Spotlight on TSI – Volkswagen India’s foray into the turbo-petrol era
Volkswagen’s new TSI-powered SUVs are setting the stage perfectly for the upcoming Taigun
The cabin looked familiar, except for the digital instrument cluster staring me in the face. A small change, but it goes a long way in elevating the cabin experience. The DSG gearbox selector in neutral, I jabbed at the accelerator pedal. The revs rose and fell with an enthusiasm that the older Tiguan lacked. This new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace had a different vibe to it. Maybe it was the bright orange paint on our test car — something unheard of on the sombre-looking Tiguan. Maybe it had to do with that new TSI engine under the hood. I spent the whole day with it, and managed to confirm my initial impression. The TSI engine at the heart of the Tiguan Allspace had really transformed the SUV and how it felt on the road. This shift, however, was a long time coming.
While we were all at home during the lockdown, the much talked about date to switch from BS4 to BS6 passed us by. The shift on April 1 was a momentous time for the automotive industry, and though it was overshadowed by the covid-19 situation, the country is now on par or better than the rest of the world when it comes to tailpipe emissions from automobiles. Volkswagen had its strategy in place well in advance — the shift to TSI power was fundamental to meet new regulations, while providing their buyers with an unmatched driving experience. TSI is synonymous with Volkswagen — introduced in the Passat and Jetta but democratised by the much-loved Polo GT — and has come to symbolise many things to the Indian enthusiast. Great performance tops that list without a doubt, but it also means cleaner tailpipe emissions and unmatched refinement. At the Volkswagen Group night that lead up to the Auto Expo, VW reiterated its commitment to cleaner technology with the TSI engine leading the charge.
Before we go any further, let us break down what the TSI engine really is. TSI is an acronym for ‘Turbocharged Stratified Injection’. Turbocharging is a concept we are becoming increasingly familiar with as downsizing of engines becomes the norm — it is a method of forced induction using a turbine that is driven by the car’s exhaust gasses. Meanwhile, stratified injection is a manner of directly injecting fuel in to the cylinder such that it is richer near the spark plug and allows for the fuel to be burnt better. Turbos, as we all know, enhance performance significantly without the need to use bigger engines and burn more fuel. Meanwhile, a stratified charge burns the fuel more efficiently and extracts as much power as it can every time petrol is ignited. These two technologies are married together in Volkswagen’s TSI engines to provide impressive performance with a flat torque curve, while being efficient and refined.
The first SUV to get Volkswagen’s TSI engine is the new Tiguan Allspace that had us thoroughly impressed. We've done massive road trips with the Tiguan TDI, to Sandakphu in the Eastern Himalayas and to Shingo-La in Ladakh, both times the SUV battling harsh, difficult terrain to get us to our destination. Those abilities now get ramped up with the new, bigger and more powerful Tiguan Allspace. The 2-litre TSI engine with 187bhp and 320Nm is high on performance and gets to the ton in less than 9 seconds, quicker than the already impressive Tiguan. Everything about it is a notch better than the engine it replaces — right from those first impressions of it being more free revving, to the added performance that you can indulge in when you properly spend time in it. The Tiguan’s TSI engine has great low-end grunt and even has snappier gearshifts. The dynamics have always been its strong suit, and now the sporty TSI engine allows you to exploit this better. And just so you can announce to the world that you are driving something special, the Tiguan’s design has been tweaked to match the ramped-up performance — the face is refreshed, it sheds the cladding on the side and comes in some really striking colours.
Hot on the heels of the Tiguan Allspace’s launch was the Volkswagen T-Roc. The T-Roc was an eyeball magnet at the Auto Expo and for good reason — it brings style and substance in to its segment like never before. The face will catch your attention first, and you’ll be left gawking till that sloping roofline is well out of sight. More importantly though, the 1.5-litre TSI engine that is going to be VW’s mainstay in the future makes its debut. This truly modern engine makes enough power, and has innovative technology to ensure it is efficient too. It makes 148bhp and 250Nm, really giving it solid performance. It is packed with technology too — ACT, or active cylinder technology for example, can switch off two of the four cylinders when not needed making it extremely frugal. The ability to deactivate cylinders is something normally seen on very high-end cars but that technology has finally trickled down to a more accessible price point.
The star of the show though, without a doubt, is the Volkswagen Taigun. Globally unveiled right before Auto Expo and undoubtedly one of the most exciting cars at the show, the Taigun is Volkswagen’s SUV designed and built in, and for India. The design with its sharp bodywork and crisp lines makes it unmistakeable, and it is based on the new MQB-A0- IN platform. The SUVW doesn't fall into a category, VW doesn't want it to. It is larger than a compact SUV but still smaller than mid-size. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most highly awaited launches of 2021.
The engines on offer are an interesting choice and tell you a lot about how Volkswagen is approaching this challenge. There will be two engines on offer — a locally built 1-litre TSI that will be shared with the Polo GT TSI. With 108bhp and 175Nm it is sure to get the enthusiast’s pulse racing. But the Taigun will go one step further too, and get the same engine as the T-Roc. The 1.5-litre TSI that produces 148bhp and 250Nm, far more than anything in the class — or even a class above. The ACT that the 1.5-litre TSI will boast of will add another quality to the VW. It could very well be among the most fuel-efficient petrol cars in the price range, even though it might be the most powerful.
Is it the era of the turbo-petrol? Volkswagen certainly believes so. There's a TSI for everyone, be it in capacity, or in the size of the SUV. And there's nothing like combining the performance of TSI with Volkswagen's undeniable strengths like build quality and dynamics. The Allspace has impressed. And the Taigun is certain to do the same.