Comparison: Volkswagen Taigun vs Skoda Kushaq

From a drivers vantage point, I would say, I prefer the interiors of the Kushaq Style trim over the equivalent Topline trim of the Taigun.

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Had a detailed look at both the Taigun and the Kushaq. Although I had seen both the cars briefly in fly-by visits to the dealership in the early days of launch, I wanted to have an in-depth look, after reading pages and pages of complaints about the interiors of these cars on this forum. So decided to spend 20 minutes each with the Taigun and the Kushaq today. Being a Sunday, showrooms were not crowded especially given all the rains here. A friend is interested in picking one of them and was looking for some reassurance about the interiors.

I started by dropping into the nearby Volkswagen showroom and the first one I saw was a GT 1.5 TSI manual in Wild Cherry color was on display. In one word, Wow! This car is a looker from the outside, especially this shade. Someone uninitiated about our car market would probably guess this car belongs to the 25 - 30 lakh segment, just looking at it from the outside. (This particular variant retails at 14.99 ex-showroom).

What came as a bit of a let-down was that the headlights were actually halogen and not LED not were there LED DRLs. It felt like VW had intentionally omitted important features in this trim to make sure it does not cannibalize the Topline 1.0 MT which is only 50K cheaper. With a much more powerful imported engine with ACT, the GT Manual is exceptional value in my eyes, had they not dropped the LED headlights, cruise control and a few other key features.

Lifting the bonnet up, it appeared to have medium heft - heavier than the Marutis and previous generation Hyundais, about as heavy as the Creta/Seltos but significantly lighter than the Compass/Harrier and even my 2020 Thar. The 1.5 TSI engine fits snugly into the bay, leaving very little open space. This GT manual trim had 16 inch alloys that looked fairly well sized for the car and the alloy pattern was a classic, good-looking one. The doors are of medium build and weight and the "Thunk" is certainly missing although they shot firmly and precisely with a healthy sound. I checked both the front door and the back door, and to me, there did not appear to be significant difference in their weight and heft (My Ecosport which had very heavy front doors but really light rear doors).

As soon as I entered the car, I was welcomed by the nice new car smell that is getting rarer to find these days among some new cars in the market. Mahindra cars, for example, definitely do not have this welcoming nice smell, and instead smell more like tyres/rubber.

I must say the red interior trim is an absolute eyesore. Even on the red car it looked jarring, imagine it is also present on the GT manual grey and silver where it would look absolutely out of place. The only external colors that are spared the ghastly red treatment in the GT Manual are the yellow and white. I really hope VW realizes this quickly and makes them an option/add-on.

There is a small amount of padding on the doors, which I suspect will not be sufficient on long journeys to rest the elbow comfortably. The centre arm rest is ergonomically perfect (although has sub-standard finish) - it has a fairly long range of adjustment and set up the perfect height. Overall, the seats were very comfortable and sufficiently firm to ensure that long journeys do not turn into pains in the back. There are hard plastics everywhere, however I did not feel them to be distracting or look cheap. On the other hand, on the Kushaq, the top of the dashboard had a kind of grains that drew attention to the shiny and hard nature of surface. The seat fabric on the Tiguan GT was par for the course - IMO, it did not appear rough or badly stitched by any means. The Highline 1.0 trim I saw later had worse cloth fabrics though.

The touchscreen ICS absolutely dominates the front dashboard - very well placed and the display quality was really crisp well . I found the old fashioned, basic speed dials on the GT Manual to be a real disappointment. Hi VW, after all, this is a GT - a driver's car. The owner is going to be looking at the speed and RPM, a lot more than owners of the Dynamic Line cars. At least, give us a hooded high quality dials that the previous generation Jetta or Yeti used to have!

There have been a lot of complaints about the roof liner - Yes it is not very well finished but IMO, it did not appear as shocking as some others pointed out. Maybe I notice roof liners less than the average car buyer does! Would I call it a beautifully finished roof ? Absolutely not. Would I call it distractingly poor quality that would bother me every time I get into the car? I wouldn’t say so.

One disappointing thing though is that even the GT manual trim does not get a sunglass holder on the roof. (The Kushaq Ambition does, BTW). I now popped into the back and the space is absolutely enormous - it is easily the best in segment in terms of legroom and kneeroom and possibly headroom as well. The centre armrest is at a perfect height and is quite broad. I would say the rear passenger comfort level probably the best in segment for two passengers. Completely agree with others about the backseat not being wide enough for three, but I would much rather seat two in comfort 100% of the time than permanently compromise on their comfort, just because somebody might use a middle seat 10% of the time. The 60:40 split folding rear seats tumble to provide an enormous amount of cargo room - it should be easily possible to squeeze in a bicycle here.

