Volkswagen Ameo? A race car? Odds are you have never heard these words next to each other in a sentence. Nonetheless, the Ameo Cup race car does exist and is in fact VW Motorsport...
|Price|| 5.89 Lakhs onwards|
|Mileage|| 19.44 to 21.73 kmpl|
|Engine|| 999 to 1498 cc|
|Transmission|| Manual and Automatic|Variant name Price 999 cc, Petrol, Manual, 19.44 kmpl ₹ 5.89 Lakhs 999 cc, Petrol, Manual, 19.44 kmpl ₹ 6.43 Lakhs 1498 cc, Diesel, Manual, 21.66 kmpl ₹ 7.07 Lakhs 999 cc, Petrol, Manual, 19.44 kmpl ₹ 7.86 Lakhs 1498 cc, Diesel, Manual, 21.66 kmpl ₹ 7.89 Lakhs 1498 cc, Diesel, Manual, 21.66 kmpl ₹ 9.1 Lakhs 1498 cc, Diesel, Automatic, 21.73 kmpl ₹ 10 Lakhs
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Volkswagen Ameo Review
Volkswagen Ameo? A race car? Odds are you have never heard these words next to each other in a sentence. Nonetheless, the Ameo Cup race car does exist and is in fact VW Motorsport India’s most recent hard-hitting track tool.
What is it?
Volkswagen Ameo? A race car? Odds are you have never heard these words next to each other in a sentence. Nonetheless, the Ameo Cup race car does exist and is in fact VW Motorsport India’s most recent hard-hitting track tool. Let’s get one thing straight though – comparing the race car to the bog standard Ameo compact sedan is like comparing an Udupi restaurant to McDonalds. They are worlds apart.
What makes it special?
Naturally the basics of the road-going Ameo remain – it’s still got four doors, standard headlights and windscreen wipers but that’s pretty much it. Otherwise, the Cup car is a whole different animal. It’s an amalgamation of the much-loved GTI with a raft of race-spec goodness for maximum attack. Starting with the engine, the 1.8-litre motor is the same EA888 series unit that powers the GTI but makes way more power, at 205bhp and 320Nm of torque. This is down to the supporting mods including a performance intake, race-spec ECU and exhaust system. That said, VW Motorsport says they have developed a new map which can take the horsepower up to 250bhp without running the risk of stressing the internals.
In a world where 350bhp production hot hatchbacks are common, 205bhp might not sound like much. But in a 1,150kg stripped out race car, the output allows for pretty vigorous thrust. That thrust finds its way to the front wheels via a 6-speed sequential gearbox – a legit dog-box transmission with steering mounted paddle shifters. As for the supporting mods, the car runs on a race-spec ECU which has been calibrated to work with the stock GTI motor and the sequential gearbox. Naturally, the suspension components have also been upgraded big time with 2-way adjustable KW dampers and Eibach lowered springs. Braking duties, meanwhile, are handled by an all-round disc setup with beefier calipers and race-spec ABS.
Getting behind the wheel of the Ameo Cup car is an event in itself. Like all extreme race cars, getting into the driver’s seat requires a mix of experience, resolve and some acrobatic moves to squeeze through the roll cage and into the extremely tight bucket seat. However, once you are settled and raring to go, it’s difficult to not get awestruck by the all the purpose-built equipment including the half exposed dash, the data logger display behind the steering wheel and the all-important control panel on the centre console. Lastly, the view out of the rear glass is especially mesmerising as you get to see the gigantic carbon fibre rear wing that’s actually mounted at the back of the boot lid rather than on it.
The other racing concession comes from the fact that VW Motorsport has placed the engine slightly lower than the standard car and moved a few auxiliary engine bay items like the battery and the windscreen washer fluid container at the back for better weight distribution. That’s great, but all said and done, let’s see what it’s actually like to drive a humble compact sedan turned into a full-on race car.
What I think it can do
Next to exotics like the Mercedes AMG GTR, the Audi R8 and the RS7 Performance, you might think the Ameo Cup car stands no chance. However, let’s not forget it isn’t your regular performance car. It’s a track-only machine that exists to devour lap times and for maximum attack it will require smooth steering inputs and as few of them as possible. Also, the car will demand every bit of the grip available in the corners in order to maintain momentum – scrub off too much speed under braking or enter a sharp corner too hot and it will take some effort to make up for lost time given the relatively modest power output.
