Home / Reviews / Volkswagen Virtus GT Plus 1.5 MT Test Review – Completing the Enthusiast’s Package

 

Volkswagen finally adds a third pedal option for the Virtus’ most potent engine. Is it enough to be the final piece of the enthusiast sedan puzzle?

Story: Gaurav Davare

Photography: Apurva Ambep

Ever since the Volkswagen Virtus went on sale in June 2022, it has in a way re-invigorated the vogue of sedans in India during a time when sport utility vehicles (SUV) dominate the scene. More importantly, the Virtus also re-ignited the topic of enthusiast sedans in the country, considering that it impressed with its sporty dynamics as well as its very potent 1.5-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine. 

While the seven-speed DSG unit it was paired to was no slouch in offering that enthusiastic driving experience, there was always that feeling that a certain piece was missing: a manual gearbox option, which was already offered with the Škoda Slavia 1.5-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine. Well, our prayers have now been answered and Volkswagen India have finally added the option of a six-speed manual gearbox to the Virtus’ most potent engine. We spent some time behind the wheel of the Virtus GT Plus MT variant to see whether the manual gearbox finally makes it a true enthusiast sedan.

Before we get to the driving experience itself, here are some key positives and a few gripes to point out. The sedan already stands out with its simple yet sporty European exterior. That European experience can be experienced inside with a decently packed feature list as well as a sensible and clean cabin layout that has a certain tactile feel with all the controls in the right places. That said, the touch-based climate controls aren’t easy to use and the rear parking camera could do with a better resolution.

Now that I’ve finally got some driving time with the Virtus 1.5-litre manual combination, the familiar bit is the 150-hp/250-Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol TSI engine that makes the sedan a quick machine. The engine is a refined unit with a punchy power delivery that makes most tasks go like a breeze. Does the six-speed manual gearbox make things more fun? I would say yes, because you have much more control over things and it keeps you involved right from the time you engage first gear and start moving. There’s that certain satisfaction you get when you shift to the right gear before entering a corner, keep the revs consistent, and then ensure a strong exit out of a corner. This satisfaction is also apparent while executing overtakes. 

Not everything is rosy with this manual set-up, though, for the clutch pedal in our test car felt a bit heavy and it took some time to get the right bite point, but you get used to it quickly. Also, even though it can hold a gear in everyday traffic, the six-speed manual gearbox is on its ideal playground on highways, open stretches, and hilly roads.

The addition of the six-speed manual gearbox further complements the already familiar sporty handling dynamics we know and love in respect of the Virtus. The sedan feels composed on bad roads and the suspension has been tuned to offer good comfort without compromising on performance despite having 179 millimetres of ground clearance. The steering feedback is direct enough to make being precise with the sedan easy and, in turn, induce confidence while attacking bends.

With a price tag of Rs 17.28 lakh (ex-showroom), the Volkswagen Virtus GT Plus MT undercuts its DSG counterpart by a fair margin of Rs 1.55 lakh. True, the Hyundai Verna seems like a more lucrative option considering it is more affordable, gets a more potent engine on paper, and is more feature-rich but it all comes down to personal preferences at this point. Nevertheless, the Volkswagen Virtus 1.5-litre turbo-petrol TSI option is more accessible than before and the six-speed manual gearbox is that final piece of the puzzle necessary to complete the enthusiast experience, leaving the petrol head in me with a smile.

 

About the author: Gaurav Davare

 

 

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