Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
The VW Ameo has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 5.24 - 7.06 lakhs (ex-Delhi).
What you'll like:
• A well-built, solid European sedan
• Aggressive pricing strategy; on par with the Polo
• Impressive feature list - cruise control, auto wipers, reversing camera, touchscreen ICE etc.
• Interior quality is among the segment best
• 1.2L petrol offers good city driveability. Sweet gearshift too
• Sorted ride & handling package. High speed stability is better than competition
• Dual airbags & ABS are standard across the range
What you won't:
• 3-cylinder petrol engine is weak & noisy. Vibrates as well
• Limited rear legroom & large floor hump. Competitors such as the Amaze are more spacious
• 1.2L TSI turbo-petrol unavailable (Polo gets it)
• 330L boot is the second-smallest from this segment
• Familiar face & interiors are starting to feel old
• The Polo & Vento's long-term reliability hasn't been as strong as the Japanese / Korean cars
• VW's sub-par dealership & service experiences
re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
Say hello to VW's first India-spec car, a result of our unique policies. In India, cars measuring less than four meters in length attract half the excise duty as 4+ meter models. Thus, their selling prices are considerably lower than longer rides. Maruti Suzuki leads the compact sedan race with the Dzire, followed by the Hyundai Xcent & Honda Amaze. Tata Motors and Ford are also present in the segment with the Zest & Figo Aspire respectively, although they haven't enjoyed any success.
Things have been tough for Volkswagen over the last 3 years due to an ageing product line. Fact is, exports have outnumbered domestic sales for the German giant! The Polo & Vento were launched 6 years back, and there's no sign of the all-new generation cars being launched anytime soon. With no other mass market products, VW tries to keep the Polo & Vento fresh with unusually frequent facelifts & engine / transmission updates. But these updates can only get you so far. With no new cars in sight, VW decided to make the most of what it had on hand and develop a compact sedan off the Polo.
The name Ameo is derived from the Latin word Amo, which means "I love". The car has been designed for India in Wolfsburg, Germany (with inputs from Volkswagen India). Apparently, the chief designer began sketching a fastback body style, until he was told that a 'sedan shape' is an absolute must for India. It was codenamed the Indian Compact Sedan (ICS) and test mules were spotted in April 2015 (related news). Team-BHP was the first to bring you clear side shots of these test mules (link to article). VW officially announced the car's name in January 2016 and unveiled it in the following month, just ahead of the 2016 Auto Expo.
Important to note that the Ameo is based on the Polo (NOT the Vento) with which it shares the wheelbase length. It is essentially a Polo with a boot, not a shortened Vento. While the move is rather late, Volkswagen has equipped the car with first-in-segment features to attract buyers. Interestingly, the Ameo's starting price is lower than the Polo's! Both cars are priced about on par when it comes to the middle Comfortline variant; however, the top-end of the Ameo is more expensive (by a small margin). Don't be that surprised by the lower entry price. Hatchbacks can be costlier to build as they require a stronger rear structure & more parts for the tail-gate.
The launch is clearly a half-hearted effort as the only engine you currently get is the weak 1.2L 3-cylinder petrol (excellent engine review here). The Ameo is going to come with the familiar 1.5L diesel, but that variant isn't ready yet! VW is also going to be offering the diesel with a 7-speed DSG Automatic. This could be a major USP in the segment and we simply can't figure out why VW didn't work harder and have it readied at the time of launch! A car generates maximum publicity on its introduction and there's no doubt a big opportunity has been missed here.
Further, why is that explosive 1.2L turbo-petrol TSI not an option? If you arrive late to the segment, you do so with an advantage. Truth is, the Ameo's petrol engine is the weakest in the compact sedan segment. It's also the only 3-cylinder petrol which is sure to put off interested customers. VW has better engines (1.5L diesel, 1.2L TSI petrol) & transmissions (DSG) available, yet inexplicably, its latest product doesn't benefit from them. We are absolutely speechless at this lack of preparation.
From the front, a layman will struggle to tell the Ameo apart from the Polo & Vento. It's only when viewed from the side or rear that the cars are adequately differentiated. Now, the hatchback measures 3,971 mm in length, which means that the engineers had just 28 mm to add a boot and keep the car's length under 4 meters. Volkswagen smartly shaved the front bumper by 35 mm so they get more leeway at the rear. It's otherwise identical to the Polo until & including the rear doors (even the quarter glasses are the same). Volkswagen's engineers have done a fair job of integrating the boot and the Ameo's rather stubby + boxy rear is inoffensive. The roofline has been lowered slightly to allow the C-Pillar to blend with the boot. That said, it appears to end rather abruptly and lacks the balanced proportions of its hatchback (Polo) and full-sized sedan (Vento) siblings. We've always been big fans of VW's proportionate designs; sadly, the Ameo is a departure from the same.
