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Volkswagen Vento Tdi test drive







Volkswagen group have a lofty ambition of becoming the  number1 car manufacturer across the world by 2016. This might seem a bit too ambitious for the rest of the world however people at Ingolstadt are more than determined to make it happen. Topmost on their list is the fact that they have to capture at least 16% of the burgeoning and second to China, the Indian market. Now, any manufacturer worth its salt would bet that making a brand image is a pre-requisite and thereafter the road is somewhat smooth towards the road to progress. Volkswagen Group did just that by sending their sister concern, Skoda Auto to India first. After Skoda Auto established base, it was the turn of the more up market Volkswagen Auto dubbed Volkswagen India to make their entry. Apart from the launch of the luxurious Volkswagen Jetta, they launched several other models. However they plan on capturing the upper C segment which is currently dominated by Honda City and for this, they have launched the booted version of the Polo called, the Volkswagen Vento Tdi.

Looks

Now, for the world, the Volkswagen Vento Tdi may be just a Polo slapped on with a boot however Volkswagen India claims that the Vento is an all-new grounds up car and introduced for the first time across the world in India. Looking heads on, the Volkswagen India group’s claims are entirely wrong. You would be hard pressed to notice the difference between its donor cousin and the Volkswagen Vento Tdi. The eagle eyed would notice that the bigger Volkswagen has a different fog lamp arrangement as well as a lower air dam. Volkswagen India has stuck to the adage that “if it ain’t broken, why fix it”.


The Teutonic looks of the VW Vento Tdi reminds one of the something solid as well as long lasting. The sides show the extended length of the Volkswagen Vento Tdi and riding on 15 inch alloy wheels, the topmost variant, the Highline looks quite stately. To distinguish it from the Polo, they could have tapped on the side indicators into the ORVMs. The wheel base of the Polo has been stretched to 96mm to accommodate the length of the Vento.

The rear end looks typically German and especially one from the Volkswagen India group. The tail lamps have been re-arranged a bit from those on the Polo’s. A first for Volkswagen India, the Volkswagen Vento Tdi features the entire Volkswagen name as a badge. The shut lines are even and you cannot tell that this is a Polo with a boot. The boot is spacious at 485 liters and loading or unloading heavy articles isn’t a problem. There is minimum suspension strut intrusion. The inside of the boot area is lined evenly with velvet and such small touches makes the Volkswagen Vento Tdi a special car than the others in its competition. However there are some gray areas noticeably that there is no remote boot release and one has to open the boot hatch with a key. I sorely missed the Polo’s feature where you can easily depress the big Volkswagen logo and the boot opens. This quirk becomes all the more apparent when you are hands are full of shopping bags and you have to fish for the keys somewhere deep down. A tad inconvenient.

Interiors

Open the doors{they have those tank like shut sound} and you would notice a cabin made of beige and one similar to the Polo’s. Gosh!how many times do I have to mention the word Polo? Did you notice it? Obviously, you must have. The reason for it is because the Volkswagen Vento Tdi is a built for price car and thus has to share many of its components with the smaller car{no, I am not taking any more of the Polo’s name}.The dashboard materials are made of the same durable materials as found in other Volkswagen India cars. As with any other Volkswagen group cars, fit and finish is top notch. A special variety of cloth called as Livon has been used to design the Volkswagen Vento Tdi’s seats. The purposefulness of this is that it makes one comfortable and doesn’t give you a sore bump over long rides. The front seats are very supportive and adjust to the contours of the body well.

The steering wheel is the same unit as from its smaller sibling{see, I am not taking any more of that name}. However Volkswagen India could have done well to give the Volkswagen Vento Tdi steering mounted audio controls. Speaking of audio controls reminds me that the lower specced Volkswagen Vento Trendline makes do without one. The Volkswagen Vento Highline is the one that gets all the bells and whistles. There is a arm rest for the driver which doubles up as a storage space, should you not feel the need for resting your arm.The glove box in the Volkswagen Vento Tdi was one of the biggest that we noticed. It has double compartments and should store many of your things in it. One thing, I noticed was that the aircon at full blow is very noisy much like the ones on an Indigo Manza.

There is no central locking in the Volkswagen Vento Tdi nor do the doors automatically lock once the car is in excess of speeds above 20 kmph. The driver or the chauffer is left to do the chores of locking the car through a rotary knob on his side. Conspicuous by its absence is the door open warning. The Multi Information Display {MID} has a variety of information like the usual odometer reading, distance traveled, instant mileage, time and outside temperature and a gear shift indicator. The gear shifter unit is a straight lift from the smaller car and now has chrome inserts in it. There are cup holders as well as many storage spaces all around.

The rear seats have more space than the platform car and this shows. 6 footers would be quite comfortable in the Volkswagen Vento Tdi’s rear seats. A convenient feature is that the front seats can be pushed ahead by the rear passenger with the help of a lever. The Volkswagen Vento Tdi offers rear AC vents{the Fiat Linea is the other one in this segment to offer those}. The rear seats could do more with a bit of a recline though. Overall, the cabin is a good place to be, airy because of the big windows etc.

Handling and ride quality

The Volkswagen Vento Tdi uses the traditional set up found in Volkswagen cars. The front has McPherson strut layout whereas the rear uses semi-independent trailing arm. The ride is slightly on the firmer side but not entirely sports car like. The Volkswagen Vento Tdi exhibits the same poise as its smaller brethren. It means that you don’t slow down for pot holes or speed breakers. You just glide over them. It can be safely said that the suspension takes every obstacle in its stride. The 185/60 – R15 tyres section tyres also contribute immensely for the road grip of the Volkswagen.