The track test
Put simply, the Ameo Cup car is immense fun over a circuit like the MMRT, but you need to get your head around it in order to even scratch the surface of its potential. Push down the clutch – yes, the sequential gearbox requires the ‘man pedal’ to allow some amount of slippage when setting off – pull the right hand paddle to engage first, lift the clutch up slowly while sensing the bite point before feeding a heavy dose of revs and you are ready to set the track on fire.
Accelerating down the pit lane and approaching C1, the combination of the raw, unadulterated sound of the engine and the loud transmission whine is perhaps the most overwhelming sensation – this 1.8-litre motor barks through the derestricted exhaust to make sure the Ameo sounds at home at the MMRT. Mind you, this is my first time out with the car and I am just warming up to the firecracker that’s underneath the shell and it already feels lively and tremendously eager to change directions. Gingerly I started picking up the pace and immediately the Ameo Cup car’s strengths came into focus – the turbocharged motor has a surprisingly linear pull and it never feels as if it’s running out of puff too early. Over the two fairly long back straights before C4 and C8, this VW pulls like a train, banging through the gears with brutally quick upshifts. The sequential box, in fact, is so effective yet vicious at the same time you will feel every gear change unless you shift near the redline. On my second lap, I took the brave pill and powered hard through the chicanes after C3 and hit fifth gear before the braking zone into C4. This is where I got a chance to give the brakes a proper workout and boy did they shine! As you would expect, the brakes on the cup car are both resilient and powerful – they are apt for lap after lap of hard driving.
The C7 undoubtedly is the most difficult corner to master as it’s a long right-hander that’s not only ever tightening but also a double apex turn. Getting a fast exit out of it is important because it leads onto the second of the two seriously quick sections of the MMRT. Here the Ameo Cup car did have a tendency to move around a bit, especially when lifting off the throttle. Our pro driver for the day, Rayomand Banajee explained the only way to deal with it was to keep the right foot buried to the floor. So I did, and he was right. Sure, the rear-end wiggles tiny bit but you simply need to trust that the car will grip and stick to its line, thanks to the full slick rubber. This brings us to the most astonishing feature of the Ameo Cup car – the handling.
We always hear terms such as ‘Go kart like’ and ‘razor sharp’ when reading about track focused road cars and while most of them generally behave likewise, the Ameo Cup car is in another league. The leech like grip from the slick tyres and the stiffly sprung set up meant I was carrying way too much speed into the corners than what my mind would deem was possible. Better still, it’s the way this car changes direction is what truly boggles the mind – through the fast C9 and the entire last sector of the track, the car felt remarkably quick. That said, it does require some amount of delicate touch – get on the power early and you will face understeer. Rayo was quick to point out that the development team has engineered a certain degree of understeer into the car when it’s at the limit. “Essentially it’s meant for people who are taking their first plunge into motorsports and accordingly its set up more towards understeer. The set up makes it more stable and easier to control especially for a newcomer”.
As far as I can figure out, the correct way to muscle the Ameo Cup car is by taking the wide line and dabbing the brakes before turning into the apex. Also, since the rear end is so incredibly planted for the most part, it only makes sense tucking the nose viciously into the apex and putting that strong front-end grip to full use. Get it all right and it’s a hugely satisfying feeling which is probably what Rayo felt as he clocked the second fastest time of the day (1m 56.60s). To put things into perspective, that’s over 20 seconds quicker than the Polo GT TSI and a good couple of seconds faster than the ludicrously powerful Mercedes AMG GTR.
Before I could realise it was time to return to the pits for the last time and I found myself reluctantly pulling into one of the pit garages. I didn’t want to climb out of the car. I wanted to stay on the track until sunset. As it cruised down the pit lane I reflected on the whole experience and it hit me – the Ameo Cup car is more than happy to oblige no matter how ruthless you are with the steering and the brakes. The handling is legit ‘point and shoot’ affair when it comes to hitting the apexes and the car is always hungry for speed and raring to be driven hard. However, there is one major issue with driving this car – it is incredibly addictive and now I know for a fact that I would never get enough of it. Sigh.
Volkswagen Ameo Colours
Ameo is available/sold in the following colours in India.
Volkswagen Ameo 360° view
Volkswagen Ameo Expert Reviews
Ameo Specifications Summary
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