Home / News / Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Road Test – Driver’s Choice, Passenger’s Favourite

 

Is the Volkswagen Vento still the car to buy in this segment? What magic has the TSI woven into it? As usual, we drive it to find out

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

It has been a while since I felt this way while driving a car in this segment. The drive out of the city was comfortable but the run up the hill was exhilarating. The eyes gathered information in heaps, the brain worked overtime to process it and then relay the right messages to my limbs. Part of me remained calm and enjoyed the drive to the maximum because I was fully convinced that the car would go as the hands directed it and that horsepower would come galloping when beckoned by the right foot, thanks to the turbo that spun like a kid who had too much sugar. What is even more remarkable was that the car I was driving was not entirely new. In fact, so little has changed over the years that the Volkswagen Vento’s silhouette is unmistakable — even in this 1.0 TSI form.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

Spread across these pages is the latest iteration of the Vento and this is the manual variant in Highline Plus trim. The car continues to be distinctly German by refusing to sacrifice its clean and neat lines for cuts and curves. With the stylish 16-inch wheels, updated front end, and dual-tone exterior, the Vento continues to look like it means business in the same way a three-piece suit does. However, this one is just as comfortable in casuals on a Friday. Come to think of it, that does work in its favour because the Vento has always been a car for the no-nonsense driver who chooses elegance over extravagance and performance over promises. In that respect, I like the Vento, too; however, any driver will click their tongue in disapproval on closer inspection of the “dual-tone” paint job. From close quarters, it is evident that the roof has not been painted but stickered and the difference in finish is noticeable. When shelling out Rs 12.37 lakh (ex-showroom), one does expect better.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

The Vento’s cabin is plush and cosy, front and rear seats alike, packing all the essentials for the modern driver. In true German fashion, all of it has been laid out thoughtfully as well — everything is within reach and not much hinders the driving experience. The fact that the car continues to be relevant even though it has not changed much highlights just how good it was to begin with. I was able to appreciate VW’s foresight and planning when I shifted to the rear seat. In the pursuit of keen driving dynamics, the Vento has not compromised on rear-seat comfort and that makes it appealing to a larger spectrum of buyers. Rear a-c vents, a lever (within reach of the rear-seat occupant) to increase leg-room, and good seats are the noteworthy aspects of the car’s chauffeur-driven side. Barring a very poorly made driver’s arm-rest, the Vento maintains its remarkable levels of quality but falls short when you list out its features. For example, there is only one USB port while most cars today have at least two, no vented seats and so on. That may cause a 2000s kid to pout and sulk but, behind the wheel, I was not bothered by any of it. Allow me to explain.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

In this iteration, the Vento’s biggest change lies under the bonnet. The 1.0-litre, turbo-charged, three-cylinder engine is compact, sure, but not much has been wasted. The TSI (turbo-charged stratified injection) badge means that each cubic centimetre’s potential has been used well. In terms of numbers, that translates into 110 hp and 175 Nm. Unlike many of its rivals, the Vento does not get a button start. You turn the switchblade-type key to fire it up and that sets the tone for the rest of the drive.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

The driving experience in the Vento is mechanical and precise; movements of the Swiss watch variety. The gear-shifts are tactile, they require you to grab the lever and slot it into the gate as opposed to lazily tapping it back and forth. The steering is weighted well to return ample feedback and, at high speed, it remains stable and responds predictably to precise inputs. Yes, that means it is not easy to drive this one around with one hand. Honestly, I fully support that because while driving, both hands belong on the steering wheel.

After chugging along in town and being held up by mobile call centres, one thing was clear: the Vento is a comfortable car in the city. The ride quality is sublime and it handles poor roads well. It is easy to drive and keeps you relaxed as well but the TSI engine felt uninspiring below 1,700 rpm. To find out what exactly it is capable of above that mark, I steered the Vento towards a quiet ribbon of tarmac.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

On that road, the car came into its own. The engine’s sweet spot begins just after 1,700 rpm and from there onwards it rides a healthy wave of torque all the way to the 6,500-rpm red-line. Of course, with well-timed shifts, the experience just gets better. Enter a corner with some weight over the front wheels and the car will steer nicely with minimal understeer, bolstering you with the confidence to try it again… and again… and again. Maybe, until you run out of fuel. Speaking of which, the on-board computer’s readout was rather consistent throughout our test and we got a healthy 12.0 km/litre in the city and up to 17.0 km/litre on the highway. With a 55-litre fuel-tank that does make for a good range.

Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI

In today’s market, the Vento goes up against the Honda City, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Škoda Rapid 1.0 TSI, and Hyundai Verna, arranged in order of pricing. When pitted against some of them, the Vento does miss out on a few conveniences and infotainment features, but not enough to rule it out of contention because with the 1.0 TSI, the Vento and the Rapid are the torquiest of the lot.

In summary, I really like the Vento for being a driver’s machine and a comfortable passenger car at the same time. Barring a couple of items, the car is remarkably well put together with material of good quality. In spite of being visually subtle, the Vento continues to be a package that will attract only the most sensible of drivers who respect their car as much as they respect other peoples’ right to use the road. Also, if you want to find joy in driving, this one is a good place to begin.

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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