This top-of-the-range version of the Volkswagen Taigo crossover coupé betrays a lot about the positioning of one of Wolfsburg’s newer model introductions. While the Ford Puma might sell on its sporty driving dynamics and the Vauxhall Mokka on its chiselled looks, the Taigo takes a more balanced approach at conjuring that extra dose of relative desirability that a car like this needs in order to stand out – and I'm not sure that it really manages it.
Like a lot of Volkswagens, this one doesn’t really catch your eye, but it has quite a full set of strengths underneath the rather understated styling. While it has a sloping roofline, the Taigo is hardly rakish or bold looking. It counters with more cabin and boot space than some pint-sized SUV imitators; with a smartly presented cabin; with a slightly broader range of engines than rivals; and with plenty of equipment, on-board technology and electronic active safety and convenience features for what’s still a fairly compact and affordable car.
And so, if you like, you can have a Taigo with a 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine (which is a chunk more power than some rivals offer) and a two-pedal DSG automatic gearbox, as we’ve got it here. There’s R-Line trim, too (with its sportier-looking bumpers and seats, and boosted interior specification), although if you’d sooner forgo the sportier touches, there’s a Style trim at an equivalent level in the range, which can be had with the same engine.
On either, you get active LED matrix headlights as standard, as well as semi-autonomous parking via Park Assist, and a suite of active safety systems complete enough to beat some cars a couple of vehicle segments higher up the market. You can also add Volkswagen’s ‘SAE Level Two’ semi-autonomous Travel Assist option, via which this car will mostly drive itself along the motorway, through heavy congestion, across lane changes, and monitor and adjust its own speed according to posted limits. And that’s a pretty long list of gadgetry for a pumped-up supermini.
In range-topping form, the Taigo is a very grown-up compact car with a rounded character, and plenty of practicality. There’s a dose of SUV-typical ruggedness in its styling, but not so much as to attract your attention.
The car has a more gently sloping roofline at the rear than crossovers typically do, but not so much as to compromise second-row head room. The interior styling is smart and quite digitally sophisticated, but not overly colourful or extroverted. Some might say the Taigo lacks a bit of personality, or any one particular selling point; that its identity is a little wishy-washy, perhaps, and it doesn’t offer much beyond the remit of a fairly average compact modern hatchback. To others, though, the slightly raised seating position and enlarged boot that it brings no doubt will be valued.