The diesel engine on offer is the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit found in a variety of VW badged vehicle but has now been reworked to produce 108bhp/250Nm of torque and can be had with a five-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG. This is an increase of 5bhp/20Nm over the older spec engine. The ARAI fuel efficiency is 21.93kmpl.
We start off with the more affordable manual variant. Crank up the engine and it comes to life with the typical thrum of a four-pot diesel motor. It is quite audible in the cabin even with all the windows up. Slot into first and step on the gas and it gets off the line significantly faster when compared to the three-cylinder petrol. There is some turbo lag up to the 2000rpm mark after which you can feel the torque delivery in a linear manner. It has been spread out well and there is a good mid-range which allows you to do figures like 100kmph at just 2600rpm. Coming to the gearbox itself, the shifts are slick and feel precise when you go from gear to gear. In terms of performance the manual variant has a 0-100kmph time of 10.85 seconds while the 20-80kmph time in third gear is 9.72 seconds which is actually really good. Finally, the 40-100kmph time in fourth gear is 11.08 seconds.
The other transmission option for this engine is the seven-speed DSG which does duty in a variety of diesel and petrol cars across various brands in the Wolfsburg-based automaker’s stable. It is offered with two modes Drive and Sport of which the former also gets the option of a manual mode. The Sport mode on the other hand lets the engine rev freely and will shift only when it reaches the redline, a useful tool when you want to drive a bit spiritedly or perform a quick overtake.
Mated to this engine it does a pretty good job of keeping the revvs in the meat of the torque band despite noticeable turbo lag under the 2000rpm mark and being a bit slow in upshifting through the range. In the D-mode you can cruise at 100kmph in D7 at just 2200rpm. There is sufficient power on the tap and overtakes in the D-mode are achieved by dropping two gears. You also get a good amount of engine braking if you switch to manual mode and downshift manually. Testing reveals that the 20-80kmph time in third gear is 6.08 seconds while 40-100kmph in fourth gear is 8.2 seconds. Finally, the all-important 0-100kmph time is 11 seconds.
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.