The paint quality is top notch and like its siblings, the build is solid as well. The doors shut with that typical thud that we have become used to in European cars. Disappointingly though, the boot lid felt rather light. It closes with a tinny sound and a bit of a rattle. Shut lines are tight and consistent for the most part. It's only around the bonnet and boot that they become wider.
In the area of safety, the Ameo gets features such as ABS and dual front airbags on all variants. While it has not been crash-tested by the NCAP, its siblings - the Polo and Vento - have gotten 4 stars (international variants with more features scored 5 stars). So, it should be safe to assume that the Ameo will score similarly. We believe that the Ameo is among the safest cars in this price range. Ownership threads like these only reinforce that belief.
The classy, understated look of the Polo is carried over to the Ameo. Might be taking the old family styling too far though. It's difficult to tell the two apart. Like the Vento (not Polo), the bumper gets a subtle crease above the foglamp:
Rear end is more Skoda than Volkswagen, thanks to the edgy styling of the boot lid (around the number plate housing). Also gets an understated lip on top. Tail pipe is nicely concealed. Ameo does look boxy from the rear:
Side profile is the only one that's unappealing, and how!! Front bumper has been trimmed by 35 mm - this reduces protection and could lead to higher costs of accidental repair. Car is identical to the Polo up to & including the rear door + quarter glass. C-Pillar is slimmer and roof slopes down here:
Clean styling with minimum character lines. This is the best angle to view the Ameo in. Flared wheel arches give the car a muscular look:
On the other hand, the Ameo's rear 3-quarter look is awkward. This blue silk colour option is new:
Halogen double-barrel headlamps with a black finish inside:
With all the lights in action - low beam on the left, parking light is integrated in the high beam and turn indicator housed below, under a chrome insert. Indicators blink once / twice when the car is locked / unlocked (respectively):
The foglamp doubles up as a cornering lamp. This is India-specific cost cutting. Overseas, the outermost socket actually gets a bulb which works as the cornering lamp. Here, it's a dummy with no bulb inside:
Slim grille with black horizontal slats and a classy chrome strip along its base. VW badge sits in the middle and the bumper + bonnet feature cuts to accommodate it:
Wide air dam with a chrome strip. Slot to attach tow eye located above the left foglamp housing:
Peculiar hole in the bumper. There’s one on the other side too:
Bonnet creases merge with the grille - typical Volkswagen design:
Windshield washers are tucked away underneath. Two units squirt out two jets of water each. While the amount of water sprayed is adequate, it doesn't go high enough:
In what is a segment first, the Ameo is equipped with automatic rain-sensing wipers! Sensor located in the center of the windshield:
185/60 R15 tyres are standard across the range and provide sufficient grip for the power available. Alloy wheels have a classy, timeless design. Notice the 5 lugnuts - a first for the segment. At the Auto Expo, the Ameo was wearing 16" rims (image link), but without doubt, 15 inchers are more practical & offer a better ride too:
ORVMs get integrated blinkers:
Door handles get subtle chrome inserts. No request sensors / smartkey entry though:
Prominent black plastic cladding on the B-Pillar is a fixed, one-piece unit. Quarter glasses on the C-Pillar help in making the cabin feel brighter (they're identical to the Polo's):
Short & stubby antenna is located on the roof, towards the rear of the car:
Slimmer C-Pillar than that of the Polo:
Rear overhang is very short and the bumper doesn't stick out at all. Any hit is likely to be taken on the body:
A closer look at the tail-lamp cluster:
Parking lights are L-shaped. The strip in the middle is lit up as well. One rear foglamp provided next to the blinker (on the right). The top portion of the cluster lights up when the brakes are applied:
Single reversing lamp housed in the left cluster:
Tail-lamps jut out a bit from the sides. Check out the boot lip here. Standard electro-magnetic boot release has been provided above the numberplate, unlike the Polo where you press the logo (image link). We're pleased that the Ameo doesn't wear a chrome strip at the rear - a welcome departure from conventional practices:
Rear bumper houses four parking sensors and two slim reflectors. Good to see 4 parking sensors on a cheap sedan at a time when some 20 lakh cars give merely two (reference image):
Reversing camera is nicely integrated. There are only two ways of opening the boot - either by long pressing the boot release button on the key or via this electromagnetic switch. No boot open button inside the vehicle:
Ameo badge is placed on the lower left. No variant or engine badging anywhere:
Ugly tow hook sticks out from the right side:
Ground clearance is estimated to be similar to the Polo (165 mm). VW hasn't shared the exact rating. As you'd expect from the Germans, the underbody is tidy & organised:
From the front. No engine guard provided:
Chip-resistant rough coating on the side sills:
Interior - Front
The front doors open and shut in a triple-stage action. The Ameo is not a tall car and as a result, ingress & egress are not as easy as say - a Tata Zest. You have to sit down in the seats. Elderly folk and those with back problems aren't likely to be impressed.
