Volkswagen might have been whipping out well built, delectable fare from their German kitchen until now. But in a country where even Chinese food isn’t relished until it has been treated with a ‘desi’ twist, they finally had to give in to the Indian palette. Serve something that doesn’t cost too much and yet fulfills the strange Indian appetite for a compact 3-box sedan. Say hello then to the Made in and for India, Volkswagen Ameo (Pronounced as ‘Uh-Mayo’).
Volkswagen Ameo Styling
Like all other compact sedans, the Volkswagen Ameo too is a well known hatchback when you see it upfront. In fact, unless your vision moves beyond the rear door, it is every bit a Polo. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it sort of vacuums out the all-new feeling attached with a new product. That holds true for all the sub-4 meter sedans in the market though. Having said that, the Ameo does borrow the subtle elegance and timeless charm from the Polo, which is a good thing.
Move towards the rear, and you’d notice that the stubby little boot has been integrated rather well. And although it won’t win beauty contests, it doesn’t look odd either. The pronounced shoulder line merges well with the boxy tail light, which gets conventional illumination.
A strong pleat on the boot does well to mimic an integrated spoiler, while the registration plate sits bang in the middle, surrounded by some pronounced creases, absence of which would’ve made the rear look drab otherwise. Unlike the Polo, the VW logo doesn’t double up as a boot opener and the Ameo gets a conventional system above the licence plate.
In entirety, given the length constraints, the Ameo is a well executed design that along with the Ford Aspire gets our vote for standing out as the two better looking products in the compact sedan crowd.
Volkswagen Ameo Performance
The Volkswagen Ameo is powered by a 1198cc, 3 cylinder petrol motor. Devoid of any turbocharger, it makes 75PS @ 5400 rpm and 110Nm at 3750 rpm. Once cranked to life, the traditional shivers from an odd cylinder configuration are well contained, or almost absent, although the engine is vocal and even inside the cabin, one can tell what lies beneath.
Shift into first and making steady progress within town is easy. The motor scores high on driveability, as even in 4th gear at speeds of 30 kph it ticks slightly above the 1000 rpm mark and soldiers on without protest. But then it sort of bogs down when you have to make a move on. Unless you’re in the right gear and have dialed in revs beyond the 2k mark, momentum is sluggish.
Out on the highway, the motor calls for frequent downshifts so that the Ameo can carve its way through traffic and you’ll have to back out if you’re caught stuck in the wrong gear. Getting till 100 kph isn’t a sprint and if you wish to look at even bigger numbers on the speedometer, progress beyond the ton is a sluggish affair. If a situation calls for you to come to a standstill on an incline, you’d have to dial in quite a lot of revs and slip the clutch to move further. Which is also when a slight amount of that 3-cylinder shiver raises its ugly head. Engage reverse and you’d have to repeat those actions.
Where this engine shines out though is on the economy front. We gave it a good amount of thrashing all day – drove it through town, made it rev till its 6000 rpm limiter on the highway and drove with a mashed pedal in lower gears through some twisties. By EOD, the onboard computer showed us an average figure of 14.1 kpl. Which in all honesty, even by small capacity petrol engine standards, is a great figure.
Volkswagen Ameo Ride & Handling
Like the Polo, the Ameo too is dynamically sorted and shares the hatchback’s composed road manners. It sits squat on the tarmac and is impressively stable at high speeds. It rides brilliantly through broken sections and dismisses potholes with a firm demeanour. The Ameo glides through uneven dips and crests, where the entire package remains predictable and allows you to carry higher than normal speeds.
Enthusiastic driving through bends calls for a little body roll, but then that is a trade off for that ride quality. The steering feels great to hold, is light at city speeds and builds some artificial weight as the going gets fast. The front disc and rear drum setup brings things to a halt in a nicely progressive manner. Thankfully, ABS isn’t a luxury reserved only for the higher variants.
Volkswagen Ameo Interiors
If you’ve been inside a Polo, you’ve been inside an Ameo. But the great part is that the same high quality cabin is now available a lower price point on this compact sedan. Fit and finish is great, quality of materials used for this segment is above average and things inside exude a sense of premium. We were happy to see that none of the headrests were integrated in the backrest like they are on some of the Ameo’s competition.
