VW Vento TSI: Tech democrat

Jan 19, 2014, 09:28 IST | Amit Chhangani

The VW Vento TSI follows its Polo sibling to bring the hitherto expensive engine and transmission technology
to yet another mainstream car segment. Amit Chhangani unravels its technological marvels

There is more than one reason why the Vento TSI is an important product for its class. It does the noble job of introducing contemporary cutting-edge tech to the segment at a good price, and in the process pushes the competition to play catch up.

The Vento 1.2 TSI engine may sound like a small unit, but its power output (rated at 103bhp) is at par with a modern 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine, and its torque output (175 Nm) outclasses some of the bigger power plants. The new TSI or Turbo Stratified Injection engine range from VW group focusses on downsizing engines, without compromising on power and improving fuel efficiency along with reduced emissions. To achieve the feat, the tech fuses direct injection technology with turbocharging. Fuel is injected at high pressures inside the combustion chamber using injection technology for efficient combustion, and then is literally given a ‘boost’ with help of a turbocharger. We'll discuss the real world implications of that combo in a bit.

In terms of fuel efficiency, with a light foot, the Vento TSI delivers a figure of 10.5 kmpl within the city. On the highway, the count went up to 13.5 kmpl with moderate driving. The ARAI figure for the car is 16.9 kmpl though.

The Vento is the first sub R10 lakh (ex-showroom) sedan (not hatch) to be equipped with the delightful DSG dual clutch auto transmission. For the uninitiated, the DSG transmission is the gold standard in terms of quickness, precision and smoothness of gearshifts when it comes to mainstream automobiles. Though the reliability of the unit has sometimes been questioned on some Skoda units, there is no doubt about the superior performance of this transmission. DSG does away with the vices of a conventional single clutch auto box or a CVT. It doesn't have any shift delay, or what's popularly known as the 'rubber band effect' — essentially the lag between throttle input and the shift. In DSG's scheme of things, there are twin clutches, handling odd and even gears. So while one clutch in engaged in 3rd gear, another has 2nd and 4th covered, in case you wish to down, or up shift. You can choose between the basic 'Drive', the fervent 'Sport' or the fully controllable 'Manual' mode depending on your mood and
driving style.

Drive, handling and ride
The big talking point about the new engine is its abundant torque, available between a wide rev band of 1500 and 4100 rpm. All that twist available from such a low engine speed endows the Vento with an excellent mid-range punch, which makes overtaking incredibly effortless. The engine performance at low revs is also commendable, making the Vento a fabulous car to use within the clogged streets of Indian metros. The engine is silent at low revs, but emanates a sporty growl after crossing 3000 rpm. Top speed is well above 180 km/h.

As regards handling, the Vento outscores its Korean and Japanese counterparts. In absolute terms, we expect a bit more from German cars, being used to the solidity exhibited by the bigger Teutonic (or even Czech) machines. The steering is light at low speeds for easy maneuverability and tightens up with speed, though it could have done with a bit more feel. The Vento remains unflustered at high speeds in a straight line and inspires a lot of confidence.

Around corners, the Vento is predictable. We didn’t have any qualms about the ride quality, though the occasional noise from the sharper ridges didn’t sound too pleasing. The ride gets better with speed, and once you are past 50-60 km/h, the Vento takes even rough roads in its stride.

Features and equipment
The alloys on the car are different, and look quite nice. There is additional chrome around the fog lamp inserts and on the boot lid. In terms of features, you get two very useful additions in the form of an Electronic Stability Program for better active safety and Hill Hold Assist, for easy take offs from a standstill on steeper slopes. The TSI is available in only one, top of the line trim, with all the bells and whistles. The interior is well equipped, with leatherette upholstery, parking sensors, twin airbags, climate control, a neat sounding audio with all the connectivity features and quite a few other goodies.

At R9.99 lakh ex-showroom the Vento TSI’s OTR price translates to about R11.5 lakh in Mumbai. For a well equipped C-segment sedan with an advanced automatic transmission, it doesn’t get any fairer than that. It is a well-specced car, is spacious, good to drive, and comes with technology which is a cut above its competition. The Vento TSI makes a compelling case for itself at that price, especially for those who value solid engineering. Give this one a good thought if you’re looking for a petrol automatic for R10 lakh or thereabouts.

Price : Rs 9.99 lakh ex showroom
Engine: 1.2 TSI petrol
Transmssion : 7 speed DSG auto
Power : 103 bhp @ 5000 rpm
Torque : 175 NM @ 1500 - 4100 rpm
Top speed : 180 + km/h

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