Volkswagen Vento A/T - Ownership Review


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Me: I moved to India after working in the US for the past eleven years and as you would imagine, driving a automatic for so long - I intended to buy an automatic in India. Keeping in mind the traffic in India and also the fact that I will have to get used to driving here,I decided I should go for a moderately priced car and try to upgrade later. Keeping this in mind I decided to analyze cars in the Rs 10-Rs 12 lakh range.
My usage would not be much - usually around 150 -200 Kms a month (plus an occasional outstation trip). I explored the car market, read a number of reviews and spoke to my colleagues and based on my research shortlisted the following:

Honda City AT
Vento AT
Verna AT

Notice I opted for all sedans so - the I10 and I20 AT were ruled out.
Verna was easy to eliminate since it had no Air Bags and a new revamped model is scheduled to come out around March 2011. Still cannot digest the fact that the Verna AT
is almost Rs.10 lakhs OTR and comes with no air bags!!

The fight between the City and Vento was indeed a close one.

The City had a number of good things going for it - excellent engine, well established company in India, good resale value and complete peace of mind. But the interiors of the City left a lot to be desired. No offence to City owners, but IMO the interiors never excited me. My first impression of the interiors turned out to be disappointing. The knobs on the dash looked very cheap and honestly knobs on sleeper class trains looked better! I do believe that Honda is short changing customers with respect to interior features.
Part of this, may be due to lack of competition in this segment but with the advent of Vento, maybe one can expect more from Honda. Also in the City, there are hardly any storage space for rear passengers. The City's outside view is awesome but for me the deal breaker was the interiors and they did not come up to my expectations.
When I asked for deals for the Honda City considering the fact that I was shopping for a car in December - the dealer laughed at me and said this is Honda - we give no deals.
The next day he called and I told him that I would be going for the Vento - He then offered me free insurance worth approx Rs 25K on the Honda. So much so for the Honda!!

I had seen the City and Vento on different days and before finalizing my car, I thought it would be better if I see them both again on the same day. This way I would be able to appreciate the finer points in the two cars and this could help in my decision making.

Next, enter the Vento and I could immediately see the difference. The exterior, though not as dashing as the City held its own and Vento definitely had a elegant look. It looked sturdy and ground clearance was better than that of the City.
The interiors were very pleasing. Simple, uncluttered (exactly as Europeans like it and so do I!). The slightly tilted dash looked good and there was ample storage space inside. The automatic climate control was intuitive to use as was the rear AC vents. (Both these features were lacking in the City). The Vento, though good was not perfect either. I was disappointed to see that even the Highline version did not come with a Aux or USB input for the audio. But the accessory list had this covered and I had to pay the difference to get a upgraded unit with the AUX and USB inputs installed. Rear view from this car is not good and parking sensors are a must for this car. Test drove the car and was satisfied with the road handling. The steering wheel had both telescopic and height adjustment and the cabin was quiet once all the windows were rolled up. An added convenience is a lever on the back of the front passenger seat so the rear passenger can adjust the front passenger seat by turning this lever from the rear side itself. Time will tell how useful this feature would be.
Inspite of what the carmaker says - this car is definitely not a 5 passenger car. The reason being the hump on the floor for the middle passenger on the rear seat is quite pronounced. In fact, it can quite incovenience the middle passenger on long trips.
Even for tall passengers, the rear seats are comfy with ample leg room.

I called the only dealer in my city and was told that they have 2 automatics - once which was already booked and sold and the other was available. Turned out the second car was booked by an NRI but he would be in India only in March and so the dealer wanted to dispose off the second car. I was lucky in the sense that I did not have to wait to get delivery of the car - I can bring the money and take the car!!
The odometer of the car showed 32 kms and was told that this was due to the distance between the stockyard and the showroom. I checked the VIN number and it showed it as 2011 model and month of Production as October. (Also insisted to see a copy of Form 22) The dealer was surprised when I showed up with the PDI inspection list and went through that list exhaustively to make sure I am comfortable with the car. (Thanks again to this forum for the PDI list).

I have driven the car for around 100 kms (City only) now and here are my observations

Pros:

Good Sturdy looks
Automatic climate control (probably the first in this segment)
Rear AC vents
Good ride quality
Lots of information on the MID (Multi Information Display)
Remote Key opens doors, windows and boot
One touch windows
Neat, small, foldable keys





Cons:

Not a 5 passenger car because of the noticeable hump in the rear
Rear View vision is limited
Only one coffee cup holder for the rear seat passengers - Volkswagen takes care of the Sethji only? Not the better half??
Driver seat has no vanity mirror - Don't women drive the Vento??
If you change the temperature on the Automatic climate control - the rear ac vents take a few minutes to recognize it. (It's not instant like the front AC vents)
Even the Highline AT version audio does not come with an AUX or USB as standard.
Volkswagen provides same manual for Polo and Vento. Moreover the manuals also refer to left hand steering which is not used in India - Adds to the confusion.
Spare tyre is 14 inch while the other tyres are 15 inch.
No free services. - First service is due at 15000 kms/1 year


Here are the accessories I bought:

1) Head Unit Nippon NDC-MP 9019 BT (had to pay the difference of cost to the old HU)
2) Floor Mats
3) Leather Seat Covers
4) Car Cover
5) Sun Film
6) Mudflaps
7) Parking Sensors



Took me less than a minute to pair my Ipod touch with the head unit using Bluetooth. I can now listen to any song on my Ipod wirelessly through the car speakers and this in fact makes the AUX and USB ports redundant. Pairing my mobile to the HU was similarly quick without any issues.

On the way out, I did tell the dealer this is my first car purchase in India and he was shocked. He told me very few customers come so well prepared and with the kind of exhaustive checklist I had, he had assumed that I was a veteran car buyer!!