The instrument cluster, rake and reach adjustable flat bottom steering wheel, center console and everything is a straight lift from the Polo. What you also get is high quality stalks and buttons, one touch up-down function on all four windows, and a height adjustable driver’s seat. Honoring local taste, VW has fitted the Ameo with a touch screen infotainment system which also doubles up as a screen for the reversing camera.
A center armrest with some storage space adds to the comfort quotient. But then it makes you think otherwise whilst you’re driving, because if you’re resting your arm on it, your wrist has to fall down at a 90 degree angle and manage gear shifts.
Glovebox gets cooling function
Backseat space in the Ameo isn’t what you’d call opulent. VW has even scooped out the front seat backrest to leverage some more legroom, but even that doesn’t help when you’ve got a 6 foot driver and an equally tall backseat passenger. In those instances, your knees touch the backrest if your feet aren’t below the front seat, and when you slide them below the front seat, your shin is in constant touch with the backrest’s edge. A way around that is to keep your knees apart and create this sort of ‘V’ between your legs. If you’ve got not so tall occupants though, it is easy to be comfortable in the backseat as under thigh support is good and the backrest angle is optimal.
Boot space at 330 liters isn’t class leading, but will serve your purpose if you aren’t carrying your world everywhere you go. The loading bay is pretty wide though and is set at an easily accessible height, which will make it easy to slide in/out those big, heavy cases.
The tail light looks too boxy when viewed head on
Boot or no boot?
ORVMs get integrated blinkers
Full marks for not parting ways with adjustable headrests
Rear window won’t go all the way down like the Polo
First-in-class static cornering lights
ABS and twin airbags are standard across variants
Touchscreen system is pretty smooth functionality wise
Warm ambient lighting gets our vote
Volkswagen Ameo Verdict
With prices starting from Rs 5.14 lakh (Ex-showroom, Mumbai), the Volkswagen Ameo brings the premium VW badge to a pricepoint that will appeal to many. But what surprised us is the fact that even at this price, the Ameo somehow still reeks of a high quality product. We had a Polo GT as a support car, and even when I switched cabins a few times, I never felt shortchanged or was struck by the feeling of being in a lesser car. The petrol engine sure requires you to work hard if you have to make a move on, but serves its purpose in everyday practical situations and is economical too.
VW will launch the diesel variants sometime soon and one of them will come fitted with their brilliant DSG system. Until then, If you relish your Aldersbacher in the evening and reach out for that Jalebi after your meals, if a practical compact sedan is what you’re after and you want one which has been built well and comes with the repute of a premium badge, do take a look at the Uh Mayo.
Volkswagen Ameo Features:
- Body colored bumpers, detailing in chrome
- Chrome applique on door handles
- Alloy wheels
- Static cornering light (1st in segment)
- Rain sensing wipers (1st in segment)
- Cruise control (1st in segment)
- Front center armrest (1st in segment)
- Anti-pinch power windows – Front & Rear (1st in segment)
- Rear AC vent
- “Climatronic” automatic AC with dust & pollen filter
- Electrically adjustable & foldable ORVMs with turn indicators
- Cooled glove box
- Auto dimming IRVM
- Tilt & telescopic steering wheel
- Leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel
- Small leather package (gearshift knob)
- Driver seat, height adjustable
- Rear seat one piece fold
- Multifunction display
- Central locking, remote control
- Rear view camera with parking sensors
- ABS (standard in all variants)
- Driver & Passenger airbag (standard in all variants)
- Lane change indicator
- Fog lights – front and rear
- Electronic anti-theft immobilizer
- Touchscreen multimedia music system
- Radio, CD MP3 player
- SD Card Reader
- 4 speakers
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Mirror link
- Voice control
- I-pod connectivity
- Phonebook / SMS viewer
|Petrol 1.2 MPI||Trendline||5,13,864||5,24,300|
Volkswagen Ameo Specifications: