German automotive giant Volkswagen has finally entered into the compact sedan segment of the Indian car market with the new Ameo. This new sub 4 metre sedan based on the VW Vento and Polo will have to face stiff resistance from a whole bevy of other compact sedans that include the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Ford Figo Aspire, Honda Amaze, Tata Zest and the Hyundai Xcent, amongst others. It also happens to be the first ever made-for-India VW. Read on to know how it fares in this competitive segment.
Powertrain and Performance
Initially, Volkswagen will sell the Ameo with a petrol engine only; and the diesel version is expected to be launched towards the end of 2016. The petrol engine is the familiar and reliable 1.2 litre, 3 cylinder motor that delivers 74 bhp. It comes connected to a 5 speed manual gearbox. The diesel version, which will be introduced later, will be powered by a 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder engine that produces 89 bhp; and it even has the option of being ordered with a 7 speed, dual clutch, DSG automatic transmission (thereby making the Ameo the first car in its class to have a double clutch automatic gearbox). The petrol engine is rather loud because it is a 3 cylinder and, although it has sufficient power for city commutes, we felt that it could do with a bit more on highways. Ride quality is fairly good and the car handles satisfactorily as well.
Build and Styling
Truncating the boot of a proper sedan to make it a compact sedan is a job that is easy to foul up. However, VW seems to have pulled it off quite well in the case of the Ameo. The car does not look badly disproportionate from any angle. Subtle usage of chrome along with details such as the aesthetic front fog lamps and the no-nonsense alloy wheels give the car a premium look. On the inside, it is typically understated but the build quality, as always with VWs, is excellent. You get a surprisingly good amount of kit as well. The features list includes a touchscreen infotainment system, MirrorLink, steering mounted controls, bluetooth, aux-in and USB support, automatic climate control, a cooled glove box, cruise control, illuminated footwells, rear AC vents, power adjustable rear view mirrors, electric windows all around and a soft-touch boot release mechanism. On the safety front, VW has given the Ameo dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, keyless entry, automatic rain sensing wipers and a rear view camera.
Although this is a classic case of better late than never, the Ameo has been well worth the wait. VW has taken its time to deliver a product that appeals to the mind of the Indian car buyer. The Ameo performs reasonably well, is high on features and its looks will not offend anyone. Most importantly, it has also been priced aggressively, which should give it that much needed added advantage against the competition.