Despite being one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, Volkswagen has completely changed its product line in a new direction. If it was lagging behind in terms of SUV options, the German brand’s offensive to create a really broad line is surprisingly. And the new Volkswagen Taos, an average SUV, is another novelty that will give work to competitors.
The Volkswagen Taos was created to occupy the space below the Tiguan AllSpace in several markets, such as Brazil and the United States. Thus, Volkswagen will have a competitor at the Jeep Compass level and the future Toyota Corolla Cross for our market, and models such as Nissan Rogue Sport, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Seltos in other countries.
And, like other Volkswagen models, the Taos has a lot in common with other cars of the brand – even produced in Puebla, Mexico, the Taos shares several components with its Chinese counterpart VW Tharu. Even so, together with the new electric crossover ID.4, it represents a new era for the development of Volkswagen vehicles. And we had a chance to see a little bit of that in a first contact with a Taos prototype.
Johan de Nysschen, head of operations for the Vokswagen Group, said that much of the brand’s future success lies in the development of regional models, aligned with the taste of each market. Soon, the days that a VW centralizing all decisions in its headquarters to command the whole world are over. Instead, the Wolfsburg office will do the company’s overall strategy, leaving the details to local representatives.
Taos uses the modular MQB platform, which equips several models of the VW Group around the world, in the original version MQB-A1 – here, this architecture is used in Jetta, Golf GTE and Tiguan AllSpace. The rigid structure identifies the crossover as a vehicle of German engineering, dressed in a regional style and with several modifications made from the opinion of consumers (in the body and interior mainly, said Nysschen). This means that Taos will have unique materials, instead of copying Chinese Tharu in global markets.
This is clear when you see the front of Taos. While the Tharu uses a design close to the Atlas / Terramont, the global version comes close to the identity adopted by the renewed Tiguan, with the grille and headlights forming a light “V”. The bumper also has another design. And expect a slightly different look for the model made in Argentina for our market, something anticipated by Pablo Di Si, president of VW Latin America. The brand released images of the camouflaged crossover and we can see a different bumper, changing the air intake on the sides and without the fog lights at the bottom.
For the American market, the Taos will have a novelty, being the first model in the region to adopt the 1.5 turbo instead of the 1.4 turbo. It is an evolution of the 1.4 TSI that made its global debut in restyling the seventh generation of Golf, receiving technologies in favor of efficiency and reduction of emissions, such as cylinders coated with material with low resistance to friction, while the injection controls the temperature cycles for reach the ideal work point as soon as possible.
The North American Taos 1.5 turbo engine runs on the Miller combustion cycle, which closes the intake valve early to help with efficiency. The most impressive thing is that the Taos will be the first car in that market to use a variable geometry turbo, which contributes to accelerations mainly at low revs, but without jeopardizing the responses in medium and high regimes. In short, there are 160 hp and 25.4 kgfm of torque which, despite being close to the 1.4 engine, mainly in peaks, have a better distribution of force.
Unfortunately, we will not see this engine here, as executives of the brand have said several times that the Argentine Taos will have the 1.4 turbo flex up to 150 hp, as we have in the T-Cross Highline, Jetta and the GTS versions of Polo and Virtus – after all , the engine is produced in São Carlos (SP), cheapening the vehicle and is already prepared to accept ethanol.
On the road
The improvement in the engine is something we notice as soon as we leave the parking lot. While other SUVs in this category penalize drivers with weak engines, the Taos seems to be stronger even at low speed, with a lot of torque in urban use. The strength of the 1.5 TSI does not disappoint even at higher revs. VW’s small turbo engine is extremely capable, catering for those looking for efficiency to those who want to accelerate a little more.
The front-wheel drive models will have an 8-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive versions will have an automated 7-speed dual-clutch transmission – which VW is still working on calibrating for the launch. The Taos produced in Argentina for Brazil will only have the automatic transmission of 6 gears and front-wheel drive, although there are rumors about a 2.0 TSI variant with all-wheel drive, which would be called Taos GTI.
In terms of driveability, the Taos promises a lot, but we can’t avoid a little worry when running on the pre-production prototype, which had some problems. When driving on the road at a higher speed, the Volkswagen is a little restless, with too light a steering, which required a little constant control. It is about 29 cm shorter than a Tiguan AllSpace, so the Taos can suffer a little from the worries of a short wheelbase model. But VW engineers will still have a few months to settle this until the launch in early 2021 – if they haven’t already fixed everything and are problems that remained in the prototype.
The interior is attractive and comfortable, with a sophisticated and spacious style, and with the digital instrument panel. Unfortunately, we cannot show it to you because it was not yet finished when we rode the prototype, so VW did not let us scour the cabin a lot (let alone take photos).
However, we can say that it is competitive in its category in materials and comfort. It uses soft touch materials on the door panels and armrests, which have a good texture and appearance. It was not possible to escape from the hard plastic, which can be found at the bottom of the console and the doors, for the sake of cutting costs so that it is below the Tiguan.
The brand already confirms some of the equipment. It will come with the new VW Play multimedia center with a 10 “screen, which was developed here in Brazil and made its debut on Nivus. It will also have adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detector, cross-traffic alert and brake of electronic parking, although the manufacturer has not yet said what will be standard and what will come only in the most expensive versions.
What to expect from Taos?
The Volkswagen Taos will be fully revealed on October 13, with a global presentation. The manufacturer promises that it will arrive at dealerships in the second quarter of 2021 here, as a model 2022. The factory in General Pacheco (Argentina) is finishing the pre-production period and the car has already started to be seen on the streets with less camouflage.
Prices are still a mystery, but it will be positioned above the T-Cross Highline and below the Tiguan. This means that it should be between R $ 130 thousand and R $ 150 thousand, as the T-Cross with 1.4 TSI engine costs R $ 122,390, while the Tiguan 250 TSI with five seats starts at R $ 145,430. Taos may even spend a little more than R $ 150 thousand, since the expectation is that Tiguan will lose the most basic version to focus on the 7-seat variants.