If you've sat in the facelifted Polo, you've already sat in the Ameo. The cabin has a classy black and beige theme, while the large greenhouse means that there is plenty of light coming in. Overall, the interior has an airy feel to it.
While the dashboard's top surface is black, the lower part is beige. Brushed aluminium inserts have been tastefully applied on the center fascia and around the side air-con vents. The center fascia tilts slightly towards the driver creating a cockpit effect. The dash is straight-forward, functional and very well put together. There isn't a single uneven gap or loose construction. All the buttons feel durable and premium.
The materials used are high quality and the fit and finish are excellent. It blows the budget cabins of the Dzire & Amaze away. There are no rough edges anywhere. That said, there is still no soft-touch material used anywhere and the dashboard is now beginning to look outdated:
Lateral shot. While the Comfortline and Highline variants get a dual tone (beige and black) theme, the Trendline has all-black interiors:
Awesome steering wheel - among the best we've seen. Flat-bottom steering gets leather, chrome accents and piano black panels for a premium look. It's chunky and sweet to hold. Hornpad will be a stretch for those with small hands. It's not easy to press either:
Controls for the audio system are located on the left spoke of the steering. Mute button is very handy:
Right spoke houses the telephony controls and buttons to swap between the MID's features. Lower left button is for voice commands:
Zooming in to show you the leather's stitching pattern:
Nice! The steering offers tilt & telescopic adjustment. Both have a satisfactory range:
Familiar and easy to read instrument cluster from the Polo and Vento. Tachometer on the left and speedometer on the right - just the way we like it. The MID comes on every time you open the door, whether the key is in the ignition slot or not (shows the time and odometer):
The MID is simple and its white letters are easy to read. It features a digital fuel gauge, speed limit warning, digital speedometer, average speed, time travelled, distance to empty, average fuel consumption, outside temperature, an engine temperature readout (Celsius) and service reminder. The arrow below the fuel gauge shows which side the fuel flap is located on:
Stalks feel built to last. Unfortunately, European orientation means lights on the left and wipers on the right. Switches for the cruise control are located on the indicator stalk. The desired speed can be increased or decreased by using the buttons on the edge. Lane change indicator provided as well. Check out the super cool ad for the 'auto wipers' feature here:
Typical European headlamp and foglamp controls. Turn the switch to the parking light or headlamp position and then pull it to its first step to start the front foglamps. Pull further to the second step to start the rear foglamp. We feel that the Ameo should have had 'auto headlamps' as it's a feature you'll use all 12 months of the year, unlike auto wipers which are used only in the monsoons:
Black & beige doorpads are all plastic (no fabric). The boot release button is no longer located on the driver's doorpad. Armrest is wide and useable, but would have been more comfortable with some soft padding:
All 4 power windows have one touch up/down and anti-pinch. All window buttons are backlit in red:
Typical VW ORVM adjustment knob is located on top of the door handle. ORVMs can be retracted electrically by turning the knob to the topmost position (clockwise or anti-clockwise). The lock/unlock buttons are large. Yep, the doors auto-lock at 15 km/h. The lock/unlock action is audible, although not as loud as say the TUV300:
Useful front door pockets are big enough to hold a 1.5L bottle and the knick-knacks:
Seats get fabric upholstery and adjustable headrests (unlike some of its competitors with fixed headrests). Seats offer excellent support to the back as well as under-thighs:
Driver's seat is height-adjustable. The adjustment has a healthy range and the lever feels long-lasting. Crank the lever 17 times to put the seat in its highest position (from the lowest). Crank it 25 times to take it from the highest to lowest:
Long and sturdy metal bar for the seat's fore & aft adjustment:
Zooming in on the fabric upholstery to give you a better look at its design. Light colour means it'll soil easily:
Center armrest is a segment first. It's positioned well - you don't need to take your arm off it to operate the gear lever. No height adjustment though. Soft black fabric padding on top makes it comfortable:
Center armrest has storage underneath with an anti-slip rubber mat. It can easily hold a 6-inch phablet and more:
Handbrake is difficult to operate with the center armrest in place. Hence…
…it's advisable to put the armrest up before using the handbrake:
Seatbelts aren't adjustable - sucks in an otherwise loaded car. Still, the seatbelts are placed at a fairly neutral height:
Beige floor carpet is a big no for India. What was VW thinking? ABC pedals are adequately spaced out. Clutch is on the higher side and has a long travel range. A dead pedal is provided, but…
