The mid-size sedan category can get hugely competitive. Cars like Honda City and Maruti Suzuki Ciaz are head and shoulders above the likes of the Hyundai Verna, Fiat Linea and Ford Fiesta in terms of sales numbers. But Volkswagen now wants to get back onto the buyers' radar. Known to manufacture some of the poshest cars across the globe, the German powerhouse has given its mid-size sedan, the VW Vento a mild makeover.
For our review, we tested the Volkswagen Vento 1.5 TDI diesel variant, which happens to be the top-end variant in the model line-up.
The facelifted Vento comes with lots of chrome work on the exteriors that makes it look alluring. Key styling changes include the a redesigned bumper with wide air dam, revamped radiator grille and headlight cluster. The front fascia also gets a couple of chrome plated slats. On the side, one can easily notice a brand new set of alloy wheels fitted in well crafted wheel arches. On the rear, the Vento gets striking taillight cluster, chrome on trunk and expressive boot. Although the exteriors are reworked, we feel the sedan is still plain-jane and could easily lose to striking looks of Ford Fiesta or sportier Honda City.
While the exteriors have been worked upon minutely, VW has been insightful enough not to touch the interiors of the Vento much. The cabin quality of the Vento is second to none and can make rivals look ordinary in terms of material quality. Build quality is top-notch and one can't resist noticing the neatly laid out central console. This interior would do justice on a car at a higher price point as well. Key styling elements include a flat bottom steering wheel with piano black detailing and the central console with matte black finish.
Apart from the neatly laid out cabin, the Vento gets well cushioned seats with adjustable head restraints. The leg room is adequate both in the front and at the back and so is the headroom. Utilities like cup holders, folding coat hooks on the grab handles, front seat back pockets, storage compartment in front, and front and rear center armrest makes it a perfect sedan in all.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Like mentioned above, we drove the top-of the line 1.5 TDI with the 7-speed DSG gearbox. To give you a brief insight on what is a DSG gearbox is - DSG means the Dual shift gearbox which means it has two clutches that engage differently for odd gears like 1,3,5 and even gears like 2,4. This helps the transmission to reduce any lag and improve efficiency.
The 1.5 TDI model comes with a 1498cc unit that churns out 103.5bhp power at 4400rpm and a peak torque output of 250Nm between 1500 to 2500rpm. The DSG gearbox comes with two drive modes - a normal ‘D’, and sporty ‘S’ mode. To maintain the fuel efficiency, the 'D' mode shifts as early as it can, leaving you desiring for more if you want to stretch your legs and push the car to its rev limits. And this is where the ‘S’ mode comes - press the pedal hard and the gearbox will hang onto till it reaches its rev limit.
While it may not be as responsive and quick as its petrol sibling, it is definitely of the industry's best.
Ride and Handling
This is where the things go rather interesting with the Vento. While the suspension is not as stiff as the Polo's, it is no match to Honda's or Hyundai's ride comfort in the city. It has a tendency to thump loudly while going over the potholes. The sedan is definitely not a driver's car and is meant for chauffeur or a less enthusiast person and the main reason is the prominent body roll it has during sharp corners.
The steering on the other hand is light and nimble. On the highway the steering feels heavier as speeds build, but it still can't match the feel of the Ford Fiesta’s steering wheel. The front axle comes with the McPherson struts, equipped with a stabilizer bar, while the rear axle gets a semi independent trailing arm type of mechanism.
Safety and Equipment
While the Vento gets ABS and airbags as standard in the top-end variants, it is what's inside that excites us. An advanced engine immobilizer with floating code ensures that there is no unauthorized entry into the car. To minimize the damage during a collision, all the four power windows gets the pinch guard safety to enhance along with the airbags
The glove box comes with a cooling effect, steering wheel is leather wrapped any many other sophisticated features. It has a Climatronic automatic air conditioning unit that filters out dust and pollen, while the rear AC vents maintains the cabin air. The 2-din audio system comes with USB, Aux-in and MMC slots with a bluetooth connectivity.
It goes without saying that Volkswagen is one of the most desirable brand across the globe and in India too. The Vento is a capable sedan with exceptional interiors and built quality. Though as a package it still can't match the proposition offered from rivals like Honda, Maruti or Hyundai. If only you are looking for a classy midsize car, which offers a punchy diesel engine and peace of mind driving manners, then look no further.