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Volkswagen Ameo diesel first drive review

What is it?

As the name suggests, it is a diesel version of Volkswagen’s Ameo compact sedan. The German automaker has launched its CS earlier this year but only with the 75bhp/110Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine option; a weak link in what was otherwise found to be quite a strong package. Now with the arrival of the diesel it looks like Volkswagen has completed the package.

They had held back the launch of this revised 1.5-litre oil burner variant to rework it and eke out more power and torque as well as improve fuel efficiency. 
Externally, the only major difference between the petrol and diesel is a TDI badge at the rear. Otherwise it still has  the same Polo (esque) lines up to the C-pillar and with the stubby boot completing the design. The Ameo gets a modified front bumper to separate it from the hatchback.

At the rear the elongated roofline as well as the creases that connect the tail lamp with the spoiler helps adds some style to the overall design.

How is it on the inside?

The Ameo shares much of its cabin with the Polo hatchback which means you get the same high quality two-tone uncluttered layout seen in the latter. The top-of-the-line Highline model that we drove gets the leather wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control,  climate control and high quality plastics with silver garnish for various bits and pieces.

The self-driver nature of the Polo has been carried over and thus the front seats offer good bolstering and under thigh support. The driver’s seat can be adjusted for height while the steering can be moved for both reach and rake allowing those behind the wheel to find just the right driving position.

Space at the rear has never been a strong point for the Polo and consequently the Ameo too. The seatback is positioned oddly (to improve headroom) and knee room is acceptable (despite scooped out seat backs). This coupled with a high transmission tunnel realistically makes the back suitable for two at best.

Insulation is not one of the Ameo’s strong suites and you do hear a lot of the road noise and tyre noise  especially on concrete roads.  Finally, this is also one of the few vehicles in this part of the market to offer dual airbags and ABS as standard across the range.

How does it drive?

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.

Why should I buy one?

The Ameo, when it was launched, was deemed a good package in every department except  the engine bay. Now with this new and quite powerful diesel engine, it looks to be a complete deal. The Ameo has carried over all hallmarks of the Polo -like attention to detail in the cabin, feature list, build quality and engine line up but now with a boot to tick off all the boxes that would make a car appealing to sedan- crazy India. We feel that the diesel engine package is now one of the best on offer today and manages to give fight to the likes of Ford’s 1.5-litre diesel engine that powers the Aspire. The DSG gearbox is a boon for those who want to go easy on the left leg but are willing to shell out for a proper AT rather than the AMT option that the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and Tata Zest offer.  

Where does it fit in?

The Volkswagen Ameo diesel is priced in the range of Rs 6.34 lakh to Rs 9.32 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the top-of-line Highline diesel AT variant. It competes with the likes of the Hyundai Xcent, Ford Aspire, Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and Tata Zest which in the case of the last two also includes the AT option.

Photos: Ameya Dandekar

Spec comparo: Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Vs Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire Vs Hyundai Xcent Vs Ford Aspire

Volkswagen Ameo Highline Vs Honda Amaze VX Vs Hyundai Xcent SX (O)

Volkswagen Ameo First Drive Review



Volkswagen Ameo Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
New Delhi₹ 6.52 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 7.11 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 6.99 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 6.96 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 6.56 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 7.03 Lakhs onwards
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