Volkswagen has been present in India since a few years now but it was just this year that they launched a made for India product with the Ameo. Within no time, the Ameo became Volkswagen’s best selling car in India, with its sales being more than all other VW cars combined. This was only with a petrol version on sale and now the Ameo’s popularity is set to increase further as the diesel model has been launched, available with both manual and DSG automatic transmission. We drive the car from Mumbai to Nashik and back to analyse how the updated diesel motor fares in the compact German sedan.
The Ameo is the first Volkswagen car tailor made for India and it competes in a segment where there is a lot of demand, hence pricing and value proposition remain important.
DESIGN AND STYLING ;
From the front the Volkswagen Ameo looks identical to the Polo. The bumper’s length has been reduced by 35mm to make space for the boot. Upto the C-pillar things remain the same. Then comes a new boot. From the rear, the Ameo looks more like the Skoda Rapid. The German automaker is looking at enhancing its reach with this new compact sedan. The wheelbase is the same as the Polo and there is no other difference, expect for a new boot and different colour options.
The superbly appointed interior is back too, with VW’s typically restrained-looking dashboard and exceptional fit and finish. The long equipment list on this Highline trim returns, replete with a touchscreen, rear-view camera, automatic wipers, cornering lamps, cruise control, two airbags and ABS. In fact, those last two safety features are standard across the range. The DSG auto version additionally gets ESC and a hill hold function. Finally, the rear seat – it isn’t the most spacious, especially on knee room, but if your use is only occasional, it might be good enough.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The new Ameo TDI is offered with the same 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine as is the Polo and Vento. Only difference is in the larger turbocharger which has enabled the engine to deliver a tuned-up 81kW or about 110PS of peak power and a peak torque of 250Nm – that is quite impressive for a small car that weighs just over 1,150kgs. With the idling engine rpm level being about 800rpm and the redline starting at about 5,200rpm, the delivery of power and torque is perfectly tuned within the mid-range for power, and low-rpm range for torque. Peak torque kicks in as early as 1,500rpm and turbo-lag is quite minimal. The result is an eager performer for a car in the CS segment. The Ameo’s gear ratios have been spaced just right and from when you slip into first gear, there is enough room to work the gearbox through either a passive city driving cycle or an aggressive mix of cruising and over-taking on the highway.
While idling and when you are outside the Ameo, this four-cylinder still has the trademark diesel clatter, but step into the cabin and the good insulation package manages to cut out a lot of the noise. You can still hear the engine at cold start and at high revs. The manual gearbox is a clean shifting 5-speeder and can easily be your choice especially with so much low-end torque available to exploit. The 7-speed, dual clutch DSG automatic is another USP altogether in the Ameo. With so many buyers now preferring automatics, it is a good call to go with the DSG. But then this is not just another auto transmission, this is VW’s popular dual clutch gearbox. Shifts are quick and the gearbox is equally adept at offering shifts for economical, slow-paced driving as it is for aggressive, dynamic driving. You don’t get steering mounted paddles, though manual gear selection with the stick is possible. There is a sports mode too.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The ride on the Ameo is on the stiffer side and the setup is able to absorb most bumps and imperfections without sending much back into the cabin. However, when you do hit a really deep pothole or bad imperfection the audibility of the suspension taking a beating is quite loud in the cabin. The slightly stiffer suspension setup provides decent stability at high speeds though the car tends to get flighty when encountering undulations at high speed and there is body roll when you go through the corners. However, one thing that Volkswagen has managed get right is the steering. It is precise, weighs up correctly and is an excellent tool for the ‘point and shoot’ style of driving.
The Ameo on the whole is a pretty nice car, especially when you consider the equipment you get for the money you pay along with the fact that it is a Volkswagen, and is thus a very well-engineered car. Volkswagen has learnt from its previous mistakes and is offering a bucket load features this time which adds to the Ameo’s value for money quotient.
Build quality and quality of materials used is pretty good, which gives the Ameo a more premium feel. What’s more, it is a familiar looking car though that’s something which works in its favour but could also be a bit of a turn off for some. Not a deal breaker though, especially since it drives well, has a good balance of ride and handling, and of course the fact that this car has been made specifically for India. A little thing to be proud of, no?