...those with bigger-than-average shoe sizes will have trouble using it. There is very little space between the clutch and centre console panel to get your foot through. You might have to slide it from below the clutch. Lifting your foot from the dead pedal will cause it to rub against the panel and clutch too:
Bonnet release lever is placed on the right side of the driver's footwell. The lever is chunky and sturdy. To pull it, you need to open the door! This will cause a bit of inconvenience when a hotel's security guard asks you to open the bonnet for inspection:
Driver's footwell gets ambient lighting with a theatre dimming effect. This light cannot be switched off. The maze of wiring looks untidy...honestly, unexpected in a German car. Don't miss the OBD port on the right:
Passenger's footwell also gets ambient lighting. Thankfully, there are no ugly / naked wires hanging out here:
ORVMs are wide and offer a good view of the happenings behind. Notice how the driver can see the ORVM blinker from inside:
The IRVM is wide, but the sharply sloping windscreen and high parcel tray mean that coverage is strictly average:
Sensor for the auto-dimming function is located behind the IRVM. Feature is on by default; you don't even have to press any 'auto' button:
Visibility while reversing is strictly average. While the rear headrests don't pose a problem, the high boot, high parcel tray and tapering roofline limit the view. You'll be putting that reversing camera & parking sensors to good use:
Center fascia tilts towards the driver. Brushed aluminium finish looks damn classy. It's also present around the gear shifter & side air-con vents:
Air-conditioner vents have rudimentary direction controls. Air volume control works well - 0 flow does result in 0 flow (unlike most other cars). The air volume knobs switch to their extreme positions with a nice click. Fragile vents break with time though (related thread):
Touchscreen head-unit with CD/MP3, USB, SD Card, Aux-in and Bluetooth connectivity. Its functions have been covered in a separate post:
The Ameo comes with a climate control system. The sound of the blower at level 1 & 2 is silent. It gets audible on level 3, loud on level 4 and very loud at 5 & up. The temperature can be varied from 'low' and 18 degrees C to 29 degrees C and 'high'. Switch it off by turning the blower knob anti-clockwise to below the first level. From the "off" position, pressing the "A/C" button starts the system with the temperature at 'low' and blower at full power. From the "off" position, pressing the "Auto" button starts the system with the blower at level 2 and temperature at 22 degrees C. The system always begins in 'fresh air' mode:
Deep cubicle on the center fascia is segmented and features two cupholders:
Need additional stability for cans or bottles? Use the foldable plastic piece that has been provided. It locks in place with a click. 12V power outlet located below the cupholders:
The gearknob looks elegant. Slick shifter is a joy to hold and use. Subtle chrome lining around it breaks the black monotony:
Slim slots on either side of the handbrake to hold pens & smartphones:
Dual airbags & ABS are standard on all variants of the Ameo :thumbs up:
Side air-con vents aren't asymmetrical as is the trend in modern cars. They get air volume control as well:
Large glovebox. A sunglass holder…
…coin slots, business card holder (behind) and…
…a cooling vent to keep your fizzy drink chilled! This vent can be turned off by rotating it clockwise:
Driver's sunvisor merely gets a flap to hold tickets and the like:
Passenger's sunvisor gets a vanity mirror, but no light. The missus won't be pleased:
Single cabin lamp is located at the front. Should have been placed between the front & rear seats, so those at the back are also taken care of. Goes out with a theatre dimming effect when the door is shut:
re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
The Highline variant gets a 5" touchscreen head-unit with a shiny black body. You are greeted by VW on startup. The interface is easy to use. System features Android MirrorLink, but doesn't get navigation or Apple Carplay. Music is played through 4 speakers - one on each door. Sound quality is regular grade (nothing to praise, nothing to complain):
Usual set of contemporary inputs (CD / MP3, USB, AUX, Bluetooth) and an SD card slot too. Bluetooth mic is located between the USB and AUX slots:
Pairing your smartphone via Bluetooth is easy as pie. Unlike some German cars, the phone can be paired on the move as well:
Check out the MirrorLink icon on the bottom left:
There is an SMS viewer and the system accepts voice commands too:
Lots of settings in here, including one for setting up a user profile:
The reversing camera display has decent clarity. Nope, these aren't adaptive guidelines. Good of VW to support the camera with 4 parking sensors at the back:
Classy clock screensaver appears after switching the head-unit off:
Interior - Rear
While it was good news in the cabin's front, things are mostly negative at the rear.
