Volkswagen showcases its first coupe-SUV, the Nivus
Sometime around 2008, BMW launched a wacky abomination called the X6. Few people were fond of the looks, but most wondered what BMW’s design team was sipping on at the time. Fast forward more than a decade and coupe-SUVs are all the rage — Porsche makes one, Lamborghini makes one, Audi makes multiple and more companies are joining in the party. However, while most of these have been more premium offerings the Volkswagen Nivus isn’t. It comes in at a similar price point as the T-Cross. For reference, In Volkswagen’s international lineup the T-Cross sits below the T-Roc which was recently launched in India. A funky looking, affordable coupe-SUV with all the technology you expect from Volkswagen, sounds like a perfect recipe, doesn’t it? For now, the Nivus is going to be restricted to South American markets with a Europe release planned for the second half of 2021.
Unlike some other coupe-SUVs, the Nivus is a pretty handsome looking car. The split grille at the front, slim headlights and aggressive lines give it a purposeful look. The Nivus’ roofline doesn’t drop sharply and coupled with the rear spoiler, even the side profile is a cohesive shape. The rear of the Nivus features a black bar which unites the taillights and also has the Volkswagen badge. A chrome strip runs across the bottom half to give it a bit of bling. The Nivus badge is centralised, below where the number plate sits and is flanked by a ‘200 TSI’ badge. It looks neat, the gloss black details and small sprinklings of chrome make the Nivus a premium looking crossover with a sporty edge.
The interior is typically Volkswagen — well thought out but a touch bland. There are two 10-inch screens on the inside, one acts as the digital instrument cluster and the other is the infotainment display. The Nivus debuts VW Play which allows users to download apps directly onto the car’s infotainment screen. The Cognitive Manual takes a largely unused booklet in cars and rethinks it for the 21st century. It utilises artificial intelligence to recognise various spoken commands for various situations and users will even be able to use an app to snap a picture of a dashboard warning light and the system can explain exactly what to do. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, with the former having wireless functionality too.
This is where things get interesting. The Nivus is powered by a 1-litre TSI engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Heard this combination before? Well, it is the same powertrain which powers the new Polo GT TSI in India. However, the Nivus is more powerful, with an output of 126bhp and 200Nm of torque. This is also the engine that will power the Taigun, which means the Nivus might not be too far fetched for Volkswagen to bring to India.
Overall, the Nivus is a very cool offering at an interesting price point. We do not know if the Nivus will come to India, it is unlikely in the near future as the Volkswagen pipeline seems pretty full already. While the engine and gearbox are already built in India, the Nivus is has been developed in South America and is based on the MQB-A0 platform for developing markets. The platform that underpins the Nivus is not too different from the MQB-A0-IN platform being made specifically for India. How much effort will that take to adapt it to this platform? We don’t quite know. Will it find homes in India? Surely, as an SUV loving country, anything that is slightly further off the ground than a hatchback sells.