Volkswagen Ameo Review
Volkswagen Ameo – Click above for high resolution image gallery

Volkswagen Ameo Review

Car Tested: Volkswagen Ameo; Road Test No. 712

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6.10 – Rs. 8.19 lakhs

The Volkswagen Ameo isn’t much different from its siblings but will surely appeal to CS lovers

Volkswagen entered India more than 7 years back but initially they offered only premium vehicles in the country. Later on, the company started offering the Polo and Vento which are locally made products, targeted towards mass-market segments. The Polo and Vento brought in decent sales but they were still far lower than expectations. Volkswagen has now come up with a new product which is made solely for India and it is positioned in the crowded compact sedan segment, competing with a lot of established rivals. The Ameo is based on the Polo hatchback and here’s how it fares.

Motor Quest: The Ameo is the first Volkswagen car tailor made for India and was first showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo, following a launch earlier this month. It is based on the Polo.

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The Volkswagen Ameo isn’t at all different from the Polo from the front

Exteriors – Compact sedans have never looked extraordinarily beautiful. The Ameo shares its front face with the Polo and Vento and the design looks timeless as ever. The smoked headlamps, detailed bumper and grille are all reminiscent of Volkswagen’s typical styling philosophy. The Ameo also gets static cornering lights up front and it is the first in its segment to get this feature. Volkswagen is also offering a new blue shade with this compact sedan. The Ameo has a similar wheelbase as the Polo but the front fenders are slightly redesigned.

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The boot has been neatly integrated but is a bit flat in appearance

The Volkswagen Ameo loses the classic VW design to fit into sub 4-metre shoes

The side profile is again clean and the short boot overhang looks kind of quirky. The boot itself has been integrated very neatly and it doesn’t look like a stick-on job at all, but most compact sedans look weird from certain angles and the Ameo is no different. The tail lights carry some inspiration from the Polo and Vento’s lights while the boot lid and bumper get a flat design, thus making the Ameo sit comfortably under the 4-metre mark.

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The dashboard is familiar VW and is high on quality and feel

Interiors – The insides are again very similar to the Polo. The layout of the dashboard is exactly the same and Volkswagen is offering a dual tone black + beige colour theme. The instrument cluster is easy to read while the Ameo also gets a touchscreen infotainment system which is again fairly user-friendly to use. The equipment list also consists of features like rain-sensing wipers, Climatronic automatic AC, electrically folding and adjustable mirrors, cooled glovebox, cruise control, etc.

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Rear seat experience is very disappointing due to the lack of space

The Ameo gets a slightly better rear seat than the Polo but still lacks against rivals

The front seats feel comfortable to be in and they are very supportive. Under-thigh support could have been a bit better though. Thankfully, Volkswagen is offering a front centre armrest on the Ameo and it comes in a shade of black. Space at the rear isn’t that great but the automaker has freed up some legroom buy scooping out the back rests of the front seats. Also, the rear bench is placed at a better angle than the Polo and hence it feels more comfortable to be in.

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The boot is the only USP of the Ameo over the Polo but is still small

Headroom is also slightly better than the Polo. There is a big transmission hump at the centre, thus making the Ameo fit for only 4 people. Storage spaces inside the cabin are pretty decent. There is storage under the front centre armrest. The front doors can hold 1.5-litre bottles while keeping even 500 ml bottles in the rear bottle holders is difficult. The front seat back doesn’t come with magazine holders now. Boot space is average at 330-litres.

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The Ameo is only available with a petrol engine which lacks punch

Performance – The Volkswagen Ameo has been launched with only the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, MPI petrol engine. This engine produces 75 PS of power and 110 Nm of torque and it comes mated to a 5-speed transmission. The German is not offering the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the Polo and Vento in the Ameo yet. Also, the Ameo will be getting a 1.5-litre TDI diesel engine mated to 5-speed manual and 6-speed DSG transmissions but this oil-burner will be launched only during the festive season. Volkswagen is offering the Ameo with a petrol engine initially just to get sales going.

