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There’s a slight dampness in the air, which makes it a mite chilly, but the little sunshine every now and then drives the chill away. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful day!
In these pleasant environs we have five cars with us – the newly launched Volkswagen Vento, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Verna, Maruti SX4 and Fiat Linea.  It’s the Vento, of course, that attracts much of the attention; this is as close to a built-for-India car as any from Volkswagen. All the five cars on test with us are petrol-powered, with 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engines, save for the Linea, which has a 1.4-litre motor. Understandably, this capacity disadvantage might hamper the Linea’s chances, but more on that later.

The Volkswagen Vento
Design and Style
The Vento arouses a lot of interest and comments, simply because it is the newest of the bunch. The Polo-derived styling is evident up to the B-pillar, but thereafter it is all new. The distinguishing factor is the fog lights – the Vento has two round units in place of the angular fog lamps on the Polo. In profile, it looks like an all-new car and not a hatch with a boot stuck on, which is refreshing. Overall, it retains the typically sober VW styling with simple, square-cut lines. The emphasis is on the finish and the quality of the Vento’s panels and paint have to be seen to be believed. The Vento Trendline in this comparo actually comes with 14-inch steel wheels, but our test car had the 15-inch alloys from the higher-spec Highline variant.

Interior and comfort
Once again, the Vento is reminiscent of its smaller sibling and the dashboard and front seats are almost exactly the same as in the Polo. The front seats are comfortable even after long hours, while the driving ergonomics aren’t taxing even after long stints behind the wheel. The firm seat padding may not feel as plush as some of the others, but you begin to appreciate this on longer drives. I’m not too convinced about the ‘Livon’ upholstery, though; it may be robust, but seems to stain easily and doesn’t add an aura of luxury to the cabin. Where the Vento truly scores is the acres of leg room you get, aided, no doubt, by the long wheelbase of the car.
Similarly, the layout of the dashboard and the material used are faultless, but one can’t help but wish the cabin had a little more flair.


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