While the Volkswagen Ameo petrol’s performance felt sluggish, the diesel is the other end of the spectrum. Our notes from the drive experience…
So far, Volkswagen has been selling products from its international portfolio in India. The German car maker unveiled its first made for India product, the Ameo, at the 2016 Auto Expo and followed it with the launch of its petrol iteration in June. As you’d expect from a car that sports the VW badge, the Ameo impressed us with its build quality, safety and comfortable ride. It had a surprisingly long list of features too. But at the same time the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol motor failed to impress and left us wanting for more. The diesel however was expected to be more energetic and now that it is finally here, it was time to get behind the wheel to find out if it has been worth the wait.
First things first, the diesel Ameo looks identical to its petrol sibling except for the TDI badge on the boot. Working in accordance with the sub-4 metre clause hasn’t quite been easy for the designers at Volkswagen and it shows. While the bonnet looks identical to the Polo it is shorter by 35mm to make space for the boot. Despite all efforts, the Ameo looks disproportionate especially the rear that ends rather abruptly. The interior and much of the features too are identical to the petrol Ameo.
With all other aspects constant, let’s get down to business. The diesel Ameo comes with an updated version of the same a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder unit from the other Volkswagen cars. In this state of tune, it delivers a best-in-class 108bhp of power and 250Nm of torque. The Ameo diesel has been launched with a 5-speed manual transmission as well as a 7-speed DSG gearbox.
Crank the engine and you will find it to be a bit noisy on the outside, however, Volkswagen has done well to ensure that a lot of this noise doesn’t enter the cabin. So far, the maximum power that Volkswagen has pulled out from this engine is 103bhp in the GT TDI and the Vento. By fitting a larger turbocharger, Volkswagen has managed to increase the power output on the Ameo to 108bhp, which is a remarkable 20bhp more than the standard Polo hatchback. The engine feels quick to get off the line and is amply punchy to make the drive fun. Although the peak power only comes around the 4,000rpm mark, the Ameo diesel has ample of low and mid-range torque to make it quick on its heels. That being said as you approach its red line, the engine tends to feel a bit strained and noisy. Yes, there is a bit of a turbolag too but on the manual variant it feels a lot more controlled than in the automatic.
Talking about the automatic option, the diesel Ameo comes fitted with the 7-speed DSG which ranks right up there among the slickest gearboxes in the market currently. Even in the ‘D’ mode, it is a lot smoother than some of the AMTs that are available in this class of cars, that being said, we would have liked it if the shifts were a bit faster. The car upshifts at around the 2,400rpm mark. While this works perfectly when driving on straight roads, on the ghats you tend to feel the need to be in a lower gear to compensate the turbo lag. To elude this, you can always slot the gear lever to the ‘S’ mode or shift gears manually. The DSG also comes with Hill Hold Control and ESP, we wish it came with paddle shifters too.
The Ameo with the manual transmission is a lot more fun to drive than the DSG. You can feel the lag in the manual transmission version too but it is relative controlled as opposed to the DSG. The first cog is extremely short (for better efficiency of course) forcing you to shift up as soon as you drive off. The gearbox is the same as before; shifts are precise but a bit hard for our liking. Clutch action is softer as opposed to the Polo, but it can still be a bit painful when driving in traffic.
Yes, the wait for a sub-4 metre sedan from the house of Volkswagen was indeed long. But in all fairness, VW seems to have checked all the right boxes with this one. It is built well, has a long list of features, is safe, and has the most powerful engine in its class. The pricing of the petrol is aggressive and at a starting price of Rs 6.34 lakhs the diesel iteration is no different. The Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire and the Tata Zest AMTs are cheaper, but keeping in mind the additional power and torque, and more importantly the DSG gearbox it is surely worth every penny spent.
- Volkswagen Ameo Diesel
Engine: 1,498cc / 4-cylinders / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed Manual / 7-speed DSG
Price: Rs 6.34 lakhs to Rs 9.32 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)