Volkswagen Ameo Facelift Review & First Drive

Volkswagen Ameo Overview

It was a little surprising to find out that the Volkswagen Ameo – a late entrant in the super-competitive compact sedan segment – would be entering the market with one arm tied behind its back. It was launched with only a single engine and gearbox option – the 75hp 1.2-litre MPI with a five-speed manual. In fact, the engine was the weakest point in what turned out to be an otherwise rather excellent car. We knew a diesel variant would be introduced by the festive season, and the wait appears to have been worth it, as it’s an upgraded version of the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TDI motor we’ve already tried in the Vento, Polo and Skoda Rapid. It’s got 5hp more power and the same 250Nm of torque and apart from the manual, you can also have it with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. This could just be what it takes to find the VW Ameo some serious fans. Book a Test drive for Volkswagen Ameo.

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Volkswagen Ameo Exterior & Style

Yes, we know most of you will look at it and say this is identical to the Polo from the front, but this is a Volkswagen car and there are bound to be some differences. And there are. The front bumper is tucked in by 35mm which gave Volkswagen a little more space to play around with at the rear. The edges of the front bumper are also slightly different with a deeper scooped-out mould that makes the car appear slightly wider. All said and done, it does share the front fenders, grille and the bonnet with the Polo along with the dual barrel headlamps. A daytime running light setup along with projector lights would have gone a long way in making the car even more appealing though.

Volkswagen hasn’t just haphazardly pasted a boot on the back of the Polo. What is good to see is the fact that the C-pillar flows really well into the stubby bootlid and even though it is difficult to design a pretty looking car with the length restriction, we think that the Ameo is one of the most balanced sub-4-metre sedan around. The bootlid itself, though, does look a little bland and flat at first glance but look closely and you will notice some very well placed angular panels and cuts. If there was one part of the design that did disappoint a little, it would be the tail lamps. They could have certainly been a lot better designed and helped make the rear look a lot more attractive.

Volkswagen Ameo Interior & Space

The Ameo shares the dashboard with the Polo but that is not a bad thing. You get a very smart looking centre console that is finished in a shade of brushed silver along with a set of rectangular air vents. The double DIN infotainment system does support USB and Bluetooth connectivity but does not have Apple CarPlay. It does, however, have Volkswagen’s excellent new user interface and Android Mirrorlink. Other features include climate control, a much needed central arm rest and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. Volkswagen has also stuffed the Ameo with first-in-class features like cruise control, anti-pinch windows for all four glasses and rain-sensing wipers.

Front seats are the same as the Polo and are height adjustable for the driver. The seats themselves offer good support for the driver but VW has reworked the back rest which has now been scooped out to provide better legroom to the rear passengers. The Ameo is more spacious than the Polo in terms of rear legroom but not as spacious compared to the Honda Amaze and the Ford Figo Aspire, and is a little short on under-thigh support too. That said, even though the roof on the Ameo is 15mm lower at the rear than the Vento or the Polo, there is a lot of headspace even for a six-foot tall passenger. A central armrest at the rear would have been a good touch but you do get rear AC vents that add considerably to passenger comfort.

Volkswagen Ameo Engine & Performance

After the disappointment of VW’s anaemic 1.2 MPI petrol engine in the Ameo, we knew it could only be uphill from there. But this latest version of the 1.5 TDI diesel is just plain impressive. Sure, it’s a little noisy at start-up and at higher revs, but the car is quite well insulated and it’s something you can get used to. With 110hp and 250Nm, it’s a wee bit more powerful than the old version of this motor, thanks to a new, larger turbocharger. There’s no way to do an ‘apples to apples’ comparison with the old motor just yet, but we can tell you that in the Ameo, the new one feels supremely punchy and powerful. For Volkswagen Ameo visit tec.net.in

Release the slightly firm clutch pedal in the five-speed manual Ameo TDI and it will jump off the line eagerly, the short first gear prompting you flick the light gear lever down into second shortly after. There is a noticeable surge of power at around 2000rpm but there on, there’s seemingly no let up right till 5000rpm. And since the powerband is relatively short even by diesel standards, you charge through it rather quickly. It’s even got a decent top end. And, because the gear ratios have been smartly chosen, there’s little in the way of perceptible lag too.

In fact, it’s when you drive the DSG automatic that you’ll feel the lag a bit more. Because it’s been designed to slur its way through the lower gears for a smoother take-off, you feel more of that sub-1,800rpm sluggishness from the motor. There is, of course, less of this when you tap the lever down to Sport mode and you can eliminate it altogether by selecting gears manually (again via the lever; there are no paddles), but ultimately, it’s the manual that is more fun to drive.The DSG is superb at being an automatic though. It’s smooth, clever and quick and makes matters so much more convenient in traffic. It’s hugely better than the AMT gearboxes you get in the Maruti Dzire and Tata Zest, but that does come at a premium.

Volkswagen Ameo Ride & Handling

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.As it is based on the same platform like the Polo and Vento, handling isn’t any problem. The ride is supple and smooth. Volkswagen has been improving the ride quality on its cars and the Ameo gets improved one too. The steering wheel is light and easy to drive in the city. The Highline variant gets leather wrapped steering wheel, which feels nice to grip.

Volkswagen Ameo Braking & Safety

Safety has been a big talking point amongst car buyers in India recently. Volkswagen being as German as they can be, have stuffed the Ameo with every possible active and passive safety feature that this price point deserves. Apart from the fact that you get ABS and two front airbags as a standard feature across all models, Volkswagen has also worked on strengthening the actual structure with new construction and assembly techniques like laser welding.

Volkswagen Ameo Cost in Pune

Volkswagen Ameo On-Road Price in Pune ranges from 6,34,345 to 11,59,471 for variants Ameo 1.2L MPI Petrol Trendline and Ameo 1.5L TDI Diesel Highline DSG AT respectively. Volkswagen Ameo is available in 15 variants and 5 colours. Below are details of Volkswagen Ameo variants price in Pune. Check for Ameo price in Pune at Carzprice.

Volkswagen Ameo Final Word

Apart from the car itself, what really impressed us about the petrol Ameo was that it was priced competitively, bucking VW’s tradition of premium pricing and even undercutting a few key rivals. They’ve managed to do it again with the diesel car, which too is priced in the upper middle of the segment. The only exception is the DSG Automatic, which costs a fair bit more than the equivalent Tata Zest and Maruti Dzire, both of which use cheaper AMT gearboxes. The incredibly punchy diesel motor is satisfying to drive and fixes our main criticism of the Ameo – the weak petrol engine. It makes for a superb owner-driven car, but as a family vehicle it falls a little short of rivals because of its relatively small boot and low rear seat space. If your use for these two things is minimal, however, you’ll find the Ameo TDI is a well-built, well-appointed and well-equipped compact sedan that’s now, finally, nice to drive too.

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