A step in the right direction: 2024 Volkswagen Tharu 300 TSI DSG SEL – Review

Volkswagen Philippines has been what I would call ‘lost’ these past few years. While they’ve continued to sell multiple vehicles and introduced the T-Cross, they haven’t made any splashes locally for a brand as big as VW.

Last year brought a reshape of the brand, and new executives, bringing in a new direction. That leads us to the Volkswagen Tharu, the newest model launched just a few months ago. Brand executives say that the Tharu is a representation of where the brand wants to go locally, as an appetizer.

Volkswagen Tharu

2024 Volkswagen Tharu Exterior

From the outside, we can see that the Tharu represents the VW design language very well. I like how it updated the design rather than completely straying away, VW’s strong suit has always been nice clean lines, simple yet elegant curves, and eye-catching color schemes.

Volkswagen Tharu

I would say that the Tharu is handsome in an elegant stylish sort of way, not brutish at all. The top-of-the-line variant I had came with fantastically bright LED headlights, DRLs, taillights, and even an illuminated VW logo for the rear.

Volkswagen Tharu

Overall I found the Tharu to be a looker, something not normally found or even replicated in other models found in the market.

Volkswagen Tharu


The interior is a wonderfully appointed place to be in, I appreciated the light blue and white colorway for the seats. The top version I had had full leather seats, and a huge panoramic sunroof. Tech-wise the Tharu comes with 2 decently sized digital screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment that (only) has Apple Carplay.

Volkswagen Tharu

What I appreciated most about the interior is the build quality. Compared to the older Volkswagen products the Tharu felt miles more solid and sturdy, something worthy of the VW badge. It was also nice to feel the premium touch one would be expecting from a vehicle in this price range.

Volkswagen Tharu

It also came with a few convenience features in the form of the haptic touch buttons on the steering wheel, which I have something to say about later on.

Volkswagen Tharu

Performance and Safety

Powering the Tharu is a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that makes 160 PS and 250 Nm of torque. Shifting is done via a VW specialty 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Apart from the standard safety features like airbags, ABS, and ESP; the Tharu only adds an intelligent parking assist, around view camera, and a few other features. Yes, the Tharu does not come with any ADAS features, apart from normal cruise control.

Volkswagen Tharu

Driving Impressions

This is where the Tharu really comes into its own, out on the road. When it comes to vehicle dynamics I would say it’s hard to beat Volkswagen, they do fun normal cars so well, and that DNA is back in the Tharu having been lost in the other models being sold here by the brand.

I took the Tharu to Baguio during the Holy Week rush for a true pressure test of the vehicle. We left at 5:30 am and already the Tharu showed itself a comfortable city cruiser, it didn’t jolt or shock me and the occupants awake, and the comfort of the ride and the muted NVH levels kept the drive peaceful and relaxing.

We breezed through the city and made our way on to NLEX for the slogfest of holiday traffic. Since we were very early we didn’t experience stop-and-go traffic but the pace from Balintawak all the way to SCETX was around 60-70 kph, slow but steady. We continued on until TPLEX where the traffic eased up and the Volkswagen nature of the Tharu showed.

I picked up the pace on TPLEX since we were in a convoy, the 160 PS was more than enough even in eco mode to propel the Tharu with purpose. I noticed how brisk the Tharu was but how it remained so quiet and refined throughout, but what the Tharu had under its sleeve was the ability it had to keep itself in check, let me explain.

Volkswagen Tharu

Other vehicles have the capability to be fast, but the Tharu was also good at having good control of its body, ride, and overall feel. Even when pushing this tall crossover up the mountain roads heading up to Baguio the Tharu did a decent job of mimicking a VW Golf. It was dynamic and eager, I was very confident pushing it and doing some daring inclined overtakes.

Plus the dual-clutch really showed up when in manual mode, it was very responsive and predictable like the other driving dynamics.

I also want to talk about fuel economy, Volkswagen has the Blue Motion engine technology that’s supposed to aid in efficiency. The Tharu only has a 43-liter fuel tank capacity, which isn’t big by crossover standards given the weight and load the 1.5-liter engine has to deal with. Yet, I was able to go up and down Baguio, do some driving inside Baguio, more driving in Manila ON JUST ONE TANK OF FUEL.

Even if I drove dynamically and with a lot of idling time due to Baguio traffic, the Tharu sipped fuel like a champion. Amazingly before returning the vehicle the trip computer said I still had 140 kilometers of range left.

It’s probably the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid engine I’ve ever driven and that’s saying a lot.

Volkswagen Tharu

Points for Improvement

I wish it was perfect but it isn’t, for the price the lack of ADAS is glaring and somewhat a deal breaker. Not that I’m reliant on ADAS features but almost all vehicles in the Tharu’s segment come with said features for much less cost.

I also lamented the lack of Android Auto which most cars made in China already come with nowadays, and lastly, the price itself needs improvement.

Volkswagen Tharu

Price and Verdict

The top-spec Volkswagen Tharu I had retails for PHP 1,945,000 which is a truly astronomical price for what you get. Consider that the Tharu has competitors that are better equipped for around 150-300 thousand pesos less.

Here is where it gets very tricky for me, I honestly really really liked the Tharu, it feels like a Volkswagen should. Even if it’s made in China it feels like it came from Germany, plus the fact that it drives amazingly for a crossover and is one of the most fuel-efficient non-hybrids out there.

The price though is such a deal breaker, I can’t imagine forking over that much money for something that’s just good to drive. So many factors come into play now for car buyers and the Tharu just doesn’t have enough going for it to command the pie in the sky pricing.

It’s a big step in the right direction for Volkswagen Philippines, but the pricing wastes what is a fantastic vehicle overall.


Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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