Volkswagen had been talking for years about a compact SUV positioned below the Tiguan, all while fielding such models in other countries, and now it’s so close we can practically smell its new-car-scented interior. In fact, the automaker had even told us over a year ago what it would be likely called and how it would look. The reason for such openness is the fact that VW has been building this model overseas for a couple of years now, sold as the Tharu in China, and had talked about bringing it to the States for quite some time in an updated form.
If this sounds like something that Volkswagen could have really used around 2013, when the compact SUV segment was exploding in popularity, that’s because it’s something that Volkswagen could have really used around 2013 when the compact SUV segment was exploding in popularity. But better late than never.
Just how much smaller than a Tiguan will this new SUV be?
Taking the Tharu as a starting point, the new SUV is likely to be just under two inches shorter in height than the current Tiguan, but almost a foot shorter in length. While the dimensions aren’t likely to change much from the current Tharu, the recent teaser image above suggests that it will receive updated front and rear fascias, since the Tharu has already been on sale for a couple of years and will need a refresh by the time it goes on sale here, which will be next year as a 2021 or 2022 model. The SUV will be produced in Mexico for the U.S. market.
What engine might we see under the hood of this new SUV?
While it’s available with 1.2- and 1.4-liter inline-fours in China, the top version we’re likely to receive could be equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-four, available in the Tiguan and a few other offerings at the moment. But we would be glad to see an even smaller engine in a base version of the pocket SUV, in case VW is brave enough to offer an engine from the 1.4-liter Golf in this model. A two-engine lineup, with front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive, sounds just about right for this small SUV.
When it comes to what it could be called, Volkswagen had suggested in previous months that the compact SUV may be called the Tarek. And it actually filed a trademark for the name in the U.S. The Tarek name, for what it’s worth, has not been officially confirmed, so yet another name is possible — companies often trademark multiple names months before a reveal to allow themselves some room to maneuver if one particular name doesn’t sit well with some executive.
We’ll see the Tarek, if that is its real name, next month on October 13, ahead of the start of sales in the second half of 2021 — VW first has to start actually building it in Mexico. We won’t know exact pricing for a while, but given the positioning of the larger Tiguan it’s likely to start in the low-$20,000 range.
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