Rear doors open & shut in a three-stage action too! The low roofline means you have to bend down while getting in:
The door sill is rather wide & the legroom is poor. This further hampers ingress & egress:
Doorpad carried over from the Polo as the door is identical. None of the passenger doors get lock buttons, so they can't be secured individually. To unlock any of these doors, pull on the door handle twice. Rear speakers are placed here (not on the parcel shelf):
Rear door pockets are narrower than the front's. No bottle holder either:
The rear bench is well-sized and has good cushioning. Three passengers are able to fit. There is no center armrest; not cool for occupants on the side, but better for the middle passenger:
These soft & adjustable headrests are comfortable. While the passengers on the side get 3-point seatbelts, the one in the middle only has a lap belt. Remember our comment on the light coloured upholstery? See how it's already soiled on our media car:
Rear seat is low and the legroom poor (despite scooped-in seatback). This is one of the Polo's biggest drawbacks too. Competitors like the Amaze & Figo Aspire offer much better rear legroom. Though the roofline has been lowered, the headroom is still sufficient. At 5'10", I had about 1.5" of clearance:
Rear window doesn't roll all the way in:
Front seats don't get seatback pockets. Passengers will have to use the door pockets only:
Prominent floor hump (5 - 6 inches) is intrusive. The middle occupant will have to place his feet on either side of it:
Two rear air-con vents on the Highline variant. Independent direction controls for both rear passengers, but no air volume control:
Single cup / bottle holder at the rear. Notice the two rubber dampers used to prevent it from rattling (on top of where it folds in):
The Ameo gets three spring-loaded grab handles above each passenger door - the rear ones have coat hooks:
Nifty bag hook on both B-Pillars:
Parcel shelf is useless if you want to keep anything on it. It slopes down towards the front and there is no lip. IMHO, this is a good thing as we're not fans of placing stuff here (blocks the driver's view & moves under hard driving):
330L boot is among the smallest in the segment (36 liters more than the Polo). Only the Maruti Dzire's 316L boot is smaller. While it has a wide mouth for easier loading, intrusions on both sides limit usability. Boot is carpeted end to end:
Boot space can be increased by folding the rear seat down - a segment-first feature! Pull this knob up to unlock the seat and fold it (there's another knob on the other side):
A look at the folded seat:
View from the boot. Metal hinges of the lid could interfere with your luggage:
Boot lid is naked on the underside with large gaping holes - looks ugly. In such things, VW should teach the Asian car makers, not learn from them!
Useful boot lamp has been provided. Underside is very unpleasant to look at. Doesn't even get a proper coat of paint. Long bolts and sharp edges not only look bad, but they could also damage soft bags:
Hole to put your finger in and lift the floor up:
Tools are neatly stored in a Styrofoam casing placed in the spare wheel. There is a strap + buckle to hold the casing in place!
Spare wheel is not an alloy, but a 14" steel rim. 175/70 tyre (regular tyres are 185/60 R15):
Driving the 1.2L Petrol
This 1.2L petrol is the weakest part of the package. It doesn't fill up the big engine bay. The impressive 1.5L diesel isn't expected before the festive season:
The Ameo has the same 1.2L 3-cylinder petrol engine as the entry-level Polo. It develops 74 BHP (@ 5,400 rpm) and 110 Nm of torque (@ 3,750 rpm). This makes it the only 3-cylinder engine in the segment, and also the least powerful. The car's power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios of 71 BHP / ton and 105 Nm / ton are the lowest among its rivals.
Along with rear seat legroom, this is the other deal breaker of the Ameo (and a significant one at that). We reiterate, VW has better engines available - namely, the 1.2L TSI turbo-petrol & 1.5L diesel. It's a shame that the Ameo hasn't been launched with any of them. VW has arrived with a knife to a gunfight.
Fire the engine up and its diesel-like shake is disappointing. Idle is at 900 rpm; press the accelerator even a little and it gets audible. At idle, you can feel the pitter-patter of the engine, yet the vibrations aren't excessive.
When it comes to driveability (and only driveability), this 1.2L petrol redeems itself. Thanks to the short gearing, torque at low rpms is good and you'll never feel that the Ameo is underpowered in the city. Throttle response is healthy, with the engine feeling nice to use in the lower revv range. 2nd & 3rd gears have city-friendly ratios and you certainly won't be downshifting excessively. Even in 4th gear, you can potter around town at 40 - 45 km/h. VW's 1.2L is completely at home in urban driving conditions. Importantly, it doesn't have the jerkiness that we have experienced in some other 3-cylinder petrols (most recently, the Renault Kwid).
