01-10-2020

Volkswagen Vento Highline Plus Driven

REVIEWS-LITE

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10-years. 10 full years and the competition has updated their crop of C2-segment sedans atleast twice. While the competition really took itself seriously and to stay in the competition, they kept adapting to the market requirements while VAG group sat back and relaxed. 10-years into a product cycle, nothing has been done by Volkswagen to revive the volumes of their C2-segment sedan, the Vento.

I’ve lost count of the facelift, minor updates and sticker editions VW has given it to the Vento. Despite all that, VW has failed to equip it at par with the competition when it comes to creature comforts and gadgetry inside the car. What also doesn’t work in favour of VW is the ambitious pricing of the Vento given its shortcomings. Despite knowing the Vento feels old in 2020, why would you buy one? Read on to know why.

Volkswagen first launched the Vento along with the Polo back in 2010. At launch, it was offered with a 1.6 TDI diesel engine mated to a 5-speed Manual transmission along with a 1.6 MPI Naturally Aspirated Petrol engine mated to a 5-speed Manual transmission/6-speed Torque Converter Automatic. Same engine and transmission options were on offer till 2013, when VW started offering the ubiquitous 1.2 TSI with a 7-speed DSG in addition to the existing lineup of engines. The 6-speed TC however was dropped when the DSG came in. The 1.6 TDI was later retired and was replaced with a 1.5 TDI which was localised. The 1.5 TDI was offered with both Manual and DSG. This crop of engine options continued to be in duty until BS6 emission norms dawned upon VW. VW decided to do away with the diesels entirely during this transition and also chose to drop their old powertrain options in favour of a more modern 1.0 TSI.

Design Language: Exteriors

Nothing much has changed on the exterior front. The Vento continues to carry the same design it received as a part of the facelift in 2019. The test car we sampled was the TSI edition (based on Highline Plus; now discontinued) which comes in a dual tone colour scheme and the cheesy “TSI Edition” livery all around.

The front end looks exactly like the updated Polo facelift. Vento, as like the Polo gets a GTI-spec bumper with honeycomb grille and LED headlamps are reserved for the Vento. While the updated face looks smart, there’s no hiding of the Vento's age. It still looks old.

Side profile is reminiscent of the Rapid. Side profile also gets a side skirt inspired from the GTI. The side skirt isn’t very prominent and isn’t exactly a side skirt either; better called a beading that runs all through the side profile. The TSI-edition stickering is specific to this car.

The rear profile remains unchanged except for the rear bumper which gets a diffuser and a single exhaust tip sticking out. Neatly done up. The taillights are the same as the 2015 Vento, so is the boot lid and overall layout.

To sum things up, the Vento’s design has surely aged gracefully atleast on the exterior front. It might not have the sloping roofline and a myriad of cuts and creases like most of its competitors do, but that’s what sets it apart from the rest. The overall styling is a please all and offend none proposition.

Overall build quality is something that remains the best in segment. The weight of the doors and thickness of sheet metal does enough to inspire confidence and so does the fact that the car the Vento is fundamentally based on the Polo, scored 4 stars in Global NCAP crash tests.

Design Language: Interiors

The interiors on the Vento remain unchanged for the most part. They surely show their age. There are no soft plastics inside the cabin but the overall plastic quality is pretty good. Despite the presence of the hard plastics, they don’t look cheap. The quality of switchgear inside the car is good for the most part save for the knob which is used to fold and unfold the outside rear view mirrors. The glovebox houses a chiller and is illuminated as well.

All the four doors come equipped with auto up and down for the windows (a nifty feature which a lot of cars still don’t offer) and yes, all the four windows can be winded and unwinded using the key (helps on a hot day). The Vento comes equipped with a RCD340G headunit which supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, et al. This also gets a reversing camera which surely does help the driver in assisting him/her when reversing.

The dual-tone beige and black colour scheme works for the most part and does help in brightening up the cabin. The front seats in the Vento are supportive for the most part, save for the lumbar support. Absence of the same can be felt at times on long drives. The rear seat in the Vento is a good place to be in with more than adequate space for the passengers. The seat is supportive and the under thigh support is good for someone who’s fairly tall at 5-feet and 11-inches. With the front seat set to my height, I had more than enough room to stretch out a bit. The fifth occupant isn’t welcome in the Rapid. The intrusion in the footwell for the middle occupant can be a bit of a problem for the fifth occupant.

