VW introduced the Ameo last year as their first and only compact sedan, made only for India. With the Ameo the company has been trying to eat into the market of the Maruti Dzire. So what’s it like to live with under different conditions? Read on to find out.
The daily grind
This is where most people will be using the Ameo on a day-to-day basis. So it is very important that the car aces this category. Let’s talk from the driver’s point of view first. The Ameo is powered by a 1.5 liter TDI engine making 108 Bhp and 250 Nm. This engine is mated to a 7-speed DSG and a 5-speed manual. The vehicle we had was the 7-speed DSG. This meant that the vehicle was a complete breeze to drive in the city. The DSG is fast and shifts are barely felt. The company has programmed the DSG in such a way that most of the turbo lag is not felt. Sometimes the car does decide to pick up on second gear, when rolling which can get a little irritating, however when it comes to ease and comfort of driving, there is nothing that can match the smoothness of the DSG. The compact dimensions also make it easy to weave in and out of traffic, making this quite fun to drive in the city. There is enough power on offer and this one is no slouch. It can shame cars from a segment above as well, when it comes to sheer acceleration. While the Polo also gets the same engine, it lacks the DSG and people who want a diesel DSG have to opt for the Ameo.
In terms of ergonomics, the seat is height adjustable and the steering is adjustable for reach as well as rake, which means finding an ideal driving position is not very tough.
Those taking the back seat have rear AC vents and adjustable rear head rests on either side, however there is no headrest at the center. What is also missing is a rear armrest. Space is adequate, both leg and head room but there are cars in the segment that do offer more space. The suspension is stiffer than the petrol equivalent but the ride quality is still good.
The infotainment system gets MirrorLink, SD card slot, bluetooth, USB and Aux-in, which means that you will have enough means to keep your daily commute entertaining. While it is very compact, it does get rear parking sensors and a rear camera, that makes parking in tight spots very easy. The exterior mirrors fold electrically, however you need to turn the knob for it to happen, there is no auto function which does it automatically when the vehicle locks. A good thing is that the car gets auto dimming mirror on the inside, a major boon in the city.
One thing that you will like is the build quality, which feels robust and tank like, compared to the competition. All plastics have a nice feel to it and the power windows have a one touch up and down facility on all 4 windows, a pretty nifty feature.
The weekend getaway
Out on the highway is where the Ameo really shines. It is equipped with cruise control, for those who want to have a steady progress. The 7 speed DSG means that the vehicle cruises at a lower RPM at triple digit speeds, making the engine more relaxed, the cabin quieter and also resulting in better fuel economy. One thing has to be said though, the car has a lot of mid range punch, something that comes in very handy while pulling overtakes on the highway. The car is also very planted and stable when cruising at higher speeds. This gives you more confidence to maintain higher speeds. You can easily take corners at over 3 digit speeds without much thought.
The car gets a leather wrapped flat bottom steering wheel which is very good to hold and has adequate amount of feedback. If you are hitting the twisties, you will find a tad bit of body roll and that while the steering is direct, the feedback is not really great. Where the engine and gearbox are totally suited for enthusiastic driving, the dynamics have been tuned more towards making it a comfortable cruiser than an out and out sporty handler. Though the car feels extremely planted, we would have liked a little more heft in the steering wheel at higher speeds.
Interms of ergonomics, the car has an arm rest for the driver with a storage binnacle inside. Storage is one area where the Ameo does well. There is a huge bin ahead of the gear lever that swallows a lot and the door pockets too have good enough room for bottles.
The car has a boot space of 330 liters and the hinges and the wheel arches do eat into the luggage space. This will require a little adjusting, if you want to carry a lot of luggage.
The Ameo DSG comes in a total of two variants, the Comfortline and the Highline, which is featured here. The Comfortline is priced at Rs 9.09 lakhs while the Highline is priced at Rs 9.9 lakhs.
When it comes to the ease of driving, no transmission can match the smoothness and the speed of a DSG. If you are in the market for a diesel automatic compact sedan and are the sort who prefers to drive rather than be driven, the Ameo is the best out there. The only other diesel automatic vehicle that is present in this segment is the Dzire, which uses an AMT.