The Volkswagen Taigun was our companion on the journey to witness the most beautiful sunset in the entire country
The Volkswagen Taigun was our companion on the journey to witness the most beautiful sunset in the entire countryShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

Chasing the sunset: The Volkswagen Taigun goes to Kanyakumari

We take the Volkswagen Taigun on its first road trip, to the southernmost tip of mainland India

The sun is a wonderful thing. Without it, there would be no seasons, no plants, no warmth. Heck, without it life as we know it, would cease to exist. And yet, in our everyday lives we don’t really take a minute to appreciate it. Okay the heat is a bit inconvenient on summer afternoons but when the sun rises and sets, thanks to how light refracts through the atmosphere, we get an incredible show of colours: starting from yellow, transitioning to a deep gold (that our photo and video crew drool for), then to an orange and if you’re lucky, the skies around glow purple before everything fades to black. An orchestrated spectacle, played out for you twice a day without fail and without a fee. You can peek your head out from your window, walk into your balcony or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, go out for a stroll and enjoy this ever-changing painting that marks the start and the end of each day. Or, if you’re a little loony like us, you could head to a place with the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the entire country. But before I tell you where we went, let’s talk a little bit about what we drove there — the Volkswagen Taigun. More specifically, we took the Taigun GT with the 1.5-litre TSI engine and the six-speed manual gearbox, our pick of the range when it comes to the Thrill of Driving.

The Taigun handles rough roads like a champ
The Taigun handles rough roads like a champShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

Why the Taigun? Well with the entire automotive industry raving about how good it is, I wanted to try a slice of the India 2.0 cake for myself and while a first drive is one thing, you can only truly judge a car with a proper road trip. A trip to the southernmost tip of mainland India. A trip to Kanyakumari. Kanyakumari is quite a special place actually — It is the only place in India where three oceans meet (the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) and the only district in India with both an east coast and a west coast. Yes, I’d used Google to the fullest before we left. It’s honestly incredible how many things Kanyakumari could be known for. Supposedly, it is also the birthplace of the Tamil language, is also home to a 3000 year-old temple and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial signifies the place where Swami Vivekananda sat for his three day long meditation which changed his life. The Taigun too, is quite a medley of significant events for Volkswagen. It is the brand’s first entry into the hotly-contested mid-size SUV space, the first Volkswagen to sit on the MQB-A0-IN platform that is designed for India and is also the first Volkswagen in India to wear the new (flatter) version of the Volkswagen logo.

With tons of adjustability you can get the perfect driving position for you
With tons of adjustability you can get the perfect driving position for youShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

The Taigun may also be one of the first SUVs in this space that can put a smile on your face, I think to myself as we head out from Bangalore before the sun has awakened. Bangalore-Kanyakumari takes about 12 hours, which means our 5:45am start time gave us little to no room to make it to the sunset that evening. I put the 1.5 TSI Evo through its paces once we’d left the clutches of the (omnipresent) Bangalore traffic. 148bhp and 250Nm may not leave the mid-size SUV pack for dead, but it is how that power and torque is delivered that makes driving effortless. With lots of low-end pull, you are excused for not downshifting in stop-go traffic and even when I needed to make quick overtakes on the highway, I rarely had to step out of sixth gear. And when you do get to work the gearbox, it is a joy, not a chore. A light clutch, a nicely sculpted gear knob, short throws and well-judged shifts. By the time I’ve finished reviewing the Taigun GT in my head, the sun has risen, soared up over our heads, before taking some solace behind the clouds. Clouds, I think to myself, can be our worst enemy today. Kanyakumari may be known for the most beautiful sun-related events, but if there’s clouds covering the entire show, we might as well sulk in our rooms. Sachin and Rohit (our videographer and photographer) reassure me that the weather will be on our side and to their credit, we were still a few hours away from Kanyakumari. We would’ve been closer if we hadn’t got a little too carried away with our elaborate lunch stop at Saravana Bhavan. Our ETA now read 6:03pm. Too late. It was time to put the pedal to the metal.