Driver seat ergonomics are spot-on and the seat adjustments available made it possible for me to find a very comfortable driving position very quickly. Visibility is excellent and the steering is an absolute delight to hold - small and chunky with a nice flat bottom. The clutch a soft however I was really surprised at the amount of travel required. Even for me who ears size 11.5 shoes, it was not possible to operate this clutch with the bottom of my heel resting on the floor or only slightly raised, like I used to do on my Ecosport TDCI. I had to take my foot completely off the floor, raise it and then depress the clutch. The gear shifts were very positive and precise, however, the throws are a tad longer than what I would expect. The Polo is the absolute benchmark here - the gear throws on that car were so short and the feedback so positive, I would shift gears juts for the fun of shifting.

What is absolutely inexcusable is that VW has not provided cruise control on its top GT trim in the manual version. The car cost a full 15 lakhs ex-showroom and close to 19 lakhs on road. The typical buyer is going to buy this trim for the pleasure of driving and for covering long distances on highways and cruise control is an absolute necessity under those conditions. I have found this feature to be hugely relaxing and strain-reducing, because it allows you to take your foot of the pedal, flex your right feet and give it some rest.

I then had a look at some other colors - The yellow looks absolutely stunning as well. If I were buying the GT manual, I would find it hard to choose between yellow and red had it not been for the red interior bits on the latter. The yellow GT has dark grey bits in place of the red bits that blend nicely with the rest of the elements and reassure you once again that you are in a VW car. The display car had accessories demonstrating how one could carry a bike on top of the car, but honestly, I would hesitate to mount my bicycle this way, given the level of air resistance that’s likely to cause. I always prefer to mount the bike sideways at the rear of the car. The top end variant in white was next up, and it does have very nice diamond cut alloy wheels, elevating the level of sophistication of the car. The amount of chrome was a tad too much on this one in my view.

I then hopped over to the Skoda showroom next, to have a look at the Kushaq. From the front, the car looks imposing (as compared to the Taigun which looked more sharp and handsome than imposing). It could easily be mistaken for a Karoq or even a Kodiaq from a distance. The level of heft of the bonnet and doors appeared to be similar tot he Taigun (naturally). The interior of the top end Style trim looked really amazing, the material and the stitching on the seats were fine, and the steering wheel absolutely dazzling, with a two-spoke design and chrome bits that are peppered over it. From a drivers vantage point, I would say, I prefer the interiors of the Kushaq Style trim over the equivalent Topline trim of the Taigun. However, if you are shopping for the Ambition trim, there’s a fatal flaw - the interior quality takes a nosedive in the Ambition mainly because of the cloth used - it is worse than what you would see on the sofas of a low-end tea shop. Even on a new car, they looked pathetic and they could be quite uncomfortable, given how rough the surface is, especially if you are wearing shorts and your skin is in contact with the seats. Sitting in the backseat of the top-end style trim of the Kushaq, I was surprised to see a big zipper running down the side of the front seat. It looked completely after-market, I generally don’t see the factory fitted seats with such visible zippers. This means one could probably easily buy the same seat cover and put that on top of the ambition trim and you now have a much nicer interior. The big advantage that the Kushaq offers in the Ambition (middle) trim over the Taigun are the LED headlamps and cruise control. My recommendation to my friend is therefore going to be to go for the Kushaq Ambition with the seat covers from the Style trim - the SA confirmed these were readily available.

I then had a quick look at the new Octavia, tried pulling open the door of that car after you have been opening and closing the Taigun and the Kushaq's doors, and it seems like you’re suddenly trying to move a mountain! The doors are so heavy ! The interiors of the car are far improved over the previous generation and look close to the German flagship benchmarks. However what I found very disappointing with the Octavia is the interior space, especially in the backseat, is nowhere as previous generation car that I had been in numerous times as it used to run as the default taxi all over Europe. Headroom also seemed to have suddenly fallen short. They might have done this to differentiate the car from the Superb and maybe start positioning the Superb for the taxi segment. The virtual cockpit of the Octavia is a completely different class altogether when compared to the one on the top-end Tiguan - the resolution and clarity is several notches higher - the simplicity and elegance of this virtual cockpit is simply unmatched and M&M has literally copied it pat down in the XUV700.

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