I was delighted when keys engraved with a Volkswagen logo was handed over to me as my long termer for the next three months. My 50-odd kilometre commute to office in Navi Mumbai apart from the extensive shoot schedule means I always prefer a frugal diesel as my long termer. So I was not complaining as the Ameo TDI seemed like a viable choice since it’s not only powerful enough, it is said to be fuel efficient as well. Having witnessed the Ameo transform into a purpose-built race car last year, I am now eager to use this compact sedan from Volkswagen as my daily.
This particular variant we have here is the Highline Plus trim finished in a sober-looking Carbon Steel paint job. It is neither proper black nor is it silver. And that makes our Ameo stand out. The sharp nose coupled with a tight and boxy rear makes the Ameo a handsome looking car. That said, this German compact sedan is truly distinctive when compared to its direct rivals namely the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Xcent and Honda Amaze. I also like the fact that Ameo’s dark silver-finished multi-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels are very similar to the Ameo Cup car. No wonder they gel with the sportier stance of this sub-four-metre sedan.
Inside, the Ameo feels far more premium compared to its rivals. It’s simple, nice and premium feel comes through right from the moment you close the door with a satisfying thud. The fit and finish of the plastics inside the cabin are top-notch, the leather wrapped steering wheel feels just about perfect and well-bolstered seats with height adjustment allows you to settle into a relaxing yet engaging driving position. The high-quality two-tone uncluttered layout means everything falls right into hand.
I particularly liked the aptly positioned AC vents on the dashboard. What’s more, there are air vents for rear passengers as well. However, the rear seats aren’t the best selling point for these Volkswagens. The seatback has been positioned oddly in order to improve headroom and knee room is acceptable despite the scooped out front seats. That brings us to the boot, which, at 330 litres is sufficiently big for our camera equipment with some room to spare.
I have used the Ameo for barely a month now and I must say I am highly impressed with the touchscreen infotainment system. The minimalistic graphics with monotone finish means the system is quick to respond. Moreover, the solid build quality can also be seen on the buttons flanking the screen, and as mentioned earlier – they are easy to reach and have great feedback especially while driving. Likewise, the system also comes with all the connectivity features like Android Auto, Apple Carplay, Mirrorlink, and Volkswagen’s App Connect apart from Bluetooth, USB and voice command and notably, the system is easy to pair too.
In terms of a features list, the Ameo Highline gets automatic climate control, reverse camera with rear parking sensors, driver armrest with storage, cooled glove box, sunglass holder, powered windows with one-touch up-down, electric ORVMs, steering mounted controls, cruise control, and ABS with dual airbags.
Powering our Ameo is a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine which is the most powerful motor in its class. It produces 108bhp and 250Nm and although I’d have loved the convenience of a DSG automatic there’s no complaining about the sleek shifting five-speed manual. So far, the fuel economy of a 16.1kmpl in the city isn’t too bad and it easily crosses the 18kmpl mark on the highway.
Now that the Mumbai rains are upon us, I am glad to be commuting in the Ameo through our ravaged road conditions, infuriating traffic conditions and inundated potholes. We also have some Mumbai-Pune trips planed apart from our usual shoots with this Volkswagen. Fun days ahead.