The 1.5 TSI Evo engine is butter smooth
The 1.5 TSI Evo engine is butter smoothShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

The Taigun’s power delivery is as smooth as its engine is refined, whisper quiet even at the 100kmph speed limit on the highway. It is also fairly quiet far above the speed limit, allegedly. The 1.5 TSI Evo doesn’t really irk you to go fast, so the time I was making up wasn’t because of outright speed, but it was because of how well the Taigun is set up in terms of its ride and handling. It is reassuringly stable, glued to the ground with minimal body roll through the flowing corners of NH48 and enough compliance and ground clearance to power through the broken sections of the highway. Made in India, for India hasn’t diluted the Volkswagen-ness, not one bit. Actually, while the driving experience is typically Volkswagen, what is a bit un-Volkswagen like is the interior. Not in terms of features, because there is wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto on the extremely responsive 8-inch touchscreen, there are also only USB Type-C ports which get a big thumbs up from me and there is obviously automatic climate control, among other features. It is also typically Volkswagen-like when it comes to ergonomics — pretty much every button, knob and lever is where you’d expect it to be. The googly comes by the way of the red strip of plastic that goes across the dash on this Wild Cherry Red GT variant, with an inlay of faux carbonfibre, both of which add liveliness and a scent of youth to the cabin.

Maps give you a great sense of perspective as to how special Kanyakumari’s location really is
Maps give you a great sense of perspective as to how special Kanyakumari’s location really isShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

“Stop staring at the dash, concentrate on driving,” Rohit barks at me as he sees the sun get closer and closer to the horizon. I, on the other hand, am still awestruck by how we have 24 hours (give or take a few minutes) each day, governed by the Sun. It doesn’t care that we ate a little more than we should have, or that we stopped to click way too many pictures of the Muppandal Wind Farm. The Sun was dipping into the horizon, but we’d made up some time. It was 5:47pm as we drove toward the famous sunset point, but it might as well have been 7:45pm because we couldn’t really see the sun. It wasn’t raining yet, but the clouds didn’t look like they could hold any longer. Even so, we parked the Taigun for some pictures and waited for the weather to clear under an umbrella, unlike the rest of the sunset lovers that were well on their way home. The longer the wait, the sweeter the kiss, eh? Sadly, the sun didn’t seem keen on giving us some action that day. Sunrise tomorrow is when we get redemption, we said to ourselves.

The Volkswagen Taigun's full-width light bar looks really cool and gives it a unique identity on the road
The Volkswagen Taigun's full-width light bar looks really cool and gives it a unique identity on the roadShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

I slapped the snooze button at 5:35am the next day, got ready at light speed, woke up the ever-lazy duo of Rohit and Sachin and as soon as we swung open our room door, our hearts sank. Tip-tap-tip-tap. The sound of rain had never saddened me before but today, when all we needed was clear skies, it was raining on our parade. Literally. We still got out, headed to the sunrise point and waited with optimism. The sun did rise. It actually peeked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes before going back into hiding, but there was no orange. No golden light. It was all grey, with a smudge of yellow. Is this what we’d driven over a 1000km for? We all sang ‘no’ in unison, drove back to our hotel, marched back into bed and went back to sleep. We weren’t giving up that easy. That evening, we went out again, to the sunset point. This time, the clouds seemed a little more dispersed, the light a bit more direct, the sun a little keener on some face time. Rohit and Sachin could barely contain their excitement as they placed the Taigun for the picture. And then it happened. The rain went tip-tap-tip-tap on my windshield. “No way. Not now. Not on our last day.” I must’ve just about uttered these words as the rain let up. And by now, all the people that were crowding the area were back home again.

The sun came out, and it put out a proper show. From yellow, to a deep gold, to orange with hues of purple in the sky
The sun came out, and it put out a proper show. From yellow, to a deep gold, to orange with hues of purple in the skyShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

The clouds were making way, just for the three of us. The sun came out, and it put out a proper show. From yellow, to a deep gold, to orange with hues of purple in the sky. The perfect sunset? Not quite, but one that wasn’t just worth the wait, it had me, Rohit and Sachin hugging and cheering like never before. I don’t know if it was the setting that made me feel poetic, but I felt the Taigun passed the same emotion to Volkswagen. No premium car manufacturer has had it easy in India, Volkswagen is no exception. But with grit, determination and optimism toward the Indian market, the Taigun has risen and set light to the India 2.0 project we’d all been waiting for. It is packed with all the right kit, enthusiastic powertrains and timeless looks. If the clouds were grey a few years ago, the sun is bright orange as it rises on a new dawn for Volkswagen.

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