The new Volkswagen AMEO was first shown in India in February 2016 and then it was further showcased in the Auto Expo in the same month. After that within a couple of months, Volkswagen chalked out a road show plan in which the AMEO toured many states of India. The idea was to connect with the people. However, India being a very brand conscious market has set norms when it comes to associating to any car brand or making opinion about a brand. The compact sedan market is mainly dominated by the Koreans and Japanese auto brands and a small percentage by an Indian brand as well. To penetrate in the territory of the strong players it would not be easy for VW and with the turbulence which they have faced recently the confidence of people in the brand is a bit shaken. Speaking about the Compact Sedan segment in India, the present generation of working people either opt for premium hatchbacks or for the normal hatchbacks and on a similar note we also have very informative thread in our forum here. The compact sedan segment in India is comparatively new and it offers the buyers the driving ease of a hatchback and a feel of a sedan. There are a significant bunch of people who opt for a compact sedan due to its visual appeal i.e looks of a sedan with a added boot. At present, the hot selling compact sedans are Dzire, Xcent & Amaze and then comes Zest. The sales of Dzire are high due to blind faith and a Fuel Efficient Engine where as Xcent sells because of product's finishing and Amaze now looks good but has a big issue of clogging but Honda's image is still that of a premium brand so people still feel Honda Amaze is a premium car. Coming to Zest, without even a fair chance, people did not accept Zest with open arms as much as they loved others in segment. The average sales of Zest are a result of perception of people about the brand. Now speaking of the AMEO, AMEO is an ambitious attempt of VW to enter into one of the hottest Indian car segment. The AMEO is in simple words an elongated Polo i.e Polo with a separate boot. However, with the AMEO, VW India plans to take an edge over the others by providing some segment first features which shall be listed in this review as well in following posts. Now even with the features and name of VW and reputation of VW in India, Will Ameo be able to make the cut? Will it exceed the expectations of buyers? Is it a worthy contender? Will it overtake the undisputed king of the segment? All such questions will be answered in following posts of this review. Read On!
The compact sedan segment in India has been a blessing for many. The segment is immensely popular and successful and one of those segments which in India has seen cut-throat competition. VW so far has the reputation of giving the most popular, enthusiast oriented and the hottest hatchback, the POLO. Now, not every one is a car enthusiast and to survive in a market, the brands have to cater to the needs and demands of the end customer always. So to bridge the gap between POLO and Vento, the ultimate solution was to have a compact sedan. Be it Hyundai, Honda or Maruti, all of them did the same with their hatchbacks and VW too followed and rolled out a stretched POLO in guise of AMEO. Of the front profile, the design is clearly reminding of the Polo with similar design headlamps, radiator grill with chrome details and air damp having chrome details. In White color if a Polo and AMEO are being driven side by side then it would be slightly difficult to differentiate among the two in terms of front looks. Coming to side profile, the side profile has nothing much different except an elongated rear quarter panel to house the boot and rest all is same to the Polo. The only difference is the new design of Rear Profile with re-designed rear bumper. The rear profile to me looked a half-hearted job from VW. They probably did not want to alter the Polo too much but because of this, the rear profile looks ugly with squarish tail lamps. Though the rear design is done by VW's learned designers but frankly, the end product is like an after-market modification and that too its gone wrong. The boot is a welcome move but the designing is not what one would expect from VW. They should have seen how Xcent, Amaze, Zest et al have been designed. The boot houses a integrated lip spoiler but all in all it is unimpressive. In my opinion, AMEO's external design is a valuable opportunity wasted big time by VW and there isn't much to write home about.
Well as by now you all know that from outside the AMEO is a stretched version of POLO so even inside, the story isn't much different. The owners and even those who have traveled in POLO will easily relate to the interiors of AMEO. The cabin looks similar to POLO and the same level of superb fit and finish is carried forward to AMEO by VW. The cabin exudes premium feel with the 2 tone color scheme i.e Beige and Black. The plastic quality as well as fabric quality both are of good quality and that is where one realizes that no matter how average looking AMEO would be from outside but inside, there are no half measures taken by VW. If we are to compare the interiors with the competitors of segment, then German finishing has no parallel as simple as that. However, having said this, the big issue that still remains unsolved is the rear seat space in AMEO. Polo too has this same issue of high hump of transmission tunnel which kills the legroom for middle passenger in rear and in the top variant of AMEO the rear AC vent console too adds up to the legroom issue. At best, only 4 pax can be seated on rear seat. The ingress and egress are decent enough but the rear knee space and under thigh support for tall built passenger like me isn't enough even with the seat pushed in front. The headroom for tall passenger is just about sufficient. Still, the quality of gadgets & switches is quite pleasing to the eyes and won't leave you complaining. So in all, the AMEO's cabin left me with mixed feelings.
Front cup holder console also includes 12V Socket.
Front Door Bottle Holders can accommodate 1.5 L Bottle.
Rear cup-holder integrated in the Rear AC vent console.
The Boot Space of Volkswagen AMEO.