The handling is where the Volkswagen Vento Tdi excels in. It grips and then grips some more on those chunky wheels. The Vento likes curvy roads. You are informed of its limits well in advance and there are no tail sliding antics that would unsettle you. The steering is a hydraulic power assisted one. However it is the only let down in this excellent ride and handling package. It feels overservoed. In the city, it is good news because there is not much effort required to navigate through traffic. On the highway, the steering feels vague and intent on doing its own jig. That saying, the Volkswagen Vento Tdi is quite stable at speeds of over 150 kmph. The maximum, I could whip this car was upto a speedometer claimed 185 kmp before we ran out of road. Even at this high speeds, there was next to none road or wind noise.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Volkswagen India have nicely weighed their options before launching the Volkswagen Vento car in India. They have both a petrol as well as diesel unit on offer. Plus both automatic as well as manual gear box options. Since I have driven the Volkswagen Vento Tdi, I would concentrate more on the diesel motor and leave the petrol for some other day. Now, this is a grounds up new motor from the Volkswagen India group. The 1.6 liter motor makes 104 BHP (@ 4,300 rpm and makes 250 NM of torque between 1,500 – 2,600 rpm. This figures mated with a slick shifting 5 speed unit{you know where it came from} allows the Volkswagen Vento Tdi to race from 0-100 in a scant 11.3 seconds. This means that it eats both the Fiat Line multijet as well as Hyundai Verna Crdi motor for lunch. Wheel spinning antics in first gear are quite common on the Volkswagen Vento Tdi. Who says that you cannot have fun with diesels, need to sample modern day diesel cars.

Heavy use of sound deadening materials means that the Volkswagen Vento Tdi is quite silent in its operation. The well spaced out gear ratios ensure optimum torque throughout the rev range. This is one eager diesel motor and revs quite smoothly to its rev limiter. The MID informs you when to shift gears to be in the correct rev range and to eke maximum fuel efficiency as well as performance from the motor. Alas, there is no automatic transmission on offer for the diesel motor. The 6 speed automatic is only for the petrol engine. Volkswagen India may bring the automatic tranny into the diesel later on depending on the demand for the same.

Reversing chores are pretty much hard with the high set head rests{they are non adjustable} and unavailability of auto dimming inside rear view mirror. Volkswagen group could have done well to offer reverse camera as an option. The electrically adjustable outside rear view mirrors do help in the reversing chores immensely. Disc brakes at the front and drums for the rear do duties on the braking front. This work perfect on the Volkswagen Vento Tdi and bring the car to a halt safely. Pedal modulation is also good however I did notice some nose diving from the heavy diesel motor upfront during hard braking manouevers. The brakes are assisted by 4 channel ABS and EBD. These are only available in the VW Vento Tdi highline that I tested.

Safety is another important aspect that Volkswagen India Group seem to have left out on in the name of cost cutting.There are 3 point ELR seat belts for all 5 passengers, a collapsible steering wheel and two air bags on our Highline variant. The Trendline makes do with 3 point ELR seat belts for all 5 passengers and a collapsible steering wheel.

Fuel efficiency of the Volkswagen Vento Tdi was paramount for Volkswagen India if they were to compete in this segment. The new Volkswagen Vento Tdi Highline gives 14.48 kmpl in the city and a highish 20.4 kmpl on the highway. An overall figure of 17.44 kmpl is astonishing in this segment and couple this with the low running cost for the diesel and you would be a happy person at the fuel filling station.

Verdict

Volkswagen Vento Tdi is good actually the best competition for the upper C segment diesel cars. It has good traditional German looks, sturdy body and chassis, nice interiors as well as good choice of engine and fuel efficiency to boot for. It is a hoot to drive as well. There are some quirks present like the missing steering mounted audio controls, absence of 60:40 split rear seats, some essential safety features and transmission tunnel intrusion for the rear seat passenger in middle.However these are some things which can be over looked looking at the qualities of the Volkswagen Vento Tdi. Couple this with its starting price of Rs.7.99 lakhs {ex-Delhi showroom} for the VW Vento Tdi Trendline and going upto Rs 9.23 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi) for the Volkswagen Vento Tdi Highline and you have a pretty value for money car with the VW badge.

Technical Specifications of the Volkswagen Vento Tdi Highline

  • Engine Description: 1.6L CR TDI In-line
  • Engine Type: In-Line Engine 4 cylinder
  • Engine Displacement: 1,598 cc
  • Valves per Cylinder: 4
  • Valve Configuration: DOHC
  • Fuel Supply System: CRDI
  • Maximum Power: 105 Bhp @ 4,300 rpm
  • Maximum Torque: 25@ 1,500-2,500 (kgm@rpm)
  • Transmission Type: Manual
  • Gearbox: 5 Speed
  • Front Suspension: McPherson strut with stabiliser bar
  • Rear Suspension: Stabiliser bar with Semi-independent trailing arm
  • SteeringType: Hydraulic Power
  • Steering Column: Rack and pinion, Tilt & Telescopic
  • Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.3 m
  • Front Brake Type: Disc
  • Rear Brake Type: Drum
  • Top Speed: 185 kmph
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 57 litres
  • Tyre Size: 185/60 R 15
  • Alloy Wheel Size
  • Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial
  • Length: 4,384 mm
  • Width: 1,698 mm
  • Height: 1,467 mm
  • Ground Clearance: 168 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,553 mm
  • Kerb Weight: 1,230 kg
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