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Driving the Volkswagen Taigun 1.5L Turbo Petrol MT
1.5L turbo-petrol engine makes 148 BHP @ 5,000 - 6,000 rpm and 250 Nm @ 1,600 - 3,500 rpm:
While all variants of the Taigun come with an improved version of the
Polo's 1.0L, 3-cylinder TSI engine
, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (MQ200) and some have a 6-speed
torque-converter AT too
(AQ250), the top-end GT variants also get the 1.5L, 4-cylinder TSI engine, which was used in the T-Roc. It is matched to a 6-speed MT (MQ281) and a 7-speed DSG (DQ200). The engine produces 148 BHP & 250 Nm. This makes it more powerful than the Korean twins' 1.4L turbo-petrol (138 BHP & 242 Nm), but not the Duster 1.3L's 154 BHP & 254 Nm. There is no diesel engine on offer. It's very sad that VAG has decided not to make its brilliant 1.5L TDI BS6 compliant. Those with high usage will be disappointed, especially with petrol now costing over 100-bucks a litre! Internationally, the T-Cross is also available with a 1.6L TDI motor that produces 94 BHP and 250 Nm. Throttle response is satisfactory and the Taigun rolls off without a fuss. Once on the move, the 1.5 TSI provides good driveability. The motor can pull from as low as 1,000 rpm, although it's more comfortable above 1,200+ rpm and alive above 1,500. The bottom end is good, because of which, the car didn't even break a sweat climbing a gradual incline on the 4-lane highway in 6th gear at 60 km/h. Importantly, this engine pulls much better than the 1.0 TSI from low revs. At the end of the day, you can't argue with displacement and this is 50% bigger in size than its smaller sibling. Downshifts aren't required frequently. The light electric steering, compact size of the car, taller seating, good ergonomics and excellent frontal view make the Taigun superb to drive in the city. Out on the open road, the power on tap makes the 1.5 TSI a fast performer and a whole lot of fun. VW says it'll do 0 - 100 in 9.1 seconds on a good day and we totally buy that (Skoda claims a significantly quicker 8.6 seconds for the Kushaq!). However, it doesn't have that crazy streak of the 1.0L. While the smaller 1.0 TSI is wild and begs to be driven hard, the 1.5L is more mature with its power delivery. This 1.5 TSI employs a long stroke configuration compared to the near square nature of the 1.0 - think of the 1.5L as the grownup bigger brother to the mischievous brat 1.0 TSI. Even torque steer is extremely well-controlled for a 148 BHP FWD car. The 1.5L TSI is very tractable and pulls cleanly. Driving it on the highway is an addictive experience and you will find yourself driving fast, even if you didn't intend to. To overtake, just drop a gear and floor it...the strong mid-range will ensure you fly past the slower vehicle. The engine revs in a linear fashion till ~6,600 rpm. In terms of cruiseability, the Taigun can run at triple-digit speeds all day long without breaking into a sweat. The TSI spins at a relaxed ~2,000 rpm at 100 km/h in 6th gear, and just a notch below 2,500 rpm at 120 km/h. Beyond 5,000 rpm, however, the engine starts getting a bit boomy. Summary = this is overall a fast, smooth & lovable engine. Enthusiasts will relish the MQ281 6-speed MT. It is slick, with short throws and well-defined gates. The gears are closely stacked together (try shifting from 4th to 5th and you'll see). The clutch, though light, is quite springy and you need to carefully modulate it in stop-and-go traffic to avoid stalling the car. Its travel range is longer than we'd like too. This trait of the clutch gets irritating in bumper to bumper traffic.
