Home / Reviews / First Drive / New Volkswagen Virtus Aims for the Goosebumps

 

It isn’t often a car gives one the goosebumps but, with the new Volkswagen Virtus, can the Wolfsburg marque deliver just those?

new Volkswagen Virtus

Story: Jim Gorde

The new Volkswagen Virtus steps into the dwindling premium sedan space as an all-new model. Built on the new MQB-A0-IN architecture, overseen by the collective effort known as Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd, the Virtus, like the Slavia, is a distinctly stylish sedan that offers a combination of unique design and eye-catching features. However, VW were always expected to deliver a sportier alternative and I can safely say they have delivered indeed.

new Volkswagen Virtus

The new Volkswagen Virtus looks like an evolution of the Vento it replaces with more than a few vibes of the more premium Jetta which went out much longer ago. At 4,761 millimetres long, the Virtus is much longer than the Vento. It’s even longer than the first Jetta to launch here. In fact, at present, it’s the longest sedan in its segment—which consists of the Skoda Slavia, Honda City, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Hyundai Verna. The sedan segment has seen a slight drop in sales overall no thanks to the compact SUV body style and below average road surfaces making them seem like the smarter choice, yet there are a few who have not given up. The new Volkswagen Virtus, then, hopes to give the segment the kick-start it needs.

We were in Amritsar for the drive, surrounded by beige and green hues with hot sun, all of which made this Wild Cherry Red new Volkswagen Virtus GT pop. Yes, we drove the sportier GT first. Armed with the 1.5 TSI four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine, the Virtus GT has a healthy 150 hp and 250 Nm available. It goes through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto “DirectShift Gearbox”, or signature VW DSG, to the front wheels. This engine also has Active Cylinder Technology which cuts two cylinders under low laid conditions. This engine, and the smaller, three-cylinder 1.0 TSI, are both equipped with start-stop technology as well, for improved fuel consumption. And it’s very well calibrated might I add.

Our route took us through some bustling city roads as well as narrow farm streets and on to the open highway. The new Volkswagen Virtus fit right in, feeling like a Polo GT in the handling department. Although, sharing its platform with the Taigun means it doesn’t have that low-slung sedan feel. The large, flat-bottom steering wheel with easy controls and the colour display behind it look neat and there’s a new centre touchscreen unit for added connectivity and smartphone integration. The dash and panels have red highlights—exclusive to this exterior colour option. The cabin comfort is excellent with wide and long seats. The front pair are ventilated in this trim level. The sunroof and premium audio add to its appeal. The 1.5, for now anyway, only gets the one solitary fully-loaded trim. The rear too offers good space too with occupants having more than adequate head-, knee- and elbow-room.

new Volkswagen Virtus

Get going and the Virtus is quick! It will hit highway speeds rapidly gunning up the gears. There’s no delay or shift lull, it goes bang, bang, bang through the gears as the speedo clambers for higher numbers. It is truly exhilarating to drive. Even at near Autobahn cruising speeds, it’s flat, planted and stable. Of course, there are a slew of electronic aids as well, including stability and traction control as well as cruise control, among others. It’s not short of any of the good stuff. It feels robust, well-built and actually feels more capable than its sporty sedan stance makes one first believe.

Of course, with Taigun underpinnings, that’s a given. It can deal with rough and no-road conditions and take all sorts of broken surfaces in its stride. Its Skoda genes also mean it has a huge 521-litre boot. For an expected price tag of Rs 17.5 lakh or thereabouts, the new Virtus GT looks set to offer an almost Jetta-level upgrade to both Polo and Vento owners, as well as draw a new set of customers in with its no-nonsense build, appeal and modern styling.

new Volkswagen Virtus

New Volkswagen Virtus TSI

We also drove “TSI” badged Virtus 1.0 TSI, the smaller of the two turbo-petrol engines. Even so, with 115 hp and 178 Nm, the little-hearted sedan has some big and sprightly performance. There will be a choice of trim levels on offer here, expected to be Comfortline, Highline and Topline as with the Taigun, and the price should be in the Rs 11-16 lakh ballpark.

The exterior is identical to the GT, save for the grille devoid of the “GT” badge, the black wheels replaced with silver-finish rims, and the rear badged “TSI” instead. Look below and there’s another tell: a single exhaust pipe instead of the GT’s two.

On the return journey, the 1.0 TSI felt just as eager to go, with a three-cylinder thrum emanating from the engine as it piles on the revs under hard acceleration being the only distinguishing factor. The technical difference extends to the use of a six-speed torque-converter, or fluid coupling, instead of the mechanical DSG. This is one reason it feels more eager to go in stop-go traffic and has a higher idle speed once I lift off the brake but before I step on the throttle.

All in all, Volkswagen look like they have a winner at hand. We look forward to putting the duo through a test in more familiar surroundings for an even more incisive report.

Also Read: Volkswagen ID. Buzz Unveiled

 

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible future.
t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia

 

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