The boot is the most significant change done by VW. The added boot differentiates AMEO from POLO. The boot space might appear a tad higher than POLO but it is just 330 Liters. However, with the added boot, the in-cabin space won't be compromised and secondly the boot space of AMEO can be further increased by folding the rear seats. Though the boot is neatly laid out yet the missing cladding inside the boot is a sore sight. The top variant also doesn't have the in-boot cladding. Moving ahead, the spare wheel is placed in the conventional position and can be accessed by lifting the carpet. Also, unlike some of the cars which have oddly high loading lip, the AMEO has a reasonably placed loading lip that would help in easy load-unload of luggage. In my view, the boxy boot could have been a tad bigger as to have an edge over other competitors because the sole thing that differentiates a hatchback from compact sedan is the boot.
Volkswagen has launched the AMEO compact sedan in one engine and only one transmission option at present. The AMEO comes with 3 Cylinder 1.2 Lt Petrol engine which is mated to a 5 Speed manual transmission and produces 75 PS of power at 5400 rpm and 110 Nm torque at 3750 rpm level. The 1.2 Lt unit of AMEO is a MPI one. Though the segment of compact sedan in India does have cars which as a standard offer a 1.2 L petrol unit but if we compare their engine performance to that of AMEO then surely a lot needs to be re-worked by VW. First up, when you'll crank the car immediately you will come to know that there is a 3 cylinder unit in the hood. The engine sound and apparent vibrations during the idle further add to the sub-standard engine refinement of AMEO. Press the accelerator and there is a average feedback, drive it to 2500-3000 rpm, the engine gives a average feedback. The moment I took it above 3000 rpm, the engine began howling and as I took it past 4000 rpm, it was screaming like anything. The engine is a below par unit in my view and to make it a viable option in the segment atleast a 1.3 petrol unit should be provided with 4 cylinders. The refinement of this unit was not to my taste. Volkswagen has in the past given successful products like Polo twins and Vento but AMEO for me does not live up to the brand's reputation. As Volkswagen says, AMEO is Made-in-India & Made-for-India which is good but if they would have done benchmark testing of AMEO with the segment offerings then the AMEO would have been a much better performer. The clutch is not very hard and the gear throws are decent. The torque is surely there since I took the car to 60 km/h in 2nd gear. The engine pulled neatly but I felt more power is needed to call this 1.2 L unit a well-groomed, all round performer. Since I drove the car in city traffic with bumper to bumper and stop-go type driving so for a non-enthusiast / common man, the AMEO can be called sufficient but when an enthusiast shall drive, he /she shall be left asking for better performance like me. In city driving, overtaking and maneuvering is of immense importance and on this front, with AC off (being rains & monsoon), the car did pass through but not with the desired agility and peppiness. The cornering and turning on tight spots is good enough though. The transmission is a 5 speed one as stated, the gear shifting is smooth and no jerks felt as such. With torque readily available, frequent gear changes aren't really needed. Though at present only a manual transmission is being offered but soon (festive season of 2016) a DSG will be made available too with 4 cylinder diesel unit. But what I feel is, like the other offerings of the segment, AMEO should come with a Petrol AT option too. Also, as the festive season is about 3 months far, the initial craze of the people may subside for AMEO. Talking of the NVH, being a petrol unit, I did expect it to be refined but sadly, the NVH levels are really poor. The outside engine noise does penetrate in the cabin right the from beginning but the traffic noise when you drive on the road is quite modulated surprisingly. Since it was raining too in Mumbai so I kept all windows rolled up, not even a slight slit open. And then the outside traffic noise was minimal and only noise I could hear was that of engine. Some other important things which I noted with regards to engine bay is that neither there is any cladding under the hood nor there is any under engine cover provided to AMEO. However, one good thing that I noted was, the wiring and piping used in the hood are of good quality and well sealed and the shocker mounts on both sides are well protected by plastic covers to avoid direct spray of water on them.
Here's what you can expect from VW in regards to upcoming AMEO Diesel with DSG.
Mumbai is having the monsoon season and the roads have developed potholes so it was blessing for me because monsoon season perhaps is the best season I feel to test the shockers, suspension and riding-handling of any car. The suspension setup of AMEO is the conventional strut and trail arm semi independent setup. On the ride front, I would say, with the well groomed suspension, the car performed upto my expectations. The rough patches were not felt much and the speed bumps (except the unscientific ones) did not bother much too. With the Ground clearance of 165mm (as informed by TD Co-ordinator), I too felt that the AMEO did sufficiently well by not scrapping or hitting the potholes. The 15 inch Alloys(Top Spec) with the MRF rubber (185 section) did complement the subtle ride of the AMEO and the grip on the roads was also very good. Another thing I shall mention here is that, with the cladding in the wheel wells, the road noise wasn't translated much into the cabin. The steering feedback at 70-80 km/h mark was quite good and confidence inspiring to me. The high speed manners of AMEO do surely get a big thumbs up by me. Braking on wet roads and even dry surface were alike and the car came to a balanced halt in real time. The brakes are quite good and active since I felt the brakes gripping without pushing the pedal hard. The engineering put in by VW in these mentioned aspects are worth the applause. With the all-round positive feedback by the car on this front, I can surely say, the AMEO handles quite well on city roads.
Some important technical details in pics of the new Volkswagen AMEO.
Shockers set up with wheel well cladding.
Under Body of Volkswagen AMEO.
Volkswagen AMEO Petrol Engine Sound and In-drive NVH Video.