On the open road, the Ameo's driving experience is ordinary and performance can best be termed as 'acceptable'. Enthusiasts should look elsewhere - one needs to be calm & patient with this car. While the engine does revv to ~6,200 rpm, it's not got anything to offer beyond 5,500 rpm. Additionally, the 3-cylinder gets awfully noisy at high rpms and the sound is very crude (unlike the smooth 1.2L engines of Maruti / Honda / Hyundai). It's best to control the revvs, move to the middle lane and relax in the Ameo. Overtaking will require you to make judicious use of the gearbox. 100 km/h is seen at ~3,000 rpm in 5th gear, while 120 km/h is at 3,500 rpm. Must add that progress is slow after 120 km/h. VW's 1.2L motor is no match for say, the i-VTEC in the Honda Amaze or the K-Series in the Maruti Dzire. It's a commuter engine, nothing else.
3-cylinders are inherently fuel efficient and the Ameo should deliver satisfactory km/l figures. Polo owners report 12 km/l in the metros and 15 km/l on the highway. Expect it to be in the same ballpark with the Ameo.
The Ameo's high quality gearknob is a joy to hold. The throws are short and the shifts are smooth - you'll love it. The clutch is light enough to use, but the pedal's throw is longer than you'd expect in a small car.
As mentioned before, the engine is a big fail in the NVH department. On the other hand, insulation from road and tyre noise is satisfactory.
Ride & Handling
The suspension has a McPherson strut front and semi-independent trailing arm rear. This combination is exactly the same as the Polo & Vento. The hardware is well-tuned and feels decidedly European - it's a sweet setup for a mass market sedan. At low speeds, the suspension is compliant and easily absorbs road bumps. Owners will be kept comfortable on their daily drive to work. It's only the big or sharp bumps that make their presence felt inside the cabin. As the speedometer climbs, ride quality only gets better. The Ameo doesn't suffer from excessive vertical movement. What's more, at highway speeds, the li'l sedan dismisses rough roads with arrogance.
For a mass market family sedan, the Ameo exhibits good handling characteristics. Grip levels from the 185 mm MRF ZVTV tyres are satisfactory, with the Ameo holding her line through curves. Corner harder and some body roll is felt, but this is a mass market sedan after all. The dynamics are certainly superior to its competitors. High speed stability is excellent and the car is composed at 100 - 120 km/h. It's identical to the Polo in this department. A lot of Polo owners rave about the suspension's behaviour after upgrading to better quality rubber. That might be worth the investment.
Where the Ameo feels disappointing is the steering feel. While the electric power steering is accurate and weighs up at highway speeds (although not as much as enthusiasts would like), it offers very little feedback. On the positive side, it's light at city & parking speeds. This, along with the light clutch, delightful gearshifts & short gearing makes the Ameo easy to drive in urban conditions. While Volkswagen has not revealed the turning radius, we expect it to be similar to that of the Polo (4.97 m), which isn't as wide as the Zest (5.1 meters), yet not as small as the Amaze (4.7 meters) or Dzire (4.8 meters).
The ground clearance appears to be adequate. We took it off the road on a couple of occasions to photoshoot locations and the sedan didn't scrape its undercarriage anywhere.
Like other cars in its segment, the Ameo is equipped with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The brakes are strong & capable. The car had no problems stopping in a straight line even when we slammed on the brakes at 100 km/h. Only wish the pedal offered more feel. The Ameo comes with ABS as standard on all variants. The unit isn't intrusive and doesn't kick in too early.
3-cylinder unit is carried over from the Polo. Produces 74 BHP (@ 5,400 rpm) and 110 Nm of torque (@ 3,750 rpm):
ECU is mounted on the firewall:
Absolutely no insulation under the bonnet!
No insulation anywhere on the firewall either. A contributor to the poor NVH levels:
No protection sheet below means you can see the ground through the engine bay:
Volkswagen claims that it invested Rs. 720 crore in the development of the Ameo & setting up the production. We find this number incredibly hard to believe as it's a mere boot-adding exercise. In comparison, Maruti spent 120 crores on the Dzire (source). Even all-new cars like the Ciaz & Vitara Brezza cost 620 & 860 crore respectively (source & source). Either VW is exaggerating or it's highly inefficient.
Here's another reason why the figure looks unbelievable. If VW spent 720 crores on the Ameo, and assuming its net profit is 40,000 / car, the company will have to sell 180,000 Ameos just to break even!!!
Available in three variants - Trendline (base), Comfortline (mid) and Highline (top).
Service interval = 1 year / 15,000 km.
Standard warranty of 2 years / unlimited km. Extended warranty for another 2 years available (and highly recommended). 6 year anti-corrosion warranty is standard.
The other compact sedans offer a sizeable boot advantage over their hatchback siblings. With the Ameo, it's merely 36 liters (over the Polo). Keeping that in mind, the Ameo really doesn't offer much utility over its hatchback sibling. Between the two, we'll stick with the Polo due to its proportionate styling & superior engine range.
