Volkswagen SUVWs: Family DNA between the Tiguan and Taigun
"One last take. Pucca,” says the Ed to our filmmaker Sachin as he rattles off another PTC – piece to camera – in film-making speak. We couldn’t ask for a better setting to shoot the Volkswagen Tiguan, the air was nippy and the light is perfect. But Sachin’s patience is at an ebb as the Ed keeps referring to the Tiguan as the Taigun, a fact which isn’t helped by the presence of our curcuma yellow long-termer present behind the scenes. I understand his plight. Right from the time when images of the Taigun surfaced, you could not help but notice that it looked like a spitting image of the much-larger Tiguan. Even their names sound similar! Of course there is no outright way to compare these two SUVWs, being positioned to go up against different rivals in different segments altogether. Yet a thread of familiarity continues to run between the two – like father and son perhaps?
Design of the Volkswagen SUVWs
It is evident that both these Volkswagens continue to share the same styling DNA but the Taigun and Tiguan take two different approaches when it comes to design. The Taigun is clearly the one that turns more heads. It looks funkier and more youthful but it continues to possess those solid lines which befit a Volkswagen SUV. Peer closely at the front apron and you will notice that the headlamps and the chrome grille are a dead-ringer to those on the older Tiguans. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, considering that Pune’s errant bikers eagerly get out of the way at the sight of an imposing SUV. In fact, the flashy yellow colour of our long-term test car has grown on me so much that a Taigun in any other colour looks a bit too plain. SUVs these days need to get noticed in traffic and the Taigun nails that brief perfectly, more so with the 17-inchers and additional chrome present on this one, the GT Plus. And the perfectly-sized dimensions mean that you’re not unnerved by the thought of piloting the Taigun in city traffic, nor do you have to hunt for a decent-sized parking spot as much.
The Tiguan on the other hand feels much more business-like. The conventional SUV proportions would look perfectly at home in the parking bay at your workplace and there’s a good amount of chrome on offer to liven things up. The Tiguan recently got a facelift featuring revised headlights and a wider grille to amp up the bling and it looks even better than the car it replaces. As you move towards the rear, you also notice the updated light signatures on the LED tail lamps. And while bits like the Infinity LED light-bar on the Taigun are sure to find takers amongst the younger folk, the Tiguan appeals to a wider audience. It feels more refined, genteel even, to look at. But there’s no doubt that the family ties between these two Volkswagens remain strong as ever. In fact, if you saw either of these from a distance, it would be hard to discern as to whether it is a Tiguan or a Taigun that’s coming your way. Great if you’re a Taigun owner. Not so much if you’re a motor noter trying to wrap up their PTCs.
Inside the cabin
Step inside either of these SUVs and it is a similar story. Both the Taigun and the Tiguan feature an identical interior layout complete with the use of high-quality materials. There are only a few major differentiators between two, and one of them is the contrast coloured strip which runs across the dashboard in the Taigun. The Taigun also gets a 10.1-inch infotainment screen which is positioned higher up in your line of sight, featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, something that we have come to love very much. There’s also a sunroof, along with red ambient lighting which really livens up the cabin when driving after dark. The Taigun’s rear seats are comfortable when compared to rivals but the Tiguan does plenty to up the game there. Most Tiguans are likely to be chauffeur driven and the rear seat is a lovely place to spend long distances in. And if you are the type who likes to drive themselves, the front seats of the Tiguan are beautifully-bolstered and supportive.
The digital cockpit is very easy to read as well, and the Tiguan even gets 30 shades of ambient lighting to choose from, perfect for a night out on the town. At this point, you would have expected starker differences between the Tiguan’s interior and the Taigun’s, but the fact is that they’re closer than you think. There are of course certain differences in the equipment levels, but should you buy a Taigun over a Tiguan, you won’t be feeling shortchanged. Far from it. Those earlier days when only expensive cars would come with plush appointed interiors are long gone, with the Taigun continuing to feel much more expensive than its rivals.
Having driven the Taigun extensively, I can also attest to the fact that it's a lovely performer. The 1.5 TSI actually feels rewarding when driven hard, and when coupled with the superb dynamics of the MQB-A0-IN platform, there’s no question as to why we refer to the Taigun as the Thrill of Driving benchmark in its segment. A drive to Aamby Valley meant that I could really hotfoot the Taigun up the hills and exercise all of the 148 horses on offer. Of course all that #FullSend action meant a drastic increase in the fuel consumption figures. But once I settled into a nice highway cruise for the drive back to Pune, the Taigun posted impressive fuel efficiency figures, thanks to the cylinder deactivation system which shuts down two cylinders when the engine is not under heavy loads. Which brings us to the Tiguan. Now we’ve done plenty of cross-country road trips with the older Tiguan, including a drive to snowclad Shingo La in the Himalayas in our long-term test car.
However, the newer Tiguan has traded its TDI diesel engine in favour of TSI power. The result? The Tiguan is now a fantastic performer. While the TDI was an extremely frugal engine, the current 2-litre TSI is all about enthusing the enthusiast. The Tiguan accelerates hard, it goes around corners with aplomb and the ride is typically Volkswagen, inspiring greater confidence as the speeds climb up. These are two SUVs that you would buy for celebrating the Thrill of Driving.
Which brings me to a crucial point. Despite the fact that the Tiguan and the Taigun sit in different segments, they continue to be tethered by the familial DNA that is present across Volkswagen SUVs. Both of them are great fun to drive and feature well appointed cabins. And while the Taigun toes the line of expressiveness and youthful design, the Tiguan takes the gentleman’s approach to the same objective. You have to remember that it was the success of SUVs like the Tiguan which paved the way for Volkswagen’s newer offerings like the Taigun in the first place, and in that sense, the latter lives up to the standards set of its elders with ease – just like an eager young gun in the clan, raring to join the family business.