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To get the Ameo moving, one has to work the gearbox a lot

The 3-cylinder petrol engine is the biggest hiccup in what is otherwise a fantastic mechanical package

Talking about the MPI engine, it comes across as a major disappointment because it has a very poor low-end and mid-range. In fact, the engine doesn’t impress even at the higher spectrum of the RPM range. City drivability is just about average and this mill is just not meant for highway driving. Redline comes in early at 6000 RPM. To keep the car moving, you always need to keep the engine on the boil. The engine also gets very vocal and at higher RPMs, a lot of noise filters inside the cabin. 100 km/hr comes up in 3rd gear while in top gear, the Ameo touches the ton at 2900 RPM.

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Revv it hard and the VW powerplant gets very loud but not in a good way

If you’re looking for performance, you better stay away from the Ameo because the engine feels the most inferior in its segment which consists of the Maruti Swift DZire, Tata Zest, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Ford Figo Aspire. Gear shifts are pretty slick though but the MPI mill doesn’t impress even in terms of fuel efficiency. The ARAI-rating of 17.83 km/l is also the lowest in its segment. We are really waiting for the updated diesel engine to arrive because it will be a blast to drive with 108 PS of power.

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The Ameo is a very fun car to drive fast with good control

Driving Dynamics – Volkswagen cars have always had good dynamics and the Ameo is no different. The steering has good feel but could do with some more feedback. Handling is sharp and predictable too. The car remains planted always and maintains its composure even at high speeds. The suspension is nicely set-up and ride quality on the Ameo is simply fab. The suspension soaks up whatever is thrown at it with ease. Body movement is also very well controlled while the brakes also offer good performance and pedal bite is also quite positive. Our test car had MRF ZVTV tyres which offer decent levels of grip and performance. Overall, the Ameo impresses when we talk about ride and handling dynamics.

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Volkswagen is taking safety very seriously, it shows with the Ameo

Safety and After Sales Service – In terms of safety features, the Volkswagen Ameo comes with dual front airbags and ABS as standard fitment on all variants which is really impressive. The compact sedan also gets other stuff like rain-sensing wipers and static cornering lights which are good to have. Volkswagen has a decent service network across India but their service quality standards aren’t really all that high and owners are often left wanting for more, rather better quality levels.

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Not a good alternative to rivals but a better option to the Polo

Verdict – The Volkswagen Ameo is unlike any other compact sedan. While its rivals have a lot of space and are far more practical, the Ameo excels in terms of equipment, quality, build, value-for-money factor and also the fact that Volkswagen is considered a premium brand. The Ameo loses out on space and the rear seats are best kept for children. The vehicle also has below average performance. Most people who buy a compact sedan over a premium hatchback only do so because they get the snob value of a sedan and the Ameo fulfils that requirement properly. The Volkswagen Ameo can be a good choice for someone who wants a German car on a budget because this is also the only German car in its segment currently.

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We will still pick the Polo over the Ameo as it feels more VW

What’s Cool

* Build quality is extremely good
* Lots of equipment on offer, many first-in-segment features
* Ride is well sorted, handling is also good
* Priced cheaper than Polo, thus upping the VFM quotient

What’s Not So Cool

* The petrol engine lacks in performance on the highway, TSI engine won’t be offered
* Buyers of the diesel variants will have to wait till the festive season
* Space at the rear is poor, especially when compared to immediate rivals

Alternatives: Maruti Swift DZire, Ford Figo Aspire, Tata Zest, Hyundai Xcent, Honda Amaze

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Will the Ameo boost sales of Volkswagen in India?

Volkswagen Ameo Specifications

* Engine: 1198cc, 3-cylinder, DOHC
* Power: 75 PS @ 5400 RPM
* Torque: 110 Nm @ 3750 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 14.2 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 17.83 km/l (ARAI-claimed)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Semi-Independent Trailing Arm (Rear)
* Tyres: 185/60/15
* Brakes: Discs (Front), Drums (Rear), ABS
* Safety: 2 airbags, Cruise Control, Rain-Sensing Wipers

Volkswagen Ameo Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3995 mm X 1682 mm X 1483 mm
* Wheelbase: 2470 mm
* Ground clearance: 165 mm
* Turning radius: 4.97-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1069 kgs

Further Reading –

Volkswagen Ameo Video Review
Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Review
Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Video Review