Why would I buy it?
- Fun to drive
- Peppy petrol engine
Why would I avoid it?
- Ageing design
- Inadequate feature list
Engine and Performance
To breathe by the BS6 regulations, Volkswagen only looked to their direct injection petrol mill to provide power for its Vento line-up; with manual and automatic transmission options. It’s a 109bhp/175Nm 1.0-litre TSI unit, and we’ve covered the manual gearbox variant here. First things first, since this is a three-pot motor, it isn’t surprising to come across a fair degree of the thrum.
In fact, the motor is quite audible on the go, but owing to so much grunt available easily and consistently, you tend to give it a pass. Yep, as the motor revs past 2,000rpm, it lets out a particularly strong and linear power delivery that only tapers off before the 6,000rpm redline, without any hiccups or flat-spots. What eventually hogs the limelight here is when the accelerator is kept fully depressed, illegal speeds come up in a jiffy, whereby aiding overtaking chores considerably.
With such a strong mid-range grunt at hand, you really don’t need to work this six-speed gearbox hard to go about its duties. Now, although it’s light to the hand, it comes about as a tad too notchy for my taste; makes shifting in a hurry less exciting. Overall, this three-pot does well as a replacement for the earlier petrol/diesel mills barring the obvious NVH levels. Adding some extra zest to the package is VW’s claim of it returning 17.69km to a litre of fuel. A nice number even if you shave off a few in real-world conditions.
Ride Quality and Handling
Volkswagen has lent its Vento with a rather fine balance between ride and handling. In this regard, the steering not only has a reassuring heft, but it’s also particularly direct too. Both of which mean a great deal to drive fast. However, with about two-and-a-three quarter turns from lock to lock, it isn’t very quick; something that’s evident while parking in a tight spot.
Also, it seems clear that the firm ride quality is to blame when the going gets rough at slower speeds. However, up the pace in the Vento and the damping improves substantially to the extent where most imperfections are traversed upon without the occupants feeling much. Plus, the firm setup also blesses the Vento with good composure, be it highway blasts or corner carving.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
The Vento’s insides have noticeably begun to show its age, not just in terms of plastic finish, but also in the use of premium materials; the rivals clearly having the upper hand now. Nevertheless, the beige upholstery/plastic and attractive flat-bottom steering certainly uplift the mood within. Likewise, the ‘German build quality’ still shines through when you hear the doors thud shut.
Now despite the Vento being behind its rivals in the game of dimensions, it doesn’t seem that way when seated, owing to the adequate head- and shoulder-room. Besides that, although three passengers can be seated at the rear, the middle occupant will struggle for legroom due to the extended AC vents and protruding transmission tunnel. Plus, if we are to nit-pick (like always), more optimum cushioning and extra under-thigh support are welcome.
As regards the features in this top-end Highline Plus model, it comes with climate control, cruise control, height adjustment for the steering wheel as well as the driver’s seat, rear AC vents, and two 12V sockets. The highlight of the centre console is a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which sounds and works well too.
It may not read as much but all the Volkswagen Vento versions get dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, and rear parking sensors. As such, the Highline Plus variant that’s been reviewed for this write-up also gets LED headlights and a reverse parking camera.
The 2020 Volkswagen Vento we see in the images does away without any changes post the facelift it received in 2019. So as a refresher, it has the restyled bumpers, LED headlights with LED DRLs, and reshaped 16-inch alloy wheels. Since this one is the TSI edition, you’ll notice the decals on the doors which, in my opinion, look bleak. Admittedly, despite Vento’s understated charm, its newer rivals such as the latest Honda City and the Hyundai Verna make a stronger case for themselves.
Where the Volkswagen Vento fails to attract with its overall lacklustre aura, it tries to make up for some in the driving department. But, considering our market has increasingly progressed over time, so is the demand for an all-rounder too. Which, the Vento obviously falls short of. Plus, its price that ranges from Rs 11.75 to Rs 16.42 lakh (OTR Mumbai, Manual/Auto) doesn’t really help matters either. Maybe a price cut could lure some hatchback buyers to its reigns, but as of now, there are better choices out there. A rather unfortunate outcome to the dying breed of stimulatingly involving driver’s cars. I need a pint!