After a late entry into the compact sedan space, Volkswagen has stepped up the game with a twin-clutch automatic turbo-diesel version of the Ameo
The sub-four-metre compact sedan space has had several names from across the globe setting up shop in India for a specific requirement. Yet, when it came down to the game, everyone had one standard strategy. How far can you get playing the same moves over and over again? Enter VW and their DSG.
India-specific 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine makes a healthy 110 PS and 250 Nm. Pic/Aditya Dhiwar
Less than a year after launching the India-specific Ameo, Volkswagen has followed it up with a variant we were hoping for: a potent TDI turbo-diesel. And, not just any turbo-diesel, this is a new 110-PS/250-Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, made specifically for the Indian market. It's available with a manual transmission as well as with a double-clutch gearbox, which, in simple Volkswagen terms, is their Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).
Quality cabin, and an excellent twin-clutch automatic gearbox. Pic/Aditya Dhiwar
When you have a sub-1.2-tonne four-door sedan, 110 PS is a lot of power and the 250 Nm of torque is more than some executive saloons made not a few years ago. The styling is no different. It's identical to the Ameo we tested last year, save for the 'TDI' badge. The 'Highline' trim we have here costs Rs 9.21 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune) and that's good value considering the build quality and the stringent processes the Ameo goes through. Laser-welded roof, solid doors, heavy metal, well-made interior and a host of safety features — anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, hill-hold control, and airbags — considered, it's a sweet deal for what is still high six figures (for the Comfortline) and a few rolls over Rs 10 lakh for the Highline on the road; with the DSG box, of course.
Rear air-vents are a welcome addition and help maintain cool. Pic/Aditya Dhiwar
Inside, the biggest change is the gear lever and the two-pedal layout. With the number of vehicles on the road heading north and traffic sense going far south, the need for convenient automatics has become evident and more people are biting into the pie. The Ameo's bootless, twin-clutch-auto petrol sibling, the Polo GT TSI, has seen a substantial increase in road presence over the past year or so. Why? Convenience? Efficiency? Practicality? If this was an MCQ, the answer would be the last box that says 'All of the above'.
The Ameo gets standard ABS and dual front airbags even in the base petrol Trendline. The Highline DSG packs 15-inch alloy wheels with 185/65 tubeless radials along with an electronic stability programme and hill-hold control, besides the regular typically German safety features. A lot of people don't realise that in Europe, the USA and several other markets, a car cannot be sold without ABS, traction control, and six airbags. Those are the minimum safety requirements.
Compact it may be but it offers a 330-litre boot volume. Pic/Aditya Dhiwar
With a feature-list the same as the petrol Highline, the Ameo TDI DSG gets the auto-climate, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and anti-pinch windows. Now, rear a-c vents are also present. The seats are accommodating, with adjustable headrests front and rear, and the space is more than sufficient for an average family. The 330-litre boot is spacious and offers a wide open loading area, while the folding rear seat adds to flexibility.
The big change here is the driveline. The all-new 1.5-litre TDI engine now puts out 110 PS at 4,000 rpm and 250 Nm of peak torque — matching VW's old 2.0-litre engine.
The addition of the seven-speed DSG auto box translates into quick, seamless shifts at precisely the right times, imperceptible when cruising, and much appreciated when driving spiritedly. Front-wheel-drive it may be, but it's a reasonably quick car.
The Ameo TDI DSG doesn't really launch, with the engine going on strike after we left-footed the brake and prodded the other pedal. Even so, step on it and it will do the 0-100 km/h sprint in 12 seconds and go on to 165 km/h. It's quick through the gears and speed climbs fast.
Turn in smoothly or tightly and the Ameo responds. The chopped steering wheel feels sporty and the responsive engine, gearbox and dynamics add more to the equation. It's fun and relaxing at the same time. The brakes are a pair each of discs and drums but they terminate speed without a fuss — 100 km/h to standstill takes 2.8 seconds and 33 metres. With the ESP acting on, there is no wavering of car body or driver confidence at all.
It's an affordable car for someone looking for a quality family sedan, which is well built and frugal. The Ameo returned more than 16 km/l in the city and 21 km/l on the highway, for an overall 17.6 km/l. Pair that to the 45-litre tank and you're looking at a range of nearly 800 km.
There aren't too many cars that can hold a candle to the Ameo. It's a solid car that meets varied requirements and delivers the goods when and where it matters. They've stepped up, and they're a step ahead of the game. The only reason not to buy one is if you want that Vento TSI DSG turbo-petrol.
Volkswagen Ameo TDI Highline DSG