Snapshot: Can VW Ameo compete with some of the established giants in the compact sedan segment?
There's a popular saying – "Save the best for the last" and it seems Volkswagen completely adhered to the quote. The newly launched Volkswagen Ameo took almost two years to develop and has finally been launched in India. 'Made In India, Made For India' is what they're pitching for the Ameo as the compact sedan is designed and manufactured locally.
So what new does the Ameo brings to the table, and can it compete with some of the established giants, we find in our Volkswagen Ameo review.
The Volkswagen Ameo comes in a segment where manufacturers have to squeeze-in a boot on a hatchback under 4-metre. To tackle the situation, VW clipped-off 30 mm from the Polo's front, provided a thick slanting C-pillar and added a 330-litre boot. While it's hard to say that VW Ameo is a proper sedan, it does look good, thanks to the Polo sourced looks. The chrome line running on the bonnet lip is a stand-out feature in the Ameo.
It will take a really keen eye to figure out Polo from the Ameo when seen head-on. From the side, the car doesn't look like a sub 4-metre vehicle and gives a proper sedan look. The rear on the other hand, is a bit of dull angle, when compared to the rest of the car. Too much of the square design language on the tail light and boot section makes it look boxy.
The Volkswagen Ameo is by far the best compact sedan when it comes to the cabin quality and boast of an exhaustive list of features. Again, it's same as the Polo hatchback in terms of the cabin design, but has many first-in-segment features like the cruise control, rain sensing wipers, and one-touch power windows with the Pinch guard.
The space in the front is adequate and the driver seat is supportive enough. Sadly, it's not same with the rest of the cabin and we didn't like the space in the rear seats. The under thigh support on the passenger side is also a pain for the long journeys. There's a big hump on the floor in the back seat, which means sitting 3 adults at the back will be a tussle. Rear AC is a nice touch though.
The cabin in itself is as good looking as the Polo and probably the best in the segment. The dashboard is made with black and beige plastic that feels solid to touch. The aluminium brushed AC and infotainment system enclosure and the flat-bottom steering with piano-black accents feels rich and adds a lot of drama to the cabin.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Volkswagen opted for the tried and tested 3-cylinder 1.2-litre MPI petrol engine that produces 74 bhp and 110 Nm of torque and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. VW will also launch the 1.5 TDI diesel engine in the festive season, but for now, only the petrol motor is available.
Our first drive impression of the VW Ameo are not very favorable and anyone who is planning for a performance oriented driver's car, will be left disappointed. Both power and torque are on the lower side and add to it the 11 kg weight gain, the performance disappoints you heavily. You have to push the accelerator real hard when trying to overtake and wait for the rev meter to cross 4000 rpm to feel the kick.
So much acceleration leads to a noisy engine, although we managed to cross the 120 kmph mark quite-a-few times. The gears are crisp anyways and the engine responds well when changing gears. It's a good city car nevertheless and the 3-pot motor won't create much trouble when cruising below 80kmph.
Ride and Handling
Volkswagen was so confident with the Ameo that they gave us the sedan to drive on every harsh terrain possible and it came out with flying colors. The Ameo is made on the Polo platform which was raised a couple of years back to increase the ground clearance. We were amazed to see the kind of beating this car can take on the harshest of terrains.
The steering is responsive and on the right side of accuracy. It's tight enough to retain the grip and loose enough to flick the car with ease. The ride quality is strictly on the OK side and we found the car jumping more as compared to some of the rivals.
Safety and Features
Volkswagen has always been a pioneer when it comes to manufacturing safe cars and the Ameo is no different. With standard dual-airbags upfront, ABS, ESP and Hill Descent Control (only in DSG equipped diesel variant), Ameo is one of the safest cars in the segment. In terms of the equipment, there's a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted controls, Automatic climate control, air-cooled glove box, reverse parking camera and many features alike.
The Volkswagen Ameo offers a solid built quality, many first-in-segment features, great handling, and good looks. Surely, it's no Honda Amaze in terms of the space, no Maruti Suzuki Dzire in terms of the mileage, but it has its own charm. The charm of being a well built German car that is priced so strategically, it can easily be one of the best-seller in the country. A viable European alternative to the Japanese and Korean offerings, we would say!
Images by Arjit Garg