Driving the Taigun 1.5L DSG Automatic
The 1.5L engine also comes with the fast & smooth, but notorious 7-speed DQ200 DSG gearbox:
I must say this - as fun as it was to drive the manual, the 1.5 DSG, to me, was the perfect engine-gearbox combination for the Taigun. Fast and effortless at any legal speed, the powertrain compliments the ride and handling characteristics of the car beautifully. The combo makes the Taigun an effortless cross-country mile-muncher, if fuel prices are not a concern
. Slot into D mode, take your foot off the brake pedal and the Taigun slowly creeps forward at ~5 km/h. This behaviour will be highly appreciated in city traffic conditions. It is quite unlike the 1.0 TSI AT (as per my experience with the Polo), which feels more aggressive. Drive with a light foot and the gearbox moves up the ratios pretty quickly. Impressively, you won't feel these shifts as the transition is very smooth. While the automatic transmission makes the Taigun very easy to drive in the city, when crawling in slow traffic (1st - 3rd gears), you will experience a little jerkiness, which is a typical DSG trait. Under harsh sunlight, the display on the gear selector isn't bright enough, but the virtual cockpit shows the mode as well as the exact gear engaged (in M, S and even D modes). In the city, the 1.5 motor's healthy bottom end helps you get around effortlessly. Throttle response is good and the Taigun moves smoothly. Add to that, the direct injection and turbocharger ensure that the engine isn't lethargic at any speed. There's always enough power on tap to accelerate or overtake quickly. Out on the highway is when things go from good to great! This is easily among the most fun-to-drive crossovers for 2 million bucks. You'll find yourself addicted to flooring the throttle whenever there's an empty stretch of road. Outright performance is excellent and the strong mid-range takes care of all the overtaking you need to do. The downshifts are quick (
not as fast as upshifts though
) and the gearbox responds well to throttle inputs. The 7th ratio gives the Taigun DSG long legs on the highway. And touring you must do - this car is built for long road-trips. In summary, the 1.5 TSI DSG is a jewel of a combination that will keep you happy at low revs & high, and in the city as well as on the highway. Other than its reliability woes, this is one of the best AT gearboxes sold in India. Tap the left paddle for a downshift and manual mode is engaged. The ECU blips the throttle to match the revs, and holds the gear till near the redline. This gets addictive, especially during overtakes! However, even in manual mode, the DSG will upshift above ~6,000 rpm and also downshift below ~1,000 rpm. We feel this is way too conservative - the MT revs to ~6600 rpm. Manual mode will also ignore wrong gear selections which put the engine out of the above rpm ranges. Long hold the paddles to revert back to auto mode. Cruising around in D mode, one won't even notice the gears being shifted. They are damn smooth. The kickdown response time is quick enough and you will never feel that the gearbox is hunting for gears either. It's in the right ratio almost all the time. When you are in the mood to drive the car aggressively, engage Sport mode. In S, the gearbox downshifts to keep the car in the power band, holds the ratios longer and lets the punchy midrange do all the heavy lifting required. Out on the open road, you will find it hard to resist the urge to go hard on the throttle. The Taigun is simply brilliant to drive! Cruise control works seamlessly with the automatic transmission. After slowing down from a 100 km/h cruise to stop at a toll booth, we hit 'resume' just after and the car
accelerated from around 10 km/h to the ton. On the flip side, we have scarily serious concerns over the DSG's long-term reliability. Just search on Team-BHP and you will see story after story of DQ200 failures & breakdowns. VW insists they have fixed the problem, but we aren't convinced at all. This gearbox has inherent design defects IMHO. Some BHPians who can't resist the DSG have mentally relegated themselves to 2 breakdowns over 8 - 10 years of ownership.
Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
The 1.5L TSI is overall refined. It's a lot smoother than the 1.0 TSI which has some 3-cylinder vibrations, noises, groans & growls. That said, even the 1.5L TSI gets somewhat boomy past 5,000 rpm. We found tyre & road noise at 110 - 120 km/h on concrete expressways / rumble strips to be higher than expected in a car with premium aspirations. On the other hand, wind noise is nicely controlled at expressway speeds.
