Volkswagen Ameo Facelift First Drive & Gearbox

Volkswagen Ameo Overview

Volkswagen Ameo is the first sub-compact sedan from the German carmaker for the Indian market offering a bunch of first in class features. Currently available only with petrol engine, the sedan derives power from the same 1.0 litre MPI engine that does duty on the Polo hatchback. Missing out on the oil burner, Volkswagen will add diesel variants to the line-up around festive season and a DSG autobox will also be introduced later on the diesel powered Ameo. Ameo not just marks Volkswagen’s foray in the competitive sub-four meter segment but it is also the first made-in-India model from the company built exclusively for the Indian market. Priced between Rs 5.24 lakh to Rs 9.32 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), Ameo is the most affordable offering from Volkswagen India. Reminiscent of the Polo hatchback, Ameo has a similar looking front profile as that of the popular B segment small car. Sublime side panels and rear add more charm to this sub-four meter sedan. Coming from the stables of Volkswagen, the cabin is packed with some of the first in segment features that bring it a notch above rivals in the populous segment. Request a test drive for Ameo in Tryaldrive

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Volkswagen Ameo Exterior & Style

The Ameo looks identical to the Polo and Vento from the front. This is a good thing since it thus gets the ‘family face’ but on the flip side I was disappointed that there’s nothing to distinguish it from other Volkswagens. There’s subtle differences though, but they are so minute, I learnt about them only during product presentations. For instance, 35mm of the Polo’s front overhang has been reduced, which enabled Volkswagen to add length to the rear, since that’s where it matters more.

So the front bumper is shorter than the Polo’s, but that’s hard to notice. Also, if you look carefully, the Ameo’s front bumper is creased above the fog lamps, which isn’t the case with the Polo. The front wheel arches and 15-inch wheels are the same as the Polo, but the car is different from the A-pillar onwards. The roofline has been lowered by 50mm to make it look proportionate to the rest of the car. Major changes obviously are the back, especially with the distinctive design of the tail lights, which along with the lines on the bootlid attempt at giving the rear a wider appearance, along with the pronounced ‘lip’ for the lid.

The rear looks more proportionate than some of the cars in the segment, particularly the Swift Dzire, though the rear could have looked sportier. There’s some interesting cues though, such as the laser welded roof which looks a lot classier than other cars, more expensive ones included. The paint has a nice even sheen to it, which gives the Ameo a more premium feel. On the whole, this is a well-executed design.

Volkswagen Ameo Interior & Space

Considering that we’re talking sedans measuring less than four metres in length space is a bit of a premium but Volkswagen has ensured they maximised interior space. The back of the front seats have been scooped out to improve rear kneeroom. I’m just an inch under six feet in height, but even with the driver seat set to my size, legroom and kneeroom at the back was decent. It is also worthwhile to mention that the Ameo’s 330-litre boot is smaller than the Honda Amaze’s 400-litre boot but the loading bay is pretty wide which means loading luggage shouldn’t be an issue.

Moving onto interiors, the Ameo sure looks more expensive than it is from the inside. Interiors are the same as the Polo, and in that sense the Ameo feels familiar, especially from behind the wheel. The clocks, flat-bottomed steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment system are all the same. What’s really nice is the arm rest for the driver, with a storage space inside. That said, the Ameo surprisingly does not a rear arm rest! The interiors feel nice overall – plastics are hard but nice to the touch and fit-finish levels are good, and switchgear quality in fact is better than some of the competitors.

The Ameo is the latest entrant to the sub 4-metre sedan party, which means Volkswagen has had a good amount of time to take a deep look at the offerings of other cars and then create its own list. And the German car maker has done just that – cramming in everything they could think to offer at the Ameo’s price. The list includes segment firsts like ABS and dual airbags as standard across the range, cruise control and rain sensing wipers to name a few.

Then there’s one touch up and down power windows on all four doors, with anti-pinch. The one touch function is something even more expensive cars don’t get for all four doors, and is a boon. Of course, the list doesn’t end at that – the Ameo also gets a rear air-conditioning vent, automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox and an auto-dimming inside rear view mirror. A lot for a sub 4-metre, budget sedan, no? In fact, with its kind of kit, the Ameo is perhaps the most feature-rich car in its segment. Apple CarPlay in the top variant in the Highline variant would have been a nice cherry on the cake though.