Has a laser-welded roof...a superior method as compared to spot welding (which most of its competitors use).
Nope, the Ameo won't be shared with Skoda.
VW says that the Ameo won't be sold to taxi operators. Just as well, considering that cramped back seat.
The Ameo is based on the 5th-generation Polo which is now 8 years old. It's going to feel outdated soon as the 6th-gen Polo might be unveiled next year.
1.5L diesel with 5-speed manual and 7-speed DSG is expected by Diwali. DSG will be available on the Comfortline and Highline variants. It'll have ESP and hill hold.
Fuel tank capacity = 45 liters. ARAI fuel efficiency rating = 17.83 km/l.
Available in 5 body colours - Blue Silk, Reflex Silver, Toffee Brown, Candy White and Carbon Steel.
The Ameo has a wheelbase of 2,470 mm - just 1 mm longer than the Polo's. We think the wheelbase is identical, and this difference is there due to the method of calculation (or maybe the axle position is slightly different?).
Depending on the variant, the Ameo weighs between 10 - 16 kilos more than the Polo.
The auto wipers & auto-dimming IRVM have no button that needs to be pressed. The features are on all the time! We love it this way.
Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited Team-BHP for the Ameo test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.
The Ameo's ad series that showcase its features are seriously cool clap:! Sample some of them below:
The Smaller yet Significant Things
Flippy key with boot release button in the middle. Here's a trick - with the key flipped out, long-press the unlock button and the windows roll down automatically. Similarly, with the key flipped out, long-press the lock button and the windows go up automatically. They start rolling up or down after ~3 seconds of the buttons being pressed:
Cruise control indicator lights up when the function is engaged:
17-digit VIN for the world to see! Found on the lower left side of the windshield:
Shut-lines get wider around the boot:
No separate unlock button or lever for the fuel flap. It's linked to the central locking system. Push the flap gently to open it. Recommended fuel and tyre pressure ratings are displayed on the inner side of the flap. Considering the fact that a diesel is coming, we wish there was a big 'PETROL' marking here:
45L fuel tank located just ahead of the rear axle:
Cladding for the undercarriage - viewed from the side:
Tyre noise is well controlled. Full cladding for the front wheel wells
and rear too!
Fuse box is located below the steering wheel:
Door open warning provided, but it doesn't specifically tell you which door is unsecured. Has a boot open warning as well:
Gearshift indicator suggests when to shift up or down. Newbies will like:
Plastic buttons to hold the floor mat in place:
Chief Competitors of the VW Ameo
What you’ll like:
• Competent engine range. Very refined motors
• Absorbent ride quality, even over rough roads. Neutral road manners too
• Terrific fuel efficiency, especially from the diesel
• Effortless to drive in the city; light steering, clutch and gearshift. Automatic transmission available
• Maruti’s excellent after-sales service & wide dealer network
What you won’t:
• Oddball boot design. Side profile looks particularly awkward
• Small 316L boot & no folding rear seat either. Limited practicality
• Mediocre brakes (LXi / LDi & VXi / VDi), just like the mechanically-identical Swift
• Limited rear seat space is incomparable to the Manza, Etios, Verito et al
• Hefty premium for the Automatic transmission variant
What you'll like:
• All-rounded package in a contemporary design
• Interiors have best-in-class fit, finish & quality. Accommodating 407 liter boot too
• Fuel-efficient, practical diesel & peppy petrol. Smooth gearbox
• Loaded with features (keyless start & go, reversing camera, rear air-con, cooled glovebox etc.)
• Comfortable ride quality and predictable handling
• Hyundai's fuss free ownership experience & excellent after-sales service
What you won't:
• 1.1L 3-cylinder diesel lacks the top-end punch of competition. Ordinary highway performance
• Steering & dynamics aren't to an enthusiast's tastes
• Narrow width makes it more suited as a 4 seater, rather than 5
• Boot aside, the premium i20 is closely priced with more power, space, equipment & refinement
• Adjustable front neck restraints, seat-belt height adjustment, full MID, auto-locking doors & dead pedal missing
What you'll like:
• An all-rounded compact sedan that does most things well
• Packaging brilliance. Roomier backseat than the Dzire, and a larger 400 Liter boot
• 1.5L i-DTEC engine offers good power & performance. Excellent driveability too
• Diesel's 25.8 kpl ARAI fuel economy rating
• Light controls, slick gearshift and easy maneuverability for in-city commuting. AT gearbox available
• Honda's reliability & fuss-free ownership experience
What you won't:
• Diesel's NVH is a full level poorer than the refined Maruti Dzire
• Not as dynamically accomplished as the Toyota Etios and others
• Diesel isn't as high-rpm friendly as the 1.3L MJD
• Some practical features missing
What you'll like:
• Aston Martin-esque face looks very stylish!
