As Indians we have a lot of unique things about us. Be it our food habits, culture or diversity across the nation to name a few. Unsurprisingly, our car market is pretty unique too and the biggest example of this are the sub 4-metre sedans on our roads. The status symbol that a sedan is, we prefer a three-box saloon even if it isn’t as spacious as an equally priced hatchback! Now that’s something that isn’t going to change for a while – perhaps why Volkswagen decided to develop a car specifically for the Indian car market, the Ameo. Check for Ameo price in Mumbai
It’s exactly a year since Volkswagen confirmed plans of launching a sub 4-metre sedan developed specially for India, and we got to see the car first a day prior to the 2016 Auto Expo. And then came the pricing, along with the elaborate feature list which we’re sure has got other players thinking. We’ve finally spent a day driving the car, so here’s what it feels like in reality.
The Ameo carries forward the timeless design language of Volkswagen successfully. The vehicle resembles the Polo and Vento from the front while the side (up to the C-pillar) will remind you of the Polo although changes have been made to the front fenders. The boot has been neatly integrated but the requirement of tucking under 4-metres in length does make the car look a bit awkward from certain angles. Still, this is one of the better looking compact sedans and the boot job doesn’t look like an after-thought. The only way to identify the diesel version from the petrol is the TDI badging on the boot. Find best offers on Ameo
On the inside, the Ameo is offering high quality interiors. The fit and finish on the inside is good and even the look and feel of the materials. The cabin feels a bit outdated in design. In terms of features, it gets most of it. There is a touchscreen system, reverse parking camera, Apple Car Play and a lot more features. Dual airbags and ABS is a standard feature across all variants.
The front seats are large and comfortable too. The second row gets tight on knee room and this is a drawback considering most of the competition. Tall people might not be very comfortable at the rear. For this reason, the Ameo is a good option to buy for those who drive themselves. There is a rear AC vent in the Ameo and a bottle holder as well. The boot isn’t the largest, but the rear seats fold and this is a unique feature for a compact sedan.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
After the disappointment of VW’s anaemic 1.2 MPI petrol engine in the Ameo, we knew it could only be uphill from there. But this latest version of the 1.5 TDI diesel is just plain impressive. Sure, it’s a little noisy at start-up and at higher revs, but the car is quite well insulated and it’s something you can get used to. With 110hp and 250Nm, it’s a wee bit more powerful than the old version of this motor, thanks to a new, larger turbocharger. There’s no way to do an ‘apples to apples’ comparison with the old motor just yet, but we can tell you that in the Ameo, the new one feels supremely punchy and powerful.
Release the slightly firm clutch pedal in the five-speed manual Ameo TDI and it will jump off the line eagerly, the short first gear prompting you flick the light gear lever down into second shortly after. There is a noticeable surge of power at around 2000rpm but there on, there’s seemingly no let up right till 5000rpm. And since the powerband is relatively short even by diesel standards, you charge through it rather quickly. It’s even got a decent top end. And, because the gear ratios have been smartly chosen, there’s little in the way of perceptible lag too.
In fact, it’s when you drive the DSG automatic that you’ll feel the lag a bit more. Because it’s been designed to slur its way through the lower gears for a smoother take-off, you feel more of that sub-1,800rpm sluggishness from the motor. There is, of course, less of this when you tap the lever down to Sport mode and you can eliminate it altogether by selecting gears manually (again via the lever; there are no paddles), but ultimately, it’s the manual that is more fun to drive.
The DSG is superb at being an automatic though. It’s smooth, clever and quick and makes matters so much more convenient in traffic. It’s hugely better than the AMT gearboxes you get in the Maruti Dzire and Tata Zest, but that does come at a premium.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Don’t let the sporty looking flat-bottom steering wheel fool you. The Ameo is a compact sedan, after all, and it handles exactly like it’s supposed to. Like all other cars in its class, the Ameo’s suspension set up has been oriented towards comfort. That said, it has got the second best balance between ride and handling, after the Honda Amaze. The steering on the Ameo feels vague around the straight-ahead position and is slow to turn in. It’s initially light but becomes gradually heavier as more lock is applied. All in all, it lacks the consistency in feel that’s to be found in rivals like the Ford Figo Aspire.
The production-spec Ameo rides on 15-inch wheels as opposed to the bigger 16-inchers seen on the show car at the Auto Expo. Nevertheless, the Ameo’s ride quality is quite good – we sampled it across both pothole-ridden city streets and wide open tarmac on the highway. It deals with undulated surfaces rather well despite transmitting some sharp bumps from on the road into the cabin. So what’s not to like in terms of dynamics? Well, the Ameo, like all other compact sedans, has that inherent floatiness to its high speed ride. One has to make constant steering corrections to keep the thing true to its line.
The Ameo TDI’s ride quality is very similar to the petrol version and the Polo’s. The car remains planted and settled even at high speeds. This is the compact sedan you’ll feel confident in while doing over 160kmph. The Ameo does feel like it crashes into pot holes, we faced quite a few on Mumbai’s roads it being the post-monsoon season, but the car still stays the line.
VW has gone for a couple of basic safety features, so, ABS and dual airbags are standard across variants. The DSG variants get ESP and hill hold control too. Some of the top-end variants of the Ameo TDI also get a few segment first features, including cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and static cornering lights. There are three trim levels for the manual and two for the automatic transmission versions. The Ameo TDI is the most impressive diesel compact sedan out there now.