IT’S BARELY THREE MONTHS SINCE ASHISH Gupta took over the reins of Volkswagen India, a critical juncture in the brand’s Indian journey as they put final touches to the Taigun. Made for India, this mid-size SUV is critical to the fortunes of the Group, the first fruits of the 1 billion euro investment made into upgrading the manufacturing facilities, setting up an R&D centre and adapting the MQB-A0 platform for Indian tastes and requirements. “The Taigun’s success is critical for us,” says Ashish Gupta as we drive from Alibaug to Kashid on the Konkan coast for the first of many media events Volkswagen has lined up for the year.
“It is an integral part of our SUVW strategy, which is the base for our growth in the next five to ten years. By the response, I think it is going to do very well. I will not classify it according to sales numbers but I think it is the centrepiece for us.”
Ashish says that the Taigun will be positioned as a young and vibrant car, reflecting Volkswagen’s new corporate image. “People who are young at heart, who would like to do new things in life, that’s our target. It is for people who like new opportunities and challenges.”
Of course the mid-size SUV segment is hardly lacking in rivals and Ashish is keen to point out the Taigun’s three USPs, “Safety, drivability and dynamics.” And of course pricing will be key. “The unique marriage of the price point without compromising the USPs of VW is a great selling point. And we are very clear that there will be no compromise in safety. The basic DNA is intact. The Taigun also has world-class TSI technology, the latest features and the unique VW customer experience which we call Sarvottam 2.0. We don’t just sell a car, we sell an experience so that customers see not just the product, but also the ecosystem she/he is getting into.”
On the production Taigun, Ashish says that it will be “pretty similar” to the concept shown at the Auto Expo. We probe him further on the five things he likes the most about the mid-size SUV. “The part I like the most is the digital cockpit. Second are the full-width taillamps, it looks fantastic. Third, the front skid plate looks very good and it gives a nice butch feel to the car. Fourth would be the body-coloured inserts on the dashboard which gives it a very unique personality.” And with a deep sense of pride in the brand and the teams that have been working on it he adds, “Fifth would be the VW logo!”
The Taigun will be available with the 1-litre TSI engine with both manual and automatic gearboxes, and the 1.5 TSI as well. I ask Ashish if that will be badged the GT. “Why not?,” says Ashish. “We will retain the Thrill of Sriving, Sirish!”
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