Volkswagen showcased the Ameo as its first ‘Made For India’ car model just before the 2016 Auto Expo. The car was launched later, but only with a 1.2-litre Petrol heart. It instantly became a big seller for the German carmaker. A diesel-powered Ameo was expected sooner than later. And Volkswagen launched the same, powered by a reworked 1.5-litre TDi Diesel engine with also an option of a first in segment 7-Speed DSG Automatic transmission just last week, in line with the long Indian festive season. We drive the highly anticipated Ameo Diesel around some rainy roads outside Mumbai to get you this exclusive road test review.
Food For Thought: The Ameo is Volkawagen’s first sub 4-metre sedan for India that is marketed with a punch line of ‘German engineering with an Indian Heart’. Based on the Polo premium hatch, the Ameo is in fact cheaper than the car it is based on. Ameo Diesel becomes the 1st in class sub 4-metre compact sedan to be equipped with a 7-speed DSG Automatic transmission.
The exteriors of the Ameo Diesel are identical to that of the Petrol one. You can jump to our Ameo Petrol review following this link. The Ameo shares a lot of its exterior styling with the car that it is based on, the Polo. The face also reminds you of the larger Vento. The face looks very much like the Polo’s, but with a slightly restyled bumper. The headlights are made up of twin barrel halogen lamps. You get a thick chrome strip that runs in an inverted U pattern across the bumper in the air dam area. You have wide design fog lamps with cornering lights, which is a unique feature of this segment. The bonnet gets the same bodyline that the Polo has, which flows back towards the windshield.
The Ameo gets its sides ditto like the Polo, except for slightly larger and restyled side fenders and a different tail, or rather the boot that this compact sedan comes with. The car drives on 185/60 R15 spec Apollo Alnac tubeless tyres mounted on multispoked silver alloys. We like the slim chrome lining that the door handles have on the Ameo. The window frames come with blacked-out masking on them. The sharp waistline makes the sides look dynamic. The extended boot is a flat design with squarish tail lamps. The rear bumper is an altogether different design as compared to that of the Polo. The Ameo Diesel gets the TDi badging on the boot lid making this the only difference as compared to its petrol sibling.
The interiors remain the same as that of the petrol Ameo. A well-laid out dashboard made out of good quality plastics and a very clear to read instrumentation, make for the dual-tone dash area. The red-line on the RPM meter is marked at the 5500 rpm on the Diesel, as against the 6500 rpm on the Petrol version. The steering continues to get the 3-spoke design with some glossy inserts and the multifunction control buttons. Steering comes with manual adjust for height and reach. Both, the Diesel manual and automatic version, get the cruise control feature.
The dashboard comes with the colored touch-screen display for tuning into FM or playing music and also doubles up as a reverse camera screen. You also get mobile phone connectivity, Mirror Link, voice control and Bluetooth connectivity on this head unit. USB, AUX-In and SD card reader also come in the multimedia package along with a 4-speaker system audio. Seats come with fabric upholstery. The driver’s seat has height adjust and also a foldable height adjustable armrest with storage space under it.
The rear seats get a pair of adjustable headrests. Climate control is a single zone unit with vents also for the rear passengers placed between the front seats. The rear seat backrest is at a slightly more inclined angle on the Ameo, as compared to the Polo, which has a bit more upright backrest, thus adding to the comfort factor.
You get Cruise Control, Rain Sensing Wipers, Front and Rear Anti-Pinch Power Windows, opening and closing of the windows with the remote key, One-touch Auto Up and Down in the package. Boot space is that of 330 litres, which can be increased if needed, by folding down the rear seat. What stands out for the Ameo is the quality of the interiors, features and its build.
Engine – Transmission – Drive:
The Petrol Ameo comes with a 3-cylinder 1.2-litre engine which is decent and does a fairly good job. The Diesel version gets a proper 4 cylinder 1.5-litre TDi Diesel engine (code named EA189) that makes 110 PS of power which is 5 PS more than the current Polo GT and Vento Diesel. This bump in power is due to some slight changes to the engine that includes a larger turbocharger now in place. This engine belts out 250 Nm of torque and gets mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or the renowned 7-speed DSG auto transmission.
Start the engine and you instantly notice the refinement inside the cabin. It is a bit noisy on the outside but in-cabin insulation is top class. In fact, the Ameo diesel has a quieter cabin than the diesel Polo. On the move, this 1.5-litre TDi engine feels full of power and surges ahead rather quickly. This car is super fun to drive as the power-to-weight ratio works in its favour, making this a pocket-rocket. Mid range engine performance is extremely strong and there is a lot of power in reserve for overtaking or high speed runs.
We loved the super quick 7-speed DSG transmission for its brilliant shifts and super smooth, jitter-free gear changes. Volkswagen claims a fuel economy of 21.66 kmpl for the manual and 21.78 kmpl for the DSG Automatic. We fell in love with the DSG Automatic variant for its sheer graceful, yet quick ride quality, and drive pleasure. You are amused at times when you see on the MFD display on the instrument cluster that the car is driving on the 7th gear at speeds as low as 70kmph. You also have the tip-tronic mode to play with, and the sport mode where shifts hold on to the revs for a bit longer, giving the engine more punch power. This easily becomes the quickest compact sedan currently.
The steering is tuned to the heavier side and we would have liked it being a bit lighter. On the manual, the gear shifts are positive and very precise, via the short throw shifter. Clutch travel on the MT is long and could be a bit lighter too, but then, these are heavy duty ones we are told, as on all Volkswagens. There is tons of torque available at all speeds and this helps driving the Ameo at any gear that you slot it in. The suspension is tuned to the stiffer side and this helps in the drive pleasure. Potholes and speed breakers are well won over by this car.
On the safety front, you get front two air bags and ABS as standard across all trims, which is an excellent move by the German carmaker. There is rear view camera, ESP (only DSG), hill hold (only DSG), lane change indicator, immobilizer etc in the package.
Volkswagen has got all the right ingredients for its first ‘Make For India’ car. It has gotten even better now with the robust, powerful and highly refined diesel engine. The DSG version is easily the best, most comfortable to drive and the most powerful car in the segment. Then you get the patent German build quality, loads of features for its class and the pricing (cheaper than the Polo) thanks to the high level of localization in its favour. Should you buy one? Yes, why not?! We would go with the 7-Speed DSG right away.
Volkswagen Ameo Diesel Photo Gallery: