The Taigun’s raised ride height and compact proportions are great for getting around town, the looks are well thought-out and this 1.0-litre TSI engine is a really great alternative to Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost.

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.

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looks a lot like a dacia...but costs a lot more. so whats the point?

It's far too early to dish out stars, whatever the number, to something so far away from being ready for production. Four stars for something you describe yourself as too noisy and lacking polish? Really! You do your credibility no good at all by this sort of thing.
Written in these sort of terms the article can easily be confused with a puff for a given manufacturer.

If you were merely to commend it's appearance (which, incidentally, I would go along with) then there could be no complaint.

I hope that 4WD is an option, otherwise the Suzuki Jimny will continue to have the small off-roader market to itself.

Whenever I see a non-4WD SUV, I think of the Rover Streetwise, a vehicle that - apart from its gruesome name - was a concept years ahead of its time.

There are a couple of well-kept examples near me, and they really look quite good, even now.

It resembles a dacia.

Fiat did the plastic panel and high ride height thing way back in 1980 with versions of the Panda.

If they make this, I will march down to the VW dealer and pay my deposit. I want a tall VW Up! - this is just the job.

Great little car - I had one (2WD) for a while and it was like a mountain goat.

Terrific in snow too, probably because of the narrow-section tyres.

Just so damned ugly...

Beautiful looking car, these people mentioning Dacia are blind or stupid or both.

The Panda 4x4 knocks this into a cocked hat. And it looks terrible.

Earlier than that Chrysler, produced the Matra Rancho in 1977, way ahead of its time.

I can see the appeal, it would suit me fine now my back problem is more dictating my choice of vehice, but I really wish they'd do a 3 door version as well..

I don't see why not. VW should hurry up and bring this little SUV into the market sooner than later. It looks remarkably better than the car its based on.

Key specs

  • Price: £12,000 (est)
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque: 109bhp/175Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 9.2 seconds/116mph
  • Economy/CO2: 60.1mpg/110g/km
  • Equipment: Air-con, split tailgate, electric windows, LED daytime running lights
  • On sale: 2016