Volkswagen Ameo Engine & Gearbox

While the power figure is on par with that of the outgoing 1.2, there is a 15Nm drop in peak torque. Despite the torque deficit though, there is hardly any noticeable difference in overall drivability. It’s claim to fame is its lightweight aluminium architecture that translates into higher fuel efficiency. With a 0-100kmph time of 16.9s, it isn’t exactly an eager engine – far from it. But it’s forte is city commuting and lazy highway cruising. To that effect, it also gets a cruise control system which works quite well for our legal speeds. Cruising between 80-100kmph in fifth needs between 2,500-3,000rpm. At city speeds, you will often find yourself driving between 1,800-2,500rpm. The relaxed nature of the engine translates into excellent fuel economy. Our tests show almost 14kmpl in the city and over 20kmpl on the highway – which makes the Ameo 1.0 MPI a frugal runabout and more fuel efficient than the 1.2 it replaces.

Crank it up and you will instantly notice the vibrations in the pedals and a thrum at idling rpm, both of which are inherent to three-cylinder engines. The vibrations get more pronounced till 1,500rpm, after which everything smoothens out by a fair margin. Volkswagen makes this 1.0l engine in three states of tune ranging between 60PS to 116PS. The one that does duty in the Ameo resides right in between with its 75PS/95Nm output.The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and the shift gate now follows a more popular layout with the reverse gear selector slotted after the fifth. The gearbox still has a springy clutch lever which can get cumbersome in bumper to bumper traffic. The steering is light though.

Volkswagen Ameo Driving Dynamics

Suspension setup is on the firmer side, but that doesn’t really translate to a harsh ride. Volkswagen seems to have perfected the balance between ride and handling rather well here. It likes to soak in bumps well, though ride quality isn’t exactly cushy. That said, undulations aren’t really transmitted to occupants, and the Ameo offers a rather good ride on most surfaces.

What’s more, its compact dimensions mean driving or manoeuvring the Ameo around tight spots isn’t much of an ask, and to make your task easier you’ve got the convenience of a reverse camera and rear parking sensors. Add to that a steering that’s light at low speeds and you have a car that’s easy to negotiate most of your mundane stuff like parking slots in malls and city traffic with ease.

Volkswagens are known to be sporty, precise handlers and the Ameo isn’t any different. I like the feel and feedback from the steering – there’s a sense of accuracy and the wheel even weighs up slightly as you build speeds. The firmness of the suspension aids handling well too, as do the MRF ZVTV tyres. That said I would have loved to see the Ameo get the 16-inch tyres we saw on the car displayed at the Auto Expo instead of the 15-inchers our test car had.

The car does offer a predictable feel around corners and is sure footed even when pushed hard, which should help it find favour with the younger lot of buyers. The brakes offer good retardation, and hauling the Ameo down from speeds is easy. Likeable behaviour on the whole from what is supposed to be a rather inexpensive three-box saloon.

Volkswagen Ameo Braking & Safety

Safety provisions such as dual front airbags, ABS and EBD are standard across line-up. Other safety features include height adjustable head rests in front and rear, engine immobilizer, 3-point seat belts in front & rear, rear defogger, fog lamps in front & rear, anti-pinch power windows in front & rear to name a few.Volkswagen Ameo packs in some segment first features like cruise control, rain sensing vipers, anti-pinch front/rear power windows, static cornering light, single folding rear seat backrest, front/rear power windows with one-touch operation and opening and closing of windows with key remote. On the outside, the sedan gets black finished halogen headlamps, wing mirrors with integrated turn indicators, body coloured bumpers/ORVMs, chrome detailing on air-dams and chrome finished outside door handles available exclusively on the top-spec variant. Inside, it sports high quality scratch resistant dash, sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, 12V outlet on the centre console, storage compartment on front doors including bottle & cup holders, ambient lights with theatre dimming effect, leather wrapped gearshift knob and leather wrapped steering wheel among various others.

Volkswagen Ameo Cost in Bangalore

Volkswagen Ameo Ex-Showroom Price in Bangalore ranges from 5,50,665/- (Ameo 1.2L MPI Petrol Trendline) to 9,87,961/- (Ameo 1.5L TDI Diesel Highline DSG AT). Get best offers for Volkswagen Ameo from Volkswagen Dealers in Bangalore. Check for Ameo price in Bangalore at Carzprice

Volkswagen Ameo Conclusion

The Ameo on the whole is a pretty nice car, especially when you consider the equipment you get for the money you pay along with the fact that it is a Volkswagen, and is thus a very well-engineered car. Volkswagen has learnt from its previous mistakes and is offering a bucket load features this time which adds to the Ameo’s value for money quotient. Build quality and quality of materials used is pretty good, which gives the Ameo a more premium feel. What’s more, it is a familiar looking car though that’s something which works in its favour but could also be a bit of a turn off for some. Not a deal breaker though, especially since it drives well, has a good balance of ride and handling, and of course the fact that this car has been made specifically for India. A little thing to be proud of, no?

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