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

Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Review

Car Tested: Volkswagen Ameo; Road Test No. 744

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7.64 – 11.19 lakhs

The diesel engine and automatic gearbox have made the Volkswagen Ameo more desirable

Volkswagen has been present in India since a few years now but it was just this year that they launched a made for India product with the Ameo. Within no time, the Ameo became Volkswagen’s best selling car in India, with its sales being more than all other VW cars combined. This was only with a petrol version on sale and now the Ameo’s popularity is set to increase further as the diesel model has been launched, available with both manual and DSG automatic transmission. We drive the car from Mumbai to Nashik and back to analyse how the updated diesel motor fares in the compact German sedan.

Motor Quest: The Ameo is the first Volkswagen car tailor made for India and it competes in a segment where there is a lot of demand, hence pricing and value proposition remain important.

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Except the TDI badging, there are no changes on the diesel variant

Exteriors – The Ameo carries forward the timeless design language of Volkswagen successfully. The vehicle resembles the Polo and Vento from the front while the side (up to the C-pillar) will remind you of the Polo although changes have been made to the front fenders. The boot has been neatly integrated but the requirement of tucking under 4-metres in length does make the car look a bit awkward from certain angles. Still, this is one of the better looking compact sedans and the boot job doesn’t look like an after-thought. The only way to identify the diesel version from the petrol is the TDI badging on the boot.

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The interiors are ergonomic and the equipment list is impressive

Interiors – The Volkswagen Ameo diesel has the same interiors as the petrol model and there is nothing to differentiate between the two models except the tachometer which is marked till 6000 RPM on the oil burner. The dual-tone black and beige interiors look very nice and this is nothing but a Polo cabin with slight improvements to the rear headroom due to the re-designed C-pillar. But the rear seat lacks in legroom, knee room and under-thigh support so this isn’t a car you would want to sit behind, specially if you are tall.

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The DSG gear lever is the same one as the Polo and Vento

Seats are supportive but space at the rear is constrained, front armrest is useful

The Volkswagen Ameo is equipped with a ton of features, many of them are segment first like rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, window opening and closing using key remote, one-touch up/down for all windows and anti-pinch windows. There are decent amount of storage spaces but the boot is far from being the biggest in the segment. Where the Ameo can’t be matched is the build quality, it feels very solidly put-together and is made like a tank.

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The 1.5-litre diesel engine produces 5 PS more than before

Performance – Initially, Volkswagen offered the Ameo with only the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, MPI petrol engine. We weren’t very impressed with the engine’s performance then. However, the addition of the 1.5-litre TDI oil burner seems to have added some life to the compact sedan. This is the same engine that does duty on the Polo and Vento. However, the engine now produces 110 PS of power which is 5 PS more than the Polo and Vento, and this increase is due to a larger turbocharger. Torque remains the same at 250 Nm though. The engine is offered with a 5-speed manual transmission or a super quick 7-speed DSG gearbox. The engine is very noisy on the outside but cabin insulation on the Ameo seems better than the Polo.

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The engine has added a lot of punch to the car, both gearboxes work well

The diesel engine has a lot of grunt and makes the Ameo a very fun-to-drive car

The diesel engine has brilliant performance right from the word GO. It takes off effortlessly and the car has a nice surge of power once the turbo starts spooling. There is some amount of turbo lag but once you get past that, the Ameo does go like a mini rocket. The mid-range is extremely strong and even at RPMs close to the redline, there’s a nice amount of grunt. 100 km/hr comes in at 1800 RPM in 7th gear on the DSG gearbox and 2200 RPM in 5th gear with the manual tranny. We came out thoroughly impressed with the engine’s performance. The 5-speed manual transmission is slick and gear shifts are smooth while the 7-speed DSG is lovely and changes cogs very quickly. ARAI-claimed fuel efficiency is 20.14 km/l but you can normally expect 13-15 km/l in city traffic and close to 18-19 km/l on the highways.

Acceleration Timings – The diesel Volkswagen Ameo is the fastest among its siblings (Polo and Vento). While it isn’t drastically faster than the Polo GT TDI (due to the 26 kgs increase in weight), it ducks under the 10 second mark. The automatic version has a slight lag when you take off and that has resulted in it being marginally slower than the manual.

– Ameo 1.2 (P) – 14.42 seconds
– Ameo 1.5 (D) – 9.89 seconds
– Ameo 1.5 AT (D) – 9.96 seconds
– Volkswagen Polo GT TDI – 10.03
– Volkswagen Polo 1.5 (D) – 12.34

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The Ameo has brilliant dynamics just like other Volkswagens

Driving Dynamics – The dynamics of the Volkswagen Ameo make it a very engaging car to drive. The steering has nice feel but lacks feedback. It is superbly direct and precise though. The ride quality is impressive and the suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and undulations with ease. Brakes have good performance too and the Ameo maintains its composure even under emergency braking situations. Our test car came with Apollo Alnac tyres and the grip levels were much better than the MRF tyres on the petrol variant.

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The addition of the diesel engine has made an incomplete car complete!

Verdict – The Volkswagen Ameo diesel is a very good package since it comes with great build quality, loaded equipment list, a power packed engine and two really nice gearboxes. The compact sedan does look a bit quirky from certain angles but looks are always subjective. Overall, Volkswagen has got a really fine product on their hands with the Ameo TDI and we really wish it fetches more sales now because the numbers of the petrol Ameo have been far from satisfying.

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The Ameo is made for India, but the Polo and Vento feel more German

What’s Cool

* Strong build quality with good finesse
* The diesel engine offers brilliant performance
* DSG transmission is the best automatic gearbox in the segment

What’s Not So Cool

* Looks quirky from some angles
* Space at the rear isn’t that great

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

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Will the Ameo diesel shake the compact sedan segment?

Testers’ Note:

“The Volkswagen Ameo is a fantastic car and the missing link was the diesel engine as the petrol motor just doesn’t do justice to what is otherwise a fantastic compact sedan. The oil burner is a stonker, offering stupendous performance and really is the best in the segment, more so with the fab 7-speed automatic gearbox. But with the rear seat experience more or less like the Polo, it’s the GT TDI which I would prefer over the Ameo diesel.” – Faisal Khan, Chief Editor, MotorBeam.
“I have loved the 1.5-litre TDI engine right from the days when we had a Polo GT TDI long termer. The engine is performance oriented and makes driving the car a fun experience. With the larger turbo, the Ameo feels power packed and it touches high speeds in no time. This engine and DSG gearbox combo is definitely the best in the compact sedan segment for now!” – Parth Gohil, Senior Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading –

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