Vento in its fully loaded iteration does come equipped with 4-airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC and TCS (on the new 6-speed Automatic only) while the lower variants get dual airbags and ABS with EBD as standard when it comes to active and passive safety of the occupants.

Performance: Engine and gearbox

As said earlier, all the older engine options are no more available in light of BS6 norms. The 1.0 TSI is a 3-cylinder turbocharged Petrol engine which puts out a healthy 110-ps and 175-nm of torque. This engine is currently paired to a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed Torque Converter Automatic transmission.

The 1.0 TSI in a nutshell is easily one of the best turbo-petrol mills available under the 10-lac rupee mark. For someone who loves driving their cars fast will fall in love with this powertrain. This paired to a 6-speed manual is a hoot to drive. The 6-speed manual gearbox is slick and its fun using the gearbox while on the move. The clutch is fairly light but the travel is a bit longer that what I usually prefer.

At idle, the refinement levels are acceptable but one can make a clear note of the vibrations inside the cabin. Nothing alarming and users will be used to these in no time. A small price to pay to enjoy what’s under the hood but Skoda could’ve done a better job on this front.

Low-end drivability isn’t the best with the 1.0 TSI. While in most of the cases, the car will pull from a lower speed in a higher gear, the progress is a lot slower till the 2,000-rpm mark. The story however goes for a flip when it breaches the 2,000-rpm mark. If you want to make a quick move, downshift and get moving. Post 2,000-rpm, the car’s a hoot to drive. It pulls nice and clean till the 6,500-rpm redline. Midrange is explosive and you’ll find yourself in the 3,000-rpm to 5,500-rpm rev range for most of the times if you’re a spirited driver. The TSI is also an efficient cruiser if you choose to go easy on yourself and the car. 100-kmph in 6th gear at ~ 2,100-rpm with the cruise control engaged should be a smooth sail.

Performance- Ride and Handling

This is that one area where the Vento remains unchanged to date (in a good way). Like earlier, the Rapid comes with an independent McPherson strut front suspension and a compound link crank axle at the rear. This is easily the benchmark for this segment; despite the fact that VW and Skoda have moved to more inferior and localised dampers from Gabriel.

The car manages to ride well in the city and on the highway. Bumps are nicely ironed out, although larger potholes come in strong. High speed stability isn’t compromised and car feels stable at cruising speeds and sudden lane changes don’t affect the car much. There’s a hint of bodyroll when you take a corner really fast, but that’s about it. For someone who appreciates handling, there are better and expensive aftermarket upgrades available for the springs and the dampers. The Vento (and its sibling from the sister company) maintain the balance of straight-line stability and overall ride and handling.

The Verdict

At the very start, I’d raised a question for the readers, “Why would someone buy a 10-year old car which is long past its product cycle?”. For starters, Vento despite its shortcomings is a very sorted car when it comes to the core fundamentals. For someone who really appreciate factors like build quality, safety, performance and can make do with a few fancy gadgetry, the Vento won’t disappoint them.

But then, the price seems to be a deterrent in an otherwise a reasonable package. Well, the Vento isn’t a volume seller to start off with. That’s a good thing for a prospective customer because one can land in a pretty good deal for the car. Then, the obvious question arises, “Which one of the two siblings should I choose from; the Vento or the Rapid?”. If your budget is really tight and want the most bang for the buck when it comes to the basic creature comforts, Rapid should be your pick. However, if you really can stretch past 10-lac mark, I’d simply suggest the Vento purely for that RCD340 headunit and two additional airbags that you get over the top-end Style/Monte Carlo variant in the Rapid.

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Volkswagen

About Author
Varun Chiduruppa
Varun Chiduruppa

At 18, Varun has got quite some experience of reviewing cars. He has a keen eye for attention-to-detail and even the smallest of things can't escape his eye. Varun as senior reviewer, ensures nothing misses from him eyes when he is reviewing the cars that come to him. 


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