ANYONE convinced compact SUVs lack character and appeal should check out the new VW Taigo with its dynamic coupe-like styling - they will soon change their opinion.
Sitting snugly between the T-Cross and T-Roc in VW's crossover SUV line-up, the Taigo is available in trim levels calledLife, Style and R-Line and buyers can choose from a number of engine and gearbox configurations.
We opted for the Taigo R-Line powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. With 110ps and 200Nm it could reach 62mph from a standing start in 10.4 seconds and topped out at 119mph while delivering a combined 51.4mpg with 125g/km of carbon emissions.
It was priced at£27,565 (£32,135 with options) and certainly gained plenty of admiring glances with its dynamic, athletic design with sloping roofline, full width rear light bar, wheel arch coverings, panoramic sunroof, black roof and mirror caps, tinted rear windows, LED Matrix headlights and 18-inch Misano alloys.
Moving inside, the interior is upmarket and minimalist in its design and layout. The sports seats can be heated to fend off the winter chill and creature comforts are plentiful, with the likes of an 8.0-inch infotainment system offering access to the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a sat nav system, DAB radio and full climate control.
Once again there is lots of R-Line badging plus a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a neat 10.25-inch driver information screen displaying all the vital driving data. Four USB-C charging ports will help keep occupants fully connected on the move.
When it comes to performance, the front-wheel drive Taigo offers sharp acceleration through the six-speed manual gearbox making it easy to overtake slower moving vehicles.
On twisting B roads, it is well balanced with good grip and efficient suspension to smooth out any unexpected dips. The quite light steering is perfect for lots of tight twists and turns in city centres, but not quite so rewarding on testing lanes where a little more weight would be appreciated.
Drive modes called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual alter the characteristics and reactions of the car, but generally Comfort is just fine for day-to-day driving.
The Taigo can reach and cruise at 70mph on motorways with very little road surface or engine noise filtering into the cabin. And it's nice and agile in busy city centres with decent enough driver visibility.
Space within the Taigo impresses especially up front where a couple of six footers can stretch out. There is enough room in the back for another two adults or a trio of youngsters, and Isofix fixtures on the outer rear seats makes fitting a child seat an easy task.
The boot has an adjustable floor for convenience and can swallow 440 litres of kit measured to the parcel shelf. Drop the 60:40 split-folding rear seats flat and that capacity increases to a very generous 1,222 litres with convenient hooks to help stop shopping bags rolling around.
Additional storage options throughout the cabin include a glovebox, door bins with room for a bottle, trays, quite small front cup holders, a compact central cubby, a sunglasses compartment, seat back pockets, plus a hidden compartment beneath the front seats.
The Taigo was awarded a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and boasts the likes of front assist and city emergency braking system, lane keep assist, traffic jam assist, park assist, hill hold, automatic post collision braking and lots more besides.