Volkswagen first tested waters in the Indian market with the Touareg and the Beetle way back in 2007. Over time, the German automaker has attempted to appeal to the masses with the Polo and the Vento. While the hatchback was a direct fit for the Indian market from VW's international line-up, the Vento was developed for emerging markets such as India, Brazil and Russia. Produced at the automaker's facility in Chakan, Pune, Volkswagen has exported over one lakh ‘Made in India’ Ventos.
Now, Volkswagen has another trick up its sleeve. Say hello to the Ameo -- a car developed in India and most importantly, for India. Based on the same platform as the Polo, it will slot in between the hatch and the Vento. Pre-launch bookings are already underway and the car gets a cool mobile app as well. In case you are planning on buying one, check this variant-wise feature breakdown. Here's a quick recap of what you need to know to make that decision a bit more concrete.
What does it look like?
Like a Polo with a stubby boot. Right up to the C-pillar, the design is identical to the hatchback. The boot is integrated into the overall profile neatly, and it does not look like a last minute hack job. It is only when you view the Ameo dead-on from the rear that it looks slightly awkward. Our favourite elements of the design have to be the understated front profile and the clean silhouette.
How's it on the inside?
Identical to the Polo. Of course, there are minor additions that can easily be skipped if one isn't paying attention. The layout of the dashboard and the centre console remains identical. Like the hatch, the sedan too gets the lovely flat-bottom steering wheel, steering mounted controls and automatic climate control. Other goodies such as a touchscreen audio system, chilled glovebox, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control are also on offer.
Space at the rear bench is slightly better compared to the hatchback. The wheelbase is identical to the Polo, however, the rear seats seem to have better knee room. As a bonus, the Ameo also gets rear AC vents. Boot space is rated at 330-litres.
What's under the hood?
One can choose between a petrol or a diesel motor. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on either engine, and one can opt for the slick-shifting 7-speed automatic gearbox with the diesel engine. Notably, the Ameo is the only car in its class to feature a dual clutch automatic gearbox. Other diesel-automatics, such as the Zest and the Swift Dzire, employ an automated manual transmission (AMT).
The Ameo will share engines with the hatchback, and feature the 1.2-litre MPi petrol and the 1.5-litre diesel engine. The petrol engine is good for 75PS / 110Nm whereas the diesel churns out 90PS / 230Nm. We expect mileage to be in the vicinity of 16kmpl and 20kmpl respectively.
What about safety?
Just like the Polo and the Vento, the Ameo will get dual-airbags and anti-lock braking system (ABS) as standard fitment across trim levels. The VW siblings are amongst the safest cars you can buy under 10 lakh rupees. In fact, the Vento TSi scored full five-stars in the NCAP crash test.
Is it any better than its rivals?
The Ameo will go head on against the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, the Hyundai Xcent, the Honda Amaze, the Tata Zest and the Ford Figo Aspire. Volkswagen is the last entrant to this segment and it has ensured it doesn't enter the war with half an arsenal. Like we mentioned earlier, features such as cruise control, touchscreen audio, reverse camera and rain-sensing wipers are unique to the Ameo in its class. Also, if the Polo and Vento are anything to go by, we expect this one to be good to drive, with sorted dynamics as well. Check a detailed spec comparison here.
What about price?
The Ameo is expected to slot in between the Polo and the Vento. Therefore, we expect prices for the base petrol variant to start at Rs 6 lakh. The diesel variant may carry a premium of a lakh over the equivalent petrol-powered trim.
So, why should I buy one? Also, what should I be wary of?
If you are on the lookout for a well-built, well-equipped compact sedan, the Ameo fits the bill well. The core USPs of the Ameo are build quality, equipment list and on-road manners. If these score high on your must-have checklist while buying a car, head to the VW showroom.
You need to be wary of the after sales service and the maintenance costs. VW’s service network isn't as strong as Maruti or Hyundai, or even Honda for that matter, and spares are slightly on the expensive side.
Does the Ameo have what it takes to ruffle feathers of established players in the segment? We think, yes. We will be driving the Ameo in a couple of weeks, stay tuned for an in-depth review, coming soon! Meanwhile, here are our first impressions of the compact sedan.