In a bid to stay on the midsize car buyers radar, VW have recently upgraded their Vento sedan. Though the changes are minor and largely cosmetic in nature, they do go a long way in ensuring that the Vento becomes better value in face of stiff competition, especially the likes of the Maruti Ciaz, which is a best-seller from Maruti at the moment. And for our review, we compared the petrol variants of both the cars, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz Zxi+ and the Volkswagen Vento 1.6 petrol.
The Ciaz has been around for a year now but still manages to turn heads. The car looks styling from the front with its large chrome grille and nicely sculpted head lamps but the rear is a clear copy of the Honda City. The generous wheelbase ensures that the Ciaz looks like it is from a class higher, and that’s always a good thing. Although the rear profile reminds of the Honda City, the black plastic mesh on the either sides and sharp taillights gives it a distinctive look. Overall, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz look every bit premium and upmarket.
The Vento on the other end fails to excite. The new bumper and grille do give it an upmarket and sophisticated look. The rear tail lamps now mimic the looks of an LED cluster. The Vento manages to look like a miniature version of the much bigger Passat luxury car. But the Vento looks a bit boring as well. The Volkswagen Vento however, doesn't feel as premium and spacious from exteriors as the Ciaz.
While looks can be subjective, it's the interiors that make the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz a much more premium place to be in, especially when compared to the Vento. Spend some time in the cabin, and you will be forgotten for thinking that you are in a luxury sedan and not a midsize one. Maruti has used high-quality plastics for the dashboard, a smooth beige below, while a faux wood garnish to complete the finish. The front seats are generous on cushioning comfortable, a forte of Maruti, and the legroom in the rear seats is brilliant as well. The highlight is the 7-inch display, which is similar to an i-pad and very easy to operate.
Volkswagen is known to bestow best cabins in terms of fit-and-finish in their cars and the Vento is no different. While the quality and materials used are top notch, a flat bottom steering and matte black central console makes it even more plush. The seats are well cushioned while there is adequate leg room, both in the front and at the back. That said, the Vento’s design does look a bit boring and it doesn’t feel like a very special place to be in.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
The Ciaz comes powered by a 1.4-litre K-series engine from Maruti Suzuki. It instantly impresses for refinement as well as quietness. The motor gives you an output of 94 bhp and 130 Nm of torque. Maruti claims an efficiency of 20.73 kmpl and it's mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox is a delight to operate with crisp and light throws. Performance is adequate but nothing to write home about. Response to throttle inputs is a bit weak in the lower part of the rev band but once the revs pick up, performance is very good.
Speaking of Vento, VW has installed three engine options in the new Vento, out of which we drove the 1.6 MPI. The naturally aspirated 1598 cc engine produces 103 bhp of power and 153 Nm of torque. It comes mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox and VW claims an efficiency of 16.09 kmpl. The engine delivers quite peppy performance and simply loves to be revved hard. Even when revved, it remains largely quiet and maintains the calm inside the cabin.
Ride and Handling
Maruti Suzuki engineers are the masters of suspension tuning and the Ciaz is the best in this segment. It has a very cosseting ride and the suspension is very well setup. The 170mm ground clearance ensures that you take it over the worst of patchworked roads with minimum fuss and the biggest speed-breakers don’t have any issues with the car. The steering wheel is responsive enough for most needs.
The VW Vento has a stiff suspension setup compared to the Ciaz, and as soon as you hit a sharp crevice, the suspension throw a loud ‘thump’. That said, the Vento is the better car for those long highway trips, with stability and composure being brilliant. The steering is light and nimble and offers good feedback as well. The Vento is the better choice for keener drivers.
Safety and Equipment
In terms of safety, the Ciaz gets two airbags, ABS and EBD in top-end models. In terms of equipment, the Ciaz is loaded with a touchscreen infotainment system that works as a music system too. Navigation is not there, but you can purchase a pre-loaded chip to use the navigation data. The Ciaz also gets and automatic climate control and steering mounted controls. Though, a cool glove box could have been an advantage.
The Vento on the other hand, gets a pinch guard safety system along with the airbags and ABS. In terms of the equipment, the Vento gets a glove box that comes with a cooling effect, Climatronic automatic air conditioning unit that filters out dust and pollen, and a 2-din audio system that has a Bluetooth connectivity.
While the new Vento does impress us with its classy interior and creamy petrol engine, it is the Ciaz which offers a more rounded package. The Maruti Suzuki network is second to none when it comes to peace of mind and that along with the Ciaz’s roomy cabin and exhaustive list of features makes it the better car here.