Replacing the Golf in US showrooms, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the new entry point for the brand if you want a small hatchback vehicle. Smaller than the popular Tiguan, the new Taos brings familiar style and driving character to a more petite package and comes with a lower price.

Our Taos SE FWD test vehicle was priced at $28,440 with no added options and included a number of key items including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting all around and an upgraded touchscreen infotainment system over the base S model.

Handsome enough, the Taos looks a lot like other models in the Volkswagen showroom but has a more stylistic approach in its facial features that comes across as both smart and upscale but not as bland as previous VW’s have been.

Some 7-inches shorter in wheelbase and 11-inches shorter in length than the three-row Volkswagen Tiguan, it provides a tidier and more manageable size for those whom might live in denser urban areas with tight parking.

Powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission in the FWD model we tested it has 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. If you option AWD, you get a different 7-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Performance was sporting once we got moving with immediate sprints off the line held back by slow response from the engine management system. The engine however in traffic is quick to provide smooth bursts of power and the transmission is more refined than in previous VW models we’ve tested.

It is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined and has an idle start-stop system. In our week with it we achieved 27 mpg combined, quite a bit below the EPA estimates but we did opt to defeat the start-stop system as it is annoying as can be.

Handling is a bright spot as expected with Volkswagen. The more svelte variation of the same MQB architecture that underpins the Tiguan provided a nimble and sport feel in both city and back road driving. Refinement from its suspension is impressive in spite of its low-tech cost saving twist beam rear suspension.

Road noise is at a minimum as was wind noise at speed. The ride is firm enough to give you that “German engineered” feel but compliant enough for city streets with all of their imperfections.

The cabin is smartly laid out in typical Volkswagen cockpit form. Materials typical for the brand too are mostly hard cheap plastic, but it’s very easy on the eyes with handsome blue accent trim spanning the dash and door panels.

Seats are a combination cloth and a rubbery material called Cloud Tex. It felt like a neoprene wetsuit but looks like suede. With the materials, the seats were very comfortable both front and rear but could be sweaty and sticky in hot weather.

With all of the versatility and space of an SUV, the Taos does provide good value like the old Golf always did though it looses the cool cachet the small hot-hatch always brought to the game. None the less, we expect Volkswagen will sell every one of them they can build.