If you are out looking for a practical compact sedan, there’s a new entry heading your way from the land of the hyper speed autobahns and beer gardens or ‘Biergarten’, as the locals would say.
The Volkswagen Ameo, which will be delivered to customers starting next month, is the long overdue result of VW attempting to crack the escalating compact sedan segment. Essentially a boot-ed version of the Polo, the Ameo is the first ever VW model to be designed purely for the Indian market and the brand has made no bones about the fact that it’s betting big on this car. Apply car loan for Ameo at Carzprice
On paper the Ameo checks most of the right boxes and it certainly looks and feels the part. But going beyond what’s apparent, how well does it behave out on the road and more importantly, is it a worthy alternative to the current crop of compact sedans? A brief drive across the scenic route towards Wai suggests it just might be
The design of the Ameo. On the outside and for the most part inside the cabin too, the design and layout remains identical to the petrol version. Like is the case also with almost all the other compact sedans, the Ameo looks a bit gawky when viewed from the side. The stubby boot is disproportionate with the front of the car, and the impression that the third box has been slapped on to the rear of the hatchback is inescapable. But, the design doesn’t hurt the eye and in fact, viewed straight-on from the rear, the Ameo’s design actually seems to have a unique character which still ties in well with other VW cars.
All the familiar design elements of the Polo are there in the Ameo TDI diesel too, as also some of the distinguishing tweaks to the design of the airdam, front fender, the new tail-lamps and boot lid
The Volkswagen Ameo diesel has the same interiors as the petrol model and there is nothing to differentiate between the two models except the tachometer which is marked till 6000 RPM on the oil burner. The dual-tone black and beige interiors look very nice and this is nothing but a Polo cabin with slight improvements to the rear headroom due to the re-designed C-pillar. But the rear seat lacks in legroom, knee room and under-thigh support so this isn’t a car you would want to sit behind, specially if you are tall.
The Volkswagen Ameo is equipped with a ton of features, many of them are segment first like rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, window opening and closing using key remote, one-touch up/down for all windows and anti-pinch windows. There are decent amount of storage spaces but the boot is far from being the biggest in the segment. Where the Ameo can’t be matched is the build quality, it feels very solidly put-together and is made like a tank.
The Volkswagen Ameo is available with a 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engine. The petrol is available with a five-speed manual and the diesel even has an option of a seven-speed DSG. The NVH levels on both the engines are a bit off. There is more than sufficient power in the petrol and the diesel is certainly a lot more powerful. The petrol engine is noisy and the diesel engine has a lot of clatter noise. Overtaking is a breeze with the diesel engine, however the petrol needs a downshift. The automatic version of the diesel is a lot more comfortable to drive and convenient to use.
Drivability is good on both. The sudden boost after 1800rpm is reveling. There is always the joy of driving the diesel engine. Also, the clutch is a tad deeper than the petrol engine. The diesel clutch is heavy, which makes it difficult to drive in city traffic.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
Don’t let the sporty looking flat-bottom steering wheel fool you. The Ameo is a compact sedan, after all, and it handles exactly like it’s supposed to. Like all other cars in its class, the Ameo’s suspension set up has been oriented towards comfort. That said, it has got the second best balance between ride and handling, after the Honda Amaze. The steering on the Ameo feels vague around the straight-ahead position and is slow to turn in. It’s initially light but becomes gradually heavier as more lock is applied. All in all, it lacks the consistency in feel that’s to be found in rivals like the Ford Figo Aspire.
The production-spec Ameo rides on 15-inch wheels as opposed to the bigger 16-inchers seen on the show car at the Auto Expo. Nevertheless, the Ameo’s ride quality is quite good – we sampled it across both pothole-ridden city streets and wide open tarmac on the highway. It deals with undulated surfaces rather well despite transmitting some sharp bumps from on the road into the cabin. So what’s not to like in terms of dynamics? Well, the Ameo, like all other compact sedans, has that inherent floatiness to its high speed ride. One has to make constant steering corrections to keep the thing true to its line.
The Volkswagen Ameo diesel is a very good package since it comes with great build quality, loaded equipment list, a power packed engine and two really nice gearboxes. The compact sedan does look a bit quirky from certain angles but looks are always subjective. Overall, Volkswagen has got a really fine product on their hands with the Ameo TDI and we really wish it fetches more sales now because the numbers of the petrol Ameo have been far from satisfying.