Volkswagen, as a brand, has been perceived as the best-suited example of subtle and sophisticated German engineering. The largest car maker of the world has been building cars for India which are loved by all kind of consumers. But the Indian car market is a hard nut to crack, and in the wake of ‘Chevy’ ending its Indian operations, all brand including ‘Volkswagen’ had to revise its plans for the market.
Introduction of a smaller engine in Ameo is a clear sign that Volkswagen wants to become people’s brand, it wants to be more accessible to the crowd. And recently we took the new Ameo 1.0-litre for a quick test drive to find out if the smaller engine can make it a bigger car for the general Indian audience.
To start off, the only major change in the car lies is in its engine department, rest it carries exactly the same details as seen on the previous 1.2-litre model. And it still has the looks to awe the on-lookers with its clean and sharp design.
On the inside, the cabin remains as seen on the earlier model which means it comes with the same dual clock instrument panel, seats and dashboard material. The cabin gets the dual-tone treatment and the seats are very comfortable because there's a good amount of back and under thigh support.
"The Highline Plus model comes with a center armrest up front and it is however oddly placed."
Being the top spec model you also get a touchscreen infotainment system which is Apple Carplay and Android Auto enabled.
There's also a reverse parking camera and rain sensing wipers but what's missing from the package though is a Navigation system. In terms of safety features, the Ameo gets ABS and dual airbags as standard.
The space at the rear seats is decent for two passengers but fitting in the third occupant might prove to be bit of a squeeze. There is just about adequate leg space at the back but there is enough headroom for tall passengers. Also, there is a rear AC vent which keeps the cabin cooled when needed. The transmission tunnel hump at the back is visible but that’s nothing to complain of.
The only significant change, when compared to the earlier model, is under its hood. It runs on a smaller 1-litre engine which churns out 75bhp of maximum power and 95Nm of peak torque. The power figures are the same but the torque is down by almost 15 Nm (1.2-litre model generated 110Nm of peak torque). There is no automatic gearbox option available and the car we drove came with a 5-speed manual transmission which is slick and precise to use. The transmission slots in well and doesn’t require much effort to shift.
Now coming on to its experience, it is undoubtedly a smooth unit and barely whispers at idle. It pulls off cleanly from as low at 1500rpm and the low-end response is peppy enough for the daily city drives. The engine has decent pull even at lower revs, and the delivery is progressive as the revs climb up.
But at the same time, you wouldn’t really want to push it around because it’s not the engine with a sense of urgency and it doesn’t really like to be hurried. But it is perhaps a very friendly unit which likes to be driven in a sedate, comfortable manner, delivering promising fuel efficiency figures.
The steering response, however, remains as good as it has always been on the Ameo. It has a nice weight to it and makes the driver feel confident even when hugging fast corners.
The NVH levels are well under control for a car of its size, and even when doing fast highway speeds, the cabin remains a well-insulated place from whatever’s happening outside. It is only when the engine is revved hard that you hear its whining and also some vibrations are felt from pedals, floorboards but that’s nothing to complain of.
The ride, on the other hand, is comfortable and reassuring. The suspension has been tuned to deal with all major undulations the city roads can throw at it, and out there on the highway it rides with confidence and composure, sticking on to the ground like a car with good driving dynamics should.
Also, the brakes are fantastic, to say the least. The car stops in no time, and the braking power is enough for a car of its size. The brakes have a progressive feel to it and work well even when used at high speeds.
The Volkswagen Ameo is a nicely built car, it is feature loaded and has always been known for its quality and safety. The addition of the new engine which is friendly, refined and fuel-efficient, makes the package more accessible and at par with its biggest rivals in the segment.
Photography - Mohd. Nasir