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Volkswagen Vento TSi— A keen driver’s car

Snapshot: Volkswagen has given its midsize sedan plenty of pep with a turbocharged petrol TSi engine. Should rivals be worried?

The Vento was launched in 2010 and managed to do decent sales numbers initially for Volkswagen (VW). However, the arrival of fresher and more stylish rivals like the Honda City and Hyundai Verna has meant that VW has struggled to move cars off showroom floors into buyer driveways in the last few quarters. However, the car maker has now decided to pump up the Vento’s appeal again by offering a turbocharged petrol engine and a seven-speed dual clutch automatic along with it. But is this sufficient to garner buyerinterest in this car again? Let’s find out.

Exterior
VW haven’t played around with any styling elements on the car. So you get the same Plain Jane looks again. You get the same rectangular headlamps, the chrome strip running in the grille and the squarish lamps at the rear. The only additions are the TSi badge, and small chrome strip on the bottom of the boot lid. Alloy wheels come as standard on this version adding to the style quotient. Though the design looks modern and sophisticated it lacks the visual appeal of its main rivals, the Honda City and the Hyundai Verna.

Interior
Just like the exterior, VW hasn’t done any major changes on the insides as well. So you get the same beige/brown combo on the dashboard along with the easy to read gauges. You also get a stereo with Bluetooth and USB. It all looks smart but again lacks the design flair of its rivals.

The seats themselves offer good cushioning and you can adjust the driver’s seat for height. This along with the rake and reach adjustment for the steering means finding a comfortable position is a cinch. The rear seats have generous cushioning too and the seat back angle is good as well. There is plenty of legroom on offer. Buyers get rear AC vents as well as a lever on the back of the front passenger seat, which can move it front or back. This feature is great for rear passengers as it helps liberate more legroom. The big boot though is well shaped and has enough space for that long weekend trip.

Engine, performance and gearbox
The highlight of the package is the engine and gearbox combo. The 1.2-litre turbocharged engine develops 103bhp and is shared with the Polo GT TSi. Like in the Polo GT, you get the normal ‘D’, and sporty ‘S’ modes along with the manual modes. However there are no paddle shifters behind the steering. In regular ‘D’, the unit is programmed to upshift at the earliest in the interests of fuel efficiency. So sometimes when you are driving in a relaxed mood the car will be doing only 60kph with the gearbox in 7th gear. The ‘S’ mode is where all the action is. The gearbox hangs onto the revs till the limit and when you brake hard it will even downshift for you. The gearbox responds really well to throttle inputs and just a dab of the accelerator is enough to shift the gears up. All in all, one of the better gearboxes at this price.

The engine in itself is brilliant for power delivery. It’s ultra-responsive and loves to be revved hard all the way to its redline. It remains smooth even as the revs mounts and the cabin always remains a quiet place.
 

Ride and handling
The Vento’s suspension doesn’t have the same stiff set-up like the Polo’s. It is supple for town travel and manages to take most potholes in its stride but does ‘thump’ rather loudly over sharp crevices. On the highway it displays good stability offering a confidence inspiring ride. But the handling isn’t as sporty as the Polo’s. The Vento has prominent body roll and doesn’t beg you to push it into corners like the Polo does. The steering though very light doesn’t have a lot of feel, which means that the Vento TSi wants to be driven sedately rather than in a sporty manner.

Safety and equipment
You get twin airbags along with anti-lock braking system (ABS) as standard kit. There are also door impact crossbars in the doors to protect in the event of a side impact. VW also offers Hill hold function, which prevents the car from rolling backwards when starting off an incline. You also get Electronic Stability Control(ESP), which helps you eliminate skidding in-case the surfaces below are gravelly. All in all, a decent kit for the price.

Competition
The Honda City petrol is the current top dog in this segment and comes loaded with equipment as well as stylish looks. The refined engine and slick constantly variable transmission (CVT) are advantages as is the Honda badge which ensures good residual values.

Summary
This is a good option for those who want a class-leading automatic gearbox and petrol engine combo in a midsize sedan. It’s easy to drive nature, comfortable ride and roomy cabin are plus points, however, most rivals are better rounded and desirable as well.

 

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