The new Volkswagen Vento: Sharpened Sophistication
The Vento gets a nifty refresh for 2015, receiving more visual zing and features to go with its immaculate engineering
The VW Vento, along with the Skoda Rapid, is arguably the most technologically accomplished machine in its segment. Boasting rock solid German engineering, segment-topping dynamics, a choice of capable petrol and diesel engines and the much lauded dual clutch DSG as the big differentiator, the Vento is for those with an evolved taste. In its 2015 avatar, the capable C-Segment car gets a design refresh, along with the addition of some new features. Here’s how VW has made this capable car even more alluring.
Price: Rs 7.8 – 11.9 lakh (ex-showroom)
Design and style
The Vento was always a handsome car. VW hasn’t tried anything radical with the design, and rightly so. The changes made to the exterior of the 2015 Vento are subtle. Styling changes are minimal, working only to give the overall package a refined visual uplift. Changes inside the cabin make an already cosy place more comfortable. To start with, VW has lent the bonnet a bit more muscle. The creases on the sides have gone deeper to give it a chiselled look. The front grille has also been re-profiled; is now bigger in size and features three horizontal chrome slats as against the twin slatted previous version. Headlamps have been left untouched, though, and carry forward the angular, smart looking and effective double barrel units from their predecessor.
At the rear, the most prominent change is the introduction of LEDs in the tail lamps, while the brake light continues to be lit by a filament
The front bumper has undergone a thorough refresh too. The area above the fog lamps now gets short creases. The air dam is wider and fog lamps taper sideways. While the earlier air-dam used to be a U-shaped space outlined by chrome, the new unit matches the horizontal theme on the grille, and has three slats running from lamp to lamp. There is also a new, wider chrome strip running through the breadth of the air-dam.
The front grille is an all-new, wider and taller unit with three prominent chrome slats running horizontally
On the sides, the car features what VW calls new wheels for the Vento, though the design is similar to the ones seen on the smaller Polo 1.5 TDI. Another change is the integration of the blinkers in the electrically folding ORVMs. Door handles are now chrome lined as another premium touch.
At the rear, the most prominent change is the introduction of LEDs in the tail lamps, while the brake light continues to be lit by a filament. The horizontal chrome-strip that earlier spanned the lip of the bootlid now sits atop the registration plate recess. The badges have been brought down in position and we don’t see the Volkswagen brand name any more. Like the front, the rear bumper too gets a short crease that underlines the tail lamp unit and a chrome strip that runs horizontally at the bottom, connecting safety reflectors at each end.
The exhaust tip which earlier was hidden neatly under the rear bumper has been extended out and now features a chrome tip. In addition to the internal boot release mechanism, the 2015 Vento also gets a soft touch boot release button above the rear registration plate.
Cruise control makes an appearance on the Vento and is quite a nifty feature as we found out during a lazy drive on the Expressway
Cabin and features
Inside the cabin, the trim colours have been altered for a fresh appeal. The 2015 VW Vento comes with a ‘Walnut Desert Beige’ interior colour theme on the Highline variant and ‘Cloud–Titanschwarz’ scheme for Trendline and Comfortline variants.
A new inclusion is Cruise Control, which works amazingly well with the DSG auto on freeways. The addition of a dead pedal to the footwell means that you’ll be even more relaxed while using that cruise control feature on an empty stretch of tarmac extending into the horizon. As another small, but important change, the glove box gets a cooling vent to keep your chocolates and that bottle of water chilled.
The rest of the cabin remains the same and, as always, is a high quality, sophisticated and functional place. Audio quality is great, quality of material is top notch and the cabin has a built-to-last air about it which very few cars can match.
Engine, transmission, performance
The 2015 Volkswagen Vento, like its predecessor, is available in both, petrol and diesel options. The oil-burner is a 1.5-litre, TDI motor that makes 105 PS of peak power and 250 NM of torque. You can either opt for a 5-speed manual, or
a smooth 7-speed DSG auto for this engine variant.
For those who don’t like the dirty fuel, a 1.2-litre TSI motor making 105 PS of power at 5000 clicks and 175 NM of twist between 1,500 – 4,100 rpm is also on offer. There’s also a 1.6 litre naturally aspirated petrol motor with 105PS and 153Nm mated with a 5-speed manual transmission.
The 1.2-litre turbo petrol unit comes with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox as the only option, loves to be revved and is an enthusiast’s delight.
All engines are capable units for the segment and don’t leave anything to complain about. The car’s immaculate engineering ensures that it masks its speed really well offering one of the best ride-handling packages in its segment.
The Vento can be fun around corners in its own way. Mechanically similar to the previous version, it is predictable,
connected, engaging and poised. Once you acknowledge the fact that it’s an everyday family sedan, the Vento impresses with what it’s capable of doing when pushed hard.
We didn’t have any complaints about the ride quality, though the occasional noise from the sharper ridges didn’t sound too pleasing at times. The ride gets better with speed, and once you are past 50-60 km/h, the Vento takes even the more unnerving undulations in its stride with aplomb.
The Vento may not have some of the more flashy items on its features list, like a fancy screen or a navigation system (though some limited edition variants do offer the feature), but what it really banks on is solid build quality, exemplary ride and handling, quality of materials, cabin comfort and capable power plants. That refined DSG is the best automatic gearbox out there and is capable of handling city traffic, or challenging switchbacks with ease.
The technology comes at a cost, though it still is comparable with the price of the top-spec offerings from the rivals.
VW service isn’t as widespread as some of the other carmakers, nor is the price of its spares cheap.
But, if you could live with that, the Vento, without doubt, is a car for the discerning buyer.
Honda has dominated the C-segment with the City for a substantial time. The lack of a diesel option brought the sales of the previous gen car down. With the new-generation City, however, Honda has made a strong comeback. The newest version looks great, has enormous space on the inside and is feature-laden too. The 1.5-litre VTEC engine is still beyond compare. The newly developed 1.5-litre diesel engine, however, is a tad too noisy for some people’s liking. The City is a segment frontrunner and with good reason.
Price: Rs 7.5 – 11.8 lakh (ex-showroom)
The Rapid is essentially the Vento under the skin, so you get the impeccable German engineering and great driving dynamics with this one as well. In the diesel version, it shares the engine and DSG transmission with the Vento, making it a fantastic option for its segment. The Rapid, however, doesn’t have the 1.2 turbo petrol unit of the Vento. It features a 1.6 litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, and doesn’t offer a DSG transmission. It’s a great buy nonetheless, though service and spares, like its VW cousin, are slightly expensive.
Price: Rs 7.5 – 11.6 lakh (ex-showroom)
Maruti Suzuki Ciaz
The SX4 couldn’t quite plant Maruti strongly enough in the C segment. With the Ciaz, however, the market leader has left no stone unturned in making a product worthy of the customers’ bucks. Big on space, comfort and size, the Ciaz has been doing well within its category. It is handsomely styled, looks premium and is priced aggressively for the segment. Backed by Maruti’s exhaustive and affordable service network, the Ciaz needs to be test driven indispensably if you are buying in this segment.
Price: Rs 7.2 – 10.3 lakh (ex-showroom)