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Volkswagen Vento TSI : Road Test

  • Aug 06, 2015
  • 2300 Views
[caption id="attachment_17337" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter[/caption]

The 'Indianization' of a car is common in today’s scenario where multinational car makers launch their international models in the country with a twist, to make them more suited to the tastes of buyers here.

Volkswagen has done much the same with the launch of the 2015 Vento. One thing that is a direct giveaway on the ‘Indianization’ front for the car is the extensive and prominent use of chrome on the outside of the car. In doing so, Volkswagen has also cleverly designed the front of the car to bring it in line with the company’s new design language for its updated range of sedans.

Having said that, it was not too long ago in September of 2014 that VW India had launched an updated Vento with its new 1.5 litre diesel engine. Does it then make sense to launch another refreshed model in less than a year from the launch of the previous model? We take a look to see if the new model is as justifiable as it should be.

 

[caption id="attachment_17355" align="alignnone" width="1235"]Volkswagen Vento front profile Volkswagen Vento front profile[/caption]

Exteriors

I am referring here ofcourse to the large chrome front grille which has replaced the sleek Polo sourced unit of the earlier Vento. Rounding up changes at the front are a new bonnet with a bolder crease and a new front bumper with new fog lamps and a prominent dash of chrome ofcourse!

[caption id="attachment_17338" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI side profile Volkswagen Vento TSI side profile[/caption]

The Vento’s smart side profile remains identical to the earlier model apart from new alloy wheels, ORVM integrated turn indicators and ofcourse, dashes of chrome on the door handles!

[caption id="attachment_17339" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI rear three quarter Volkswagen Vento TSI rear three quarter[/caption]

Around the back, the 2015 VW Vento gets new tail lamps, a new bumper with a deeper recess at the bottom housing sleek reflectors and again more strips of chrome on the boot lid and the bumper. The new tail pipe is chrome tipped too!

[caption id="attachment_17323" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI interior Volkswagen Vento TSI interior[/caption]

Interiors

Inside too, the 2015 Volkswagen Vento remains identical to the 2014 launched model with its dual tone interiors that consist of light brown and beige shade of plastics. Quality of materials and switch gear, build quality and fit and finish ofcourse remain top notch in typical Volkswagen style.

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The seats are supportive and comfortable and there is plenty of space for all four occupants. The high centre tunnel does not make the fifth passenger’s journey entirely comfortable. The only glitch is that front arm rest. While its cubby hole makes for a convenient storage and the arm rest itself can be a comfort feature, its intrusion into the space for operating the hand brake lever can be annoying. When it is up, i could not move my arm backwards enough to raise the hand brake. And when it was down, I found it difficult to reach the hand brake lever itself.

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The Vento in Highline trim was a well equipped car in its previous iteration, Volkswagen India has improved that with the incorporation of new features such as electric folding ORVMs, cruise control, a cooled glovebox and cornering lamps as well using the front fog lamps.

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Standard equipment includes, a double-DIN stereo with USB, CD, SD card, AUX, Bluetooth and radio compatibility with steering mounted controls, one touch power windows all around, climate control, a comprehensive driver information display, height adjustable driver’s seat, front passenger seat stow away feature, tilt and telescopically adjustable steering wheel, remote keyless entry, electric ORVMs, rear defogger and day / night IRVM.

 

[caption id="attachment_17335" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI engine Volkswagen Vento TSI engine[/caption]

Engine and Gearbox

The Volkswagen Vento TSI is a rather unique car in its segment with its petrol engine that is the smallest unit fitted to any mid-size sedan in the Indian car market as of now. There is nothing small about its power output though as its 1.2 litre, four cylinder engine features direct fuel injection and is hooked to a turbocharger. Maximum power and torque outputs are rated at 105PS @ 5,000 rpm and 175Nm between 1,500 rpm and 4,100 rpm respectively.

[caption id="attachment_17325" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI gear lever Volkswagen Vento TSI gear lever[/caption]

This puts it on par with its petrol automatic rivals, on paper atleast. But in the real world, the story is a bit different. The engine happens to be mated to a seven-speed double clutch automatic gearbox. Essentially, the Vento TSI has the same powertrain as the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI hot hatchback. You get the idea now.

