Completing the German triplet is the Volkswagen group with their range of cars. Volkswagen in India now have an enviable range than what it had a few years back. It is a known fact that two of the brands in the Surat Convention Center arena have Volkswagen as their parent company and here I am referring to Skoda and Audi. Here the participating dealer was Navjivan Autosquare Pvt Ltd which is based in Surat and two sales personnel namely Vinay Patel as also Mitesh Rohit paid heed to our press credentials. Then as they say, the going on was really smooth. Vinay Patel personally unlocked all the cars for us and the moment we sat inside, we were asked to lock the doors from inside. The reason being that he didn’t want to disappoint the waiting people outside as also didn’t want us to be distracted time and again. One safety feature in Volkswagen cars is that once the central locking is applied, individual passengers can unlock the doors if they want however people outside the car cannot unlock the doors.
The small car from Volkswagen, the Volkswagen Beetle, the cutsey bug, was the first car to be unlocked for us. No sooner had we unlocked the car, people started thronging around us wanting to have a look at the interiors and have a feel however Vinay very politely but firmly told them that they cannot get inside the car. The steptronic transmission of this car with that long gear lever is something which you usually don’t find in small hatches but then this is Volkswagen for you. Surprisingly even though I am a 6 footer, the “Bug” could accommodate my large frame. The dash though a bit bland was made of high quality materials. The large faced speedo with the inbuilt tachometer and other gauges is a novelty in itself. Storage spaces though few were well built. Surprisingly my colleague, Chetan, could make room for himself at the rear easily. Well but this bug costs Rs 25 lakhs on-road. Inspite on reservations on its boot space, it turned out to be highly spacious.
Next up was the wonder car for Volkswagen India, the Volkswagen Vento. This was the Highline Volkswagen Vento automatic with the 1.6 liter petrol engine. There isn’t too much of a difference when viewed from ahead for the Vento and the Polo. That is strictly not only for the looks. Inside as well, the theme has been carried forward. The Vento, though, seems a bit of problem for tall drivers. Typical Volkswagen switchgear can be found in this car as also the steptronic transmission. Rear seat space however is good with an almost flat floor. The AC deserves a special mention as this cools the cabin within no time. The dual zone climatronic climate control system works fabulously. Boot space is also cavernous.
The Volkswagen Polo was one car which I was eager to check out since this car has been widely criticized for being not so spacious at the rear. Front seat could accommodate my frame a bit more easily than what the Vento could. Strange! The Polo however doesn’t get climate control and as they say, everything is shared with the Vento to keep costs down. This one also gets a 1.6 liter engine but with manual transmission. Yes, the car displayed was the Polo 1.6. Rear seat space was something which even Chetan (being a 5ft 6 personality) chided in the Polo. Fitting me in was almost akin to me trying to get inside the rear seat of a Maruti Alto. Boot space was a bit of disappointment in this car.
Now comes the newest baby in the Volkswagen lineup and that is the 2011 Volkswagen Passat. This model is the same as the one sold in US. However the Indian version doesn’t get the much spoken about and patented boot which actually opens when one just waves their foot underneath it, provided that the key is in the pocket. The 2011 Volkswagen Passat in India however retains most of the features from the US model and this means that we get the lane as also parallel parking system, leather seats with small fans at the sides to cool the region near the back bone, rain sensing wipers, blind spot detection and many more features. I absolutely loved that retro clock on the wood band running across the central console. The dual zone climate control system was even more quicker than the one in the Vento. Moreover the bi-xenon cornering lamps, a must feature in all the cars, are also a good addition to the list of features. I must say that the rear seats are absolutely fantastic and a real steal at this price. Boot space is also huge and can even be accessed from the rear seats. There is also a pass through which can be revealed via the rear arm rest.
Now comes the turn of the Volkswagen Jetta, a car which brought many into the Volkswagen fold in India however then later on sales fizzled out. Vinay gave us a bit of a startling news when he said that the company is no longer manufacturing the 1.9 Tdi or either the 1.6 liter petrol. It is now only the 2.0 liter Tdi motor soldering on till the new Jetta replaces the old fleet. This one is being offered with the choice of a manual transmission now. The meter dials feel a bit retro whereas the fonts for the radio and dual zone climate control system also mirror this same theme. There is no doubt about the quality of materials used but wish that Volkswagen would have made it more enticing to look at. There are 6 air bags to protect one in the event of a crash. A 6 CD changer system takes care of entertainment duties. Boot space is huge plus there is a full size spare alloy wheel in there. Impressive enough.