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Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Automatic Review: The Most Powerful Compact Sedan in India
Volkswagen Ameo. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/News18.com)
The compact sedans, which seem to be all the rage with automakers these days, are a bit more than hatchbacks to be called a hatchback and not sedan enough to be called a sedan. Hence, finding the sweet spot between the two segments, keeping the price in check and sticking to all the rules and regulations in order to get the tax break that sub-4 metre cars get can be tricky to master. But, that has not deterred auto companies from trying, as almost every major automaker has an offering in this segment.
Volkswagen (VW) already has the Polo hatchback and the Vento sedan. Filling the gap in between them is the Ameo. We have already reviewed the 1.2-litre petrol engine powered variant which you can read here.
Given that VW later added a diesel engine powered variant, we test it out to see how does it stack up against its competition.
In terms of looks, the diesel-powered Ameo looks identical to the petrol-powered Ameo from the outside and the inside as well and hence, we won't go much into details.
To put it simply, the Ameo looks similar to the Polo and the Vento from the front. It is from the back, where it really stands itself apart with the protruding boot-lid. The smoked headlamps, chrome along the front bumper and the outside rear view mirrors with integrated turn signals give the car a premium look.
Volkswagen Ameo from the back. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/News18.com)
The interiors too are identical to the petrol engine powered variant which means, you get the top-notch quality cabin with brilliant built quality, fit and finish. Key things to mention about the interiors is the subtly flat-bottomed steering wheel which gives a sporty feel and the responsive touchscreen infotainment system that supports Bluetooth audio and telephony, USB, AUX, SD-Card support, Voice command along with MirroLink. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on offer here but if your smartphone supports MirroLink then you won't be missing it either.
To top it all, rear ac-vent, electrically adjustable and retractable outside rear view mirrors, height and reach adjustable steering wheel and the armrest at the front makes things a lot better.
All in all, most of the time you would spending with the Ameo is inside it and the cabin experience won't give you a chance to complain.
What sets the Ameo apart from its competition is the huge list of features on offer. There's cruise control, reverse parking camera with sensors, automatic rain sensing wipers, one-touch anti-pinch power windows (all four) and a cooled glove box.
The best part about the car, though, has to be its heart. It is powered by the familiar 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that is seen on the Polo and the Vento. But, in this case, it has been retuned to produce more power. The result is an output of 110 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque which not only makes it more powerful than the Vento and Polo GT TDI, but also the most powerful sub-4 metre compact sedan in India!
The car we drove came with Volkswagen's much acclaimed 7-speed DSG (dual-clutch) gearbox.
Volkswagen Ameo comes with the DSG gearbox. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/News18.com)
Once you start driving it, it is clear that the gearbox has been tuned for better efficiency over performance and the car's efficiency figures prove that. During our testing, we drove the car mostly through Delhi's infamous city traffic with the air conditioning on at all times and the car's onboard computers indicated a mileage of 16 km/l. This means that the car should be able to give around 18 km/l on the highway and when you couple that with the 45-litre fuel tank capacity, you are looking at a range of about 800 kilometres and that's nothing short of impressive.
If you want performance, then you can always choose to put the car in 'Sports' mode which makes for gear shifts at a higher RPM which, in turn, makes for a sportier drive. There is a bit of a turbo lag that can be felt below 2000 RPM but once you go past that, the Ameo has enough grunt to give you a smile on your face.
The steering feels well weighted and the suspension setup feels stiff which makes the car feel planted even at triple digit speeds.
When it comes to safety, then Volkswagen has you covered with Dual airbags and ABS as standard across all variants. There is also Hill Hold Assist and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) available on the top-end variant.
To sum up the drive experience, the Ameo offers one of the best in its class at highway speeds.
What's Not So Cool?
While the weighted steering wheel and the stiff suspension means good stability at high speeds, the downside is that while in bumper to bumper traffic and typical city roads, the car could feel a bit cumbersome to drive.
And while there is a bit of a turbo lag under 2000 RPM, once you get used to operating the DSG gearbox and get familiar to when the gearbox prefers to upshift and downshift, you won't feel that there is any lag. It just takes a bit of a time to get used to.
The Volkswagen Ameo competes against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki DZire, Ford Figo Aspire, Hyundai Xcent, Tata Tigor and the Honda Amaze.
The factors working in favour of the Ameo is that it is the most powerful diesel-powered offering in the segment, a good 10 horsepower more than the second to Ameo Ford Figo Aspire which develops 100 hp.
Also, the Ameo is the only car that gets a dual-clutch transmission. The only competitors that offer automatic transmission are the Tata Zest and the Maruti Suzuki DZire. Yes, the automatic transmission equipped Ameo is more expensive than both of them, the thing to keep in mind, though, has to be that both the Zest and the DZire come with AMT transmission which cannot match the performance and smoothness of VW's DSG gearbox.
One of the biggest factors that play a key role in this segment for buyers is the pricing of the car and the Volkswagen Ameo Diesel with the DSG gearbox certainly isn't the most accessible one at a base price tag of Rs 8.5 lakh and Rs 9.8 lakh for the top-end 'Highline' variant – the one we tested (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
So is it worth the extra money?
What it comes down to is the kind of use that you are looking out for from your car. If you are looking to be driven around by a chauffeur then perhaps you can elsewhere. But if you are going to drive the car yourself and are looking for a fun and engaging drive experience then the Ameo is one of the best in the segment.
Add to that the sweet array of features on offer, the built quality of a Volkswagen, a premium cabin and the oh-so-wonderful DSG gearbox and the Ameo, despite the steep price tag, still manages to come across as a value for money offering which just can't be missed.
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