The Vento TSI is a little under 100 kilos heavier than its hatchback counterpart but is still capable of delivering a thrilling drive experience. Keeping with the nature of mid-size sedans, the larger and heavier Vento TSI has been made more efficient than the Polo GT TSI with an ARAI rating of 18.19 km/l. This has been done by recaliberating the powertrain in the Vento, which has taken some of the edge off from the GT TSI’s acceleration capabilities.

Firing up the engine makes for a bit of a clatter, but then the engine settles down nicely and remains that way throughout the drive. Apart from when you out your foot down. More on that later.

[caption id="attachment_17316" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI Volkswagen Vento TSI[/caption]

The wide torque band of the Vento TSI and the availability of peak torque right from 1,500 rpm ensures that the sedan has no turbo lag to provide linear acceleration. And the engine’s rev happy nature ensures that the unit revs cleanly at the top of the powerband.

Shift the upmarket gear lever to ‘S’ mode and the powertrain will hold revs longer, downshift when needed while delivering a nice sporty roar at higher revs, making the Vento TSI a fun to drive machine.

[caption id="attachment_17319" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI dynamic side profile Volkswagen Vento TSI dynamic side profile[/caption]

And if you want to feel more connected to the machine, slot the gear lever into manual mode and toggle the gear lever for manual gear shifts. I do wish though, that the unit was a wee bit more responsive in certain rare instances where the driver wants the power to be delivered instantly. This is however a small price to pay for the convenience that this autobox offers while negotiating heavy traffic where driving the Vento TSI becomes an absolute breeze!

Infact, I drove this car during peak traffic for an entire day on which I had also done a shoot at 5 am. Thanks to the responsive autobox though, I arrived home that night past midnight without looking like a dead horse. That's how comfortable and easy to drive this car is.

Acceleration is brisk at any time you put your foot down and the Vento feels very refined and composed at triple digit speeds.

[caption id="attachment_17318" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI dynamic rear three quarter Volkswagen Vento TSI dynamic rear three quarter[/caption]

The gearbox also comes with hill hold function to prevent the car from rolling backwards on an uphill incline when the driver is switching between the throttle and the brake pedal.

[caption id="attachment_17320" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter cornering Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter cornering[/caption]

Ride and Handling

The Volkswagen Vento has always been known for its superb road manners that makes it a joy to take corners in. The car feels confident and tracks true when taking corners at high speeds. The steering is predictable but some more feedback from the unit would be great.

The car’s monocoque chassis always feels planted and helps keeps the car poised at all times. The McPherson Strut front suspension and semi-independent trailing arm rear suspension with stabilizer bars at the front and rear do a good job of dismissing road imperfections and provide a comfortable ride at all times. Its only sharp bumps at speeds that thump through.

[caption id="attachment_17321" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI rear three quarter cornering Volkswagen Vento TSI rear three quarter cornering[/caption]

VW has loaded the Vento with an electronic stability programme that limits power to individual wheels when the system detects loss of traction on either of the driven wheels while also providing the right amount of braking to help the wheels find traction quickly. You can switch the system off for some nice cornering, where the car’s well balanced chassis ensures that the car remains in control while exploring the limit of grip from the 185/60 tyres.

 

[caption id="attachment_17333" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI stability programme Volkswagen Vento TSI stability programme[/caption]

Safety

The Volkswagen Vento TSI in Highline spec comes fitted with active safety features such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, hill hold function and dual front airbags. The car has a strong passenger cell with passive safety features such as impact beams and crumple zones.

 

[caption id="attachment_17315" align="alignnone" width="1280"]Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter dynamic Volkswagen Vento TSI front three quarter dynamic[/caption]

Verdict

The Volkswagen Vento TSI is a very refined offering in its segment with its easy to drive manner, quiet powertrain, low NVH, responsive automatic gearbox and comfortable ride. Engage sports mode though in the gearbox, and this automatic mid-size sedan provides quite an inspiring drive experience. This then is the perfect recipe for those looking for a refined, comfortable, safe, well equipped mid-size sedan that is easy to drive and fun to drive at the same time!
While this combination was available in the earlier models of the Vento TSI as well, you can now have it in a more ‘Indianized’ manner with more chrome and bling! Although, it may not appeal to everyone’s tastes it sure will be accepted well by the masses.

Photography by Siddharth
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