2016 Volkswagen Ameo 1.2 Petrol Review
Volkswagen‘s belated entry into the compact-sedan segment through its Ameo model range (now available with a Diesel engine variant) is a very good one and for the Company, an ‘only for India’ first. The Ameo here reviewed wears a great looking if not sounding ‘Blue Silk‘ colour and powers its way forward through a 1.2 litre petrol engine driving the front two wheels.
The Ameo from the front and front-three quarters looks almost identical to the Polo hatch, however the Ameo design is more than just a simple boot-job. The rear-end design and boot addition in the Ameo work well and look good in my view, though I must confess that I have a preference for strong lines and Germanic design in general. Further, to accommodate the sedan boot addition and overall aesthetics and balance whilst still managing a sub-4 meter length (3995 mm), a bit has been shaved up-front and the C-pillar adjusted with a slightly lower roofline. The minimal use of chrome and shiny bits help maintain the clean and elegant German-look, augmented by the smart looking 15” alloys (only in top ‘Highline’ trim).
The 1.2 litre petrol engine with 75 PS of power and 110 Nm of peak torque @ 3750 rpm will not bring a smile to your face, however for city dwellers and highway cruising there is still enough to get the job done. Keep the pot boiling over 1500 rpm and most city manoeuvres can be executed without much drama. What does irk and is possibly the Ameo’s only weakness, is the engine noise that is quite audible at almost any speed or gear, especially when launching or revving. Given the fact that it is petrol and up against some smooth Japanese and Korean units, the Ameo engine sounds a bit crude and unrefined, though not in operation.
Cabin and Options
The Ameo reviewed here is the top specified ‘Highline‘ variant. The cabin interior is airy, plush and not too fussy. Three adults abreast at the back would be a squeeze, whilst knee and leg rooms for the average Indian height will be manageable. The presence of rear air-conditioner vents would also assist travel in summer months. The seats are well cushioned and driver seat also gets high adjustability. The boot space of 330-odd litres is not class leading but the opening is well shaped to provide easy access and loading-unloading goods.
Up front the Ameo has a pleasing dashboard design, clear instruments and quality switchgear. The leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with piano-black finish, digital-climate control and touch-screen MMI infotainment system with a rear-parking camera, all work well and look up-market. The Ameo comes with a significant and impressive options list, many of which are claimed a segment ‘1st’, all of which are present on this top variant, which includes cruise control, automatic rain sensing wipers, front central arm-rest, one-touch power windows etc. (please click the brochure link to have a full read of options available across the Ameo variants).
The general build of the Ameo is solid and weighs in at 1069 kilograms, the doors have a good weight to them and thump into place in the most-Germanic of ways that leave you feelling reassured of the quality and engineering that has gone into manufacturing the Ameo.
Drive, Safety and Handling
The Ameo rides on 185/60 R15 wheels and offers the driver good visibility as well as ground clearance for the class of car. Drive over poor road surfaces are well handled with only the most coarse of roads causing some sound to filter through into the cabin. The electronic power steering is perfectly calibrated to suit city driving without being overly light or heavy. Whilst the Ameo is not pin-sharp, it is sure footed and predictable at speed with a hint of manageable pitch when changing directions fast. The 5-speed manual gear box is also smooth and precise in throw and operation and the gear lever itself well-shaped and in piano-black finish.
For safety, all three variants (Trendline, Comfortline, Highline) comes with front passenger airbags and ABS. I was most impressed by the brake feel, travel and power as they are not overly assisted nor weak, but solid and predictable in operation and keep the car balanced. This when added to impressive ride quality, handling and solid-build of the Ameo, safety is well provided for.
Officially the Ameo is claimed to deliver a shade under 18 kms/litre which I could not verify due to the limited distance that I travelled in the short period of time that I had the car to review. The Ameo also comes with a 45 litre petrol tank which is par for the segment.
The Ameo is a very well engineered car with a premium feel and look to it without the premium price, as the Ameo petrol range enticingly starts from Rs. 5.24 lacs (ex-showroom Delhi for the ‘Trendline’ variant) to a little over Rs. 7.09 lacs (ex-showroom Delhi for the ‘Highline’ variant as reviewed here). Further the Ameo has has an extended options list, many a segment first and from a class or two above and offers everything that a entry level executive may wish for. Whilst the purist may prefer the Polo hatch, the boot addition in the Ameo will serve those with a small family and constant luggage to carry.
What lets the Ameo down is the engine, if not in outright power but the sheer noise it generates, which must be addressed in quick time to appease fastidious customers who are otherwise use to Japanese and Korean silence. With the Ameo diesel now on sale, the petrol may also lose sales to its own diesel variant where such sound may be considered a manageable trade-off for the higher power, torque and fuel economy. Otherwise the Ameo petrol is a great little car that offers an inexpensive entry into the much sought German car ownership and experience.
You can add more to this story by commenting below