Mileage & Fuel Economy
ARAI fuel economy figures for the Taigun have not yet been revealed. Drive the TSIs with a light foot and they should give you acceptable FE. Turbo-petrols are very sensitive to throttle input though; drive it hard and you'll see the tank needle drop fast. VW has given the 1.5L Taigun Active Cylinder Technology. When cruising calmly on the open road, the ECU shuts off cylinders 2 and 3 to reduce fuel consumption. This 2-cylinder mode will lead to good long distance FE, that is if you drive calmly (which is tough in the TSI). While the Taigun GT is generally too much fun to let you see the ACT getting engaged, it really shows up when cruising, especially with cruise control engaged. Setting cruise control at 80 km/h will see ACT engaged predominantly with excellent highway efficiency figures. But that's not all. Even on a long 120 km/h cruise, the cylinders get deactivated on flat ground and at the hint of the slightest slopes. Despite checking to the best of my abilities, I just could not pick up any change in noise or vibrations when the cylinders were engaged or disengaged. It's seamless. When the car is running on 2 cylinders, it's displayed in the instrument cluster:
Volkswagen officials mention that the suspension hardware, which is the same as the Kushaq, is tuned slightly differently in the Taigun. Although my drive experience with the Kushaq is not as extensive as with the Taigun, I feel that the difference (if any) isn't drastic, which is not a bad thing! In short, the setup is brilliant and will be loved by both, regular drivers and enthusiasts alike.
The Taigun's ride quality can be termed as mature & compliant. We have to say this is the perfect suspension tune that VW has chosen. It is neither too soft (Hector) nor too stiff (Seltos). Owners will find the ride quality to be endearing. It offers good comfort levels in the city, on broken village roads & on highways alike. For the most part, it does its job in silence, but sharp ruts do find their way into the cabin and that results in an occasional "clunk". This was more prominent in our automatic car with the 17" rims & 33 PSI tyre pressures (verified). The ride quality of the manual variant with the 16" rims was slightly better with lesser noise and a rounded off feel over the sharp stuff.
Handling & Dynamics
As expected of a VW, the Taigun has sorted road manners. It has excellent straight-line stability and composure at high speeds. In fact, 120 km/h feels more like 90 - 100 km/h. You can confidently maintain high speeds on the expressway. Driving the Taigun on winding roads was fun, with the front end seemingly eager to turn. Sure, there is body roll, but it's a family crossover at the end of the day. Nothing too alarming, and it takes high-speed expressway curves at cruising speeds without breaking a sweat. The tyres are the same Goodyears used on the Kushaq. Grip levels were fair. Although, for the enthusiast, we would still recommend upgrading to better rubber as these tyres were squealing under hard cornering @ 85 km/h!
The EPS feels direct & sharp. It is light at parking & city speeds which is now the market's preference. Our complaint is that, at 100 - 110 km/h, it is still a level too light and comfort-oriented for enthusiasts' tastes. We wish VW had firmed things up more for highway speeds. A user-selectable 'Sport' driving mode that stiffens things up would be nice.
While its main rivals, the Creta and Seltos, get all-wheel disc brakes, the Taigun makes do with discs at the front and drums at the rear. The brake pedal is well calibrated and feels sharp to use. In fact, we felt that the brakes of the Taigun were more confidence-inspiring than those of the Korean twins. The braking is powerful and we felt confident with them on our highway run.
Niggles & Problems
VW is generally known for expensive maintenance bills and the occasional major breakdown. Truth is, many owners have suffered multiple breakdowns, especially with the DQ200 DSG gearbox. Even apart from the gearbox, don't expect a Toyota or Maruti kind of ownership experience over 5 - 10 years. Take the extended warranty without a second thought, and be sure to get the car serviced on time. For its part, VW is trying to improve its brand image with the Sarvottam 2.0 initiative, and hopefully, there will be maintenance packages etc. announced during the launch, but the dealers are the same, the cars are complicated & the parts are expensive. Those buying the 1.5L MT or 1.0L AT (torque converter) / MT might enjoy better long-term reliability than owners of the 1.5L DSG. A fast and effortless mile-muncher:
There's no insulation sheet under the bonnet. The motor is generally refined, but more insulation might have helped reduce the boomy nature above 5,000 rpm:
No underbody protection is sad given our road conditions and VW's high repair costs:
Dual-tone horn sounds effective, but is not the wind tone type generally expected in a VAG car:
Last edited by GTO : 9th August 2021 at