Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Test Drive Review
Vento TSI replaces the Vento AT, offering better performance, improved mileage and a better gearbox

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Review

Car Tested: 2013 Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 11,86,050/-

The Vento TSI’s turbocharged motor offers an enthralling drive experience.

A pint sized motor under the hood of a proper sedan might lament ridicule from people who firmly believe that “there is no replacement for displacement” but turbochargers have time and again changed our pre-conceived notions of engine cubic capacity being everything. Volkswagen is betting big on forced induction and the German automaker plans to ditch naturally aspirated motors the world over by the end of this decade, in lieu of more efficient turbochargers. While in India this transformation will still take some time, Volkswagen is moving ahead and giving turbo power to the people, first with the Polo GT TSI and now with the Vento TSI, both cars using the same mechanicals. The Vento TSI which uses a 7-speed DSG unit replaces the Vento Automatic which used a traditional 6-speed torque converter. The transformation in performance is immediately noticed.

Motor Quest: Volkswagen announced the 1.2 TSI engine in December 2009, introducing it in Skoda and Seat models in the following year. This motor is available in a variety of tunes with the 105 HP being the highest.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 Test Drive
Nothing has changed on the styling front and the Vento TSI should have looked sporty

Since its launch in the earlier part of the decade, the Volkswagen Vento hasn’t got any significant changes although a minor facelift was doled out just last year. Just like other Volkswagen cars, the styling is classy, although the Vento seems to have dated a bit and needs more than a minor facelift to catch our eyes. With a turbocharged mill under its belly, Volkswagen should have differentiated the exteriors a bit to reveal the sporty intentions. There isn’t much to differentiate the TSI from the regular Vento although the badging is a straight give away. The new 6-spoke alloy wheels which came with the facelift lack elegance and we like the 7-spoke wheels of the pre-facelift model. So nothing really exciting on the exterior front of the Vento TSI.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Road-TestVolkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI User Experience

The interiors of the Vento offer good quality and there is good space inside the cabin for four full-sized adults

On the interior front, there isn’t much difference either. The Volkswagen Vento TSI is very similar to its other variants although Volkswagen has given its top-spec variant some added features, which are more to do with the powertrain (ESP, Hill Hold, etc). The quality levels inside are good but our car was throwing out excessive rattles from the doors. Subtle chrome touches on the dashboard are neatly executed for that premium feel and there are good storage spaces inside the cabin. Like the exteriors, the interiors too are plain yet classy and appealing in a unique way. There is ample amount of space at the rear and the co-passenger seat can be moved forward from behind to increase room at the rear when the vehicle is being chauffeur driven. Boot space is decent but the rear seats don’t flip forward which hampers practicality.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Engine
1.2 TSI engine cranks out 105 PS of power and 175 Nm of torque in a linear manner

Where the Volkswagen Vento TSI is vastly different is at the heart. The 1.6-litre MPI engine has been replaced by the 1.2-litre TSI motor. Both engines churn out 105 PS of power but the turbocharged mill belts out an impressive 175 Nm of torque over the naturally-aspirated motor’s 153 Nm. All this torque comes out at just 1500 RPM (till 4100 RPM) yielding impressive low-end thrust. Power delivery is linear and you never get bogged down by turbolag. The mid-range is the strongest part of this motor and the car really takes off reaching 150 km/hr in a flash. You can cruise comfortably in top gear at 100 km/hr with the RPM needle ticking in at just a shade over 2000 RPM. This small capacity engine is high on hardware, using turbocharging and direct injection technology along with a cast aluminium alloy block and die-forged steel crankshaft, enabling lightness and strength. Thus you can expect a fuel economy of 10 km/l in the city under sane driving, stretching it to 13 km/l on the highways.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI PerformanceVolkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI DSG

Vento TSI doesn’t redline like a petrol engine should but mid-range is strong, DSG gearbox has sport mode

Although the Vento TSI isn’t as quick as the lighter Polo, it’s still quite fun to drive and you can whack the throttle for instant gratification. 100 km/hr comes in third gear or 10.85 seconds, which is slightly slower than the high-revving Honda City. This motor redlines quite quickly at around 6000 RPM while the revs are limited in neutral gear to 3850 RPM. What’s really a gem is the 7-speed DSG unit which upshifts cogs smoothly and quickly. You can opt for Sport mode on the box which only upshifts gears at the redline, the Vento TSI emitting a nice vocal snarl at high revs and downshifting with zest every time you step on the big pedal. There are no paddle shifts although there is a manual mode which is equally engaging. Hill Hold Assist is also present which holds the brakes for three seconds when on an incline, giving you time to switch your feet from the brake to the accelerator.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Test Drive
The Vento TSI handles well but the steering lacks feel and understeer kicks in quickly

Volkswagen offers a good balance of ride and handling on the Vento, the TSI is no different. The car offers a good ride quality absorbing most in its path but with some suspension noise creeping in on really bad roads. Handling is good but not as razor sharp as you would expect from a vehicle with such a bomb of a motor. The biggest spoilsport is the steering, which although light when parking and decently weighed at high speeds, lacks the feedback and feels very artificial, it simply doesn’t inspire enough confidence to push the car around corners hard. If you do end up taking twisties with enthusiasm, understeer creeps in quickly. Braking performance is very good and the car stops with confidence. The Apollo tyres aren’t the best around and the company has used a smaller space saver of size 175/70/14, bolted on a steel rim and not alloy.

Volkswagen Vento TSI Review
Maybe a rear spoiler and bigger wheels would make the Vento TSI look exciting

The Vento TSI is the most expensive variant of the Vento and also the most advanced one. The 1.2-litre TSI engine is a gem and so is the 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The TSI package is far better than the conventional Vento Automatic in multiple ways making the Vento TSI a fitting replacement for it. However it’s not a car you would want to buy if the backseat is your primary agenda. The Vento TSI is a car you would want to drive, more so on the highways although it offers you the convenience in city driving as well. Volkswagen should have added a bit more flair to the Vento TSI to make it the enthusiasts must-have petrol automatic mid-size sedan.

Vento TSI is easily the most fun to drive automatic saloon in its segment, offering good practicality and stellar performance.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2 TSI Review
Vento TSI is the most engaging automatic in its segment, offering thrilling performance

What’s Cool

* Engine Performance
* 7-speed DSG Transmission
* Ride quality

What’s Not So Cool

* No visual differentiation from other variants
* Steering lacks feel
* No paddle shifts