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We all tend to look for something in life and we end up getting it sooner or later, depending on what we are looking for and where. Take, for example, the premium C-segment. If you are looking for a good automatic transmission in this segment, then there are two obvious choices – the dominant Honda City or its new challenger, the Volkswagen Vento. Both these cars have several great features to offer and sport a fine auto-box, yet the two cars are completely different when it comes to driving characteristics and design philosophy.
The City has been the master of this territory for almost a decade now. Although several other global giants have tried to invade the City’s domain, none has succeeded in dethroning Honda. In fact, Honda’s grip only became stronger and currently they are selling the third generation of this sedan in India. And now Volkswagen have brought about a price war in this segment by launching the Vento. Last month our magazine pitted the Volkswagen sedan against its rivals and the German car emerged victorious. This month the battle is taken to the next step – the automatic warfare.
Sighting competition, the City has also upped its game by launching a new variant with an improved interior and new alloy wheels, among other frills. This Japanese warrior is powered by a 1,497-cc motor, one of the most accomplished mills in this segment, that produces 118 PS, which is 13 PS more than what the Vento’s larger 1,598-cc motor produces. On the torque front, the City delivers a linear 146 Nm against the 153 Nm that the Vento’s mill churns out. It’s neck to neck right from the word ‘Go’. This is going to be one gruelling contest.
Both the cars feature a normal hydraulic torque converter, but have different speed auto gearboxes. The Honda motor is mated with a fine five-speed automatic that compliments the refined engine by delivering seamless power. The car takes off the moment you step on the pedal and the gear ratios feel precise and sporty. Although it is driven by an automatic transmission, overtaking other vehicles is effortless and the car feels spirited and fun to drive. The Vento gets a six-speed auto box and I feel the German engineers have tuned the powertrain with the city driver in mind. No pun intended. The Vento’s engine is also very refined and offers peak power from 5,250 rpm. Peak torque is also available right from 3,800 rpm. But it up-shifts on lower rpm, which makes the car feel lethargic in comparison to the peppy City. Things improve a little for the Vento when we move the gear-shift to the ‘S’ (sport) mode, which makes the gear changes what the name suggests – more sporty. The City has paddle shifts on the steering wheel, which are ideal when you feel like taking things in your own hands. This adds to the driving pleasure if you are an enthusiast. If you aren’t, then this will surely make you one. The City also returns better fuel economy of 15.9 km/l against the Vento’s 12 km/l, overall.
The City is one up as of now, but ride and handling turn the tables. The Vento’s steering weighs nicely for a car of this size and renders accurate feedback. The City’s, on the other hand, has a light feel which is fine within city traffic, but isn’t much fun at higher speeds. Both the cars ride on 15” wheels, the Vento on wider 185/60 R15 tyres and the City on taller 175/65 R15 ones.


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