• Value for money price & positioning
• Powerful & efficient 1.5L diesel engine. Good driveability too
• Compliant ride quality. Suspension is tuned for comfort
• Dual airbags as standard (a segment first). Titanium+ variant gets 6 airbags!
• Well-packaged cabin offers adequate space, lots of features, comfy leather seats and a chilling air-con
• Dual-clutch Automatic with a bigger 1.5L petrol, ESP, traction control & hill start assist
What you won't:
• Commuter 1.2L petrol is unimpressive. A mediocre engine
• Drives like any other mass market sedan...but not like a Ford. Ordinary handling
• Lighter build quality isn't as solid as Fords usually are
• Cabin width makes the Aspire suited to 4 adults, not 5
• 14" rims & 175 mm tyres are too puny, especially for the fast diesel
• 359 liter boot is smaller than that of the Amaze & Xcent (~400 liters)
• AT unavailable in the fully-loaded trim. Period
What you'll like:
• India's first diesel-automatic in the C1 segment. Affordable, convenient & low running costs
• Build quality, fit and finish are on par with competitors. Tata has made significant improvements
• Spacious well-designed interiors & comfortable seats. A rare compact sedan that can seat 5 adults
• 1.2L turbo-petrol has class-leading torque and impressive low-end driveability
• Balanced suspension offers compliant ride quality mated to neutral handling. Nice EPS too
• Light controls, agreeable ergonomics and good refinement. Drives like no mass market Tata car has before
• Features: 3-driving modes (petrol), LED DRLs, projector headlamps, 5" touchscreen, parking sensors, voice commands & more
What you won't:
• When driven hard, the AMT can't match the smoothness & shift-times of a conventional automatic
• Turbo-petrol lacks mid-range punch and fails to excite at higher rpms. Not to an enthusiast's tastes
• Poor in-cabin storage & missing niceties (rear seat armrest, dead pedal, seatbelt height adjustment)
• Thick A-Pillars create severe blind spots while driving
• Concerns over long-term reliability & durability. Previous Tata cars haven't fared well in this area
• Tata's sub-par after-sales service quality is far from that of Maruti, Hyundai and Honda
Re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!
Brilliant review, Aditya. Rating a full 5 stars.
Re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
Excellent Review Aditya. Thanks for sharing.
Honestly, it is a mystery to me as to what VW has attempted with the Ameo. Getting into the compact sedan segment was a bad idea. But once they decided to get in, they should have planned to address 2 key must haves of a compact Sedan. Rear seat space and boot space. These are very important factors for buyers in this segment. They seemed to have gone with 'We need a boot. Nothing else matters'. Customers will flock in once they see a boot.
I wonder why they did not work off the Vento instead of the Polo, the longer wheelbase could have ensured decent rear seat space.
The other surprising thing was launching with the weak petrol after all the hard work and efforts that went into the launch, the marketing and the roadshows. As mentioned in the review, the maximum visibility is at the time of launch and not having the Diesel and Diesel DSG at launch is a big miss.
Will be very interesting to see the dispatch numbers. As per something I read earlier, VW is looking to increase capacity by 15% this year and most of it is for the Ameo. Considering current production, this translates into ~18000 units per year. Which means VW is not expecting to sell more than 1500-2000 units per month. If they can actually do that, it will be a big win considering the product.
Credit where it is due. Good to see no compromises on the build, Standard safety features, a good list of features and an excellent price. The diesel and DSG should do well- especially if it is in the Vento state of tune.
Re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
Somewhere along the lines, this feels like a product launch just for the heck of having a product in the segment. But again, except for GT twins and may be Vento for a brief period, none of the products sold are segment leaders in terms of sales. They are kept only to put up a VW face in the competition.
Even with diesel mil (if and when its launched) coming in, it lacks a lot on the practicality factor in terms of moving people and luggage. A little more thought process required here.
Good Luck VW.:thumbs up
Re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
The most lucrative customer segment for sub-sedans is the taxi fleet. Not sure how will, or will they i.e. 'VW' establish themselves for this segment, after spending a considerable amount on creating the Ameo.
Time will speak.
Needless to say fantastic review.
Re: Volkswagen Ameo : Official Review
Excellent review. VW design of Polo / Vento written all over it. They should have launched 1.2 L TSI with DSG and 1.5l TDI with DSG to gain some volumes. Safety, Build Quality, Ride and Handling are good, but rear seat leg room will be a concern though boot capacity many not be a deal breaker.
I did see one Ameo on the road last week in Bangalore. July sales report would give us an indication on the volumes.
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