All in all, thus far, I am pleased with what this car has to offer for the price.
I have uploaded a few pics of the car.



Will post updates as and when there are any.
 

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350Z

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So finally, you got the car delivered. Congratulations and an extremely well described review, she looks stunning to say the least. Did Volkswagen offer you any discounts? Also the rear parking sensors in black are looking a bit odd, maybe you would want to paint them in body colour. Please add more pictures, and enjoy your new acquisition. Do keep us posted. :smile:

Drive Safe,
350Z
 

Akash

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Congrats for your new ride buddy. The color looks great. Keep us informed about the service costs.

5 Stars to this thread just for the excellent and unbaised write up. Most of the people in their initial ownership report write too bad about the car they rejected. I am glad didnt do this. The comparison with City which you did is perfect and you have brought to fore positives and negatives of both the cars which will help others who are in similar dilemma.
 
Thread Starter #6
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Congrats for your new ride buddy. The color looks great. Keep us informed about the service costs.

5 Stars to this thread just for the excellent and unbaised write up. Most of the people in their initial ownership report write too bad about the car they rejected. I am glad didnt do this. The comparison with City which you did is perfect and you have brought to fore positives and negatives of both the cars which will help others who are in similar dilemma.
Thanks. In fact. had Vento not been introduced, I would
have opted for the City. There was hardly any choice in
case of automatics.

So finally, you got the car delivered. Congratulations and an extremely well described review, she looks stunning to say the least. Did Volkswagen offer you any discounts? Also the rear parking sensors in black are looking a bit odd, maybe you would want to paint them in body colour. Please add more pictures, and enjoy your new acquisition. Do keep us posted. :smile:

Drive Safe,
350Z

Thanks. Volkswagen did not offer any discounts but the dealer took 10% off the accessories.
Yeah, the black rear parking sensors do look odd but strangely enough they have body colour handles but not parking sensors. In the near future, I intend to instal reverse camera and GPS in the dash so i may paint them in body color.
I will be putting up more pics shortly.
 

350Z

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Thanks. In fact. had Vento not been introduced, I would have opted for the City. There was hardly any choice in
case of automatics.
That is true, but I think that you did not consider the Maruti Suzuki SX4 Automatic? Though it can not match the quality levels of a Honda or Volkswagen but still a nice value for money sedan it is.

Drive Safe,
350Z
 
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@icecool; Congrats on the new ride. have thousands of happy miles & memories with the Vento.[thumbsup]

reg the plastic, seats and the gear knob finish you had mentioned i the City, did you check the City with the Leather trim? it ll set us back by 46K but then these things should have been covered (not sure though)

The bump in he rear seat floor is almost zeroed in the City, making it a comfortable 5 seater.

The above points being said, the City costs almost 90K more than the Vento which is not a small amount.

But the weird thing to me was Volkswagon not giving any year-end discount for the Vento. Adding to that was the shock that we do not get any free service[surprise]

Do share your experience & performance of the beauty in the days to come[cheers]
-----------Next Post-----------
@350Z, meaning no offence but the SX4 Automatic retails close to 10lakh (9.6 OTR after cash discount from delaer @ Chennai).

I seriously doubt that it is a VFM car at this price; If we invest 60K to 1 lakh more and we can have one of the finest sedans in the country with much better performance/safety
 
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icecool,
congratulations for vento.

the car looks superb. and interiors are definitely worth mentioning again and again.

the black seat cover looks comfy and elegant. expecting more pics

Spare tyre is 14 inch while the other tyres are 15 inch.
are you sure about it how are you going to manage it with different tires sizes??
 
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icecool2010

are you sure about it how are you going to manage it with different tires sizes??
@jayadev, this isn't a very big deal i guess. The suspension will take car of levelling the ride height when we ride it like this.

it shouldn't be a botheration provided, we r not driving it for long time.

the reason might have been to manage the available boot space optimally.
 
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That is true, but I think that you did not consider the Maruti Suzuki SX4 Automatic? Though it can not match the quality levels of a Honda or Volkswagen but still a nice value for money sedan it is.

Drive Safe,
350Z
Maruti SX4 was indeed on my initial list but I removed it for:
a) Lack of availability of vehicle even for test drive and very long waiting period
b) I always make it a point to visit the service center before I visit the sales office. This way I can see how they take care of cars, etc, etc and at both the Maruti and Hyundai service centers - cars were parked (rather packed) too close to each other thereby increasing chances of scratches, dents, etc. (and that's the last thing you want at a service center)
c) And, finally, as of date, i simply cannot think of spending close to Rs 9 lakhs on a Maruti or a Tata Car.
They are improving but I think we have to wait for a few years for them to produce niggle free cars.

Also IMO, Tata and Maruti who got a foothold in the market, making budget cars missed a trick by not branding their high end cars under a different name.
For example, in the US, Toyota brands its luxurious cars
under Lexus, Nissan under Infinity and so on.
By not doing this - both Tata and Maruti (inspite of making higher end cars) - the very mention of their names brings back pictures of small, budget cars and in the subconscious mind, consumers always relate problems lower end cars have with that of high end cars (even though those high end cars may not have those problems at all).
What this does, finally, is makes their job more difficult in marketing high end cars - even when they are made better.



@icecool; Congrats on the new ride. have thousands of happy miles & memories with the Vento.[thumbsup]

reg the plastic, seats and the gear knob finish you had mentioned i the City, did you check the City with the Leather trim? it ll set us back by 46K but then these things should have been covered (not sure though)

The bump in he rear seat floor is almost zeroed in the City, making it a comfortable 5 seater.

The above points being said, the City costs almost 90K more than the Vento which is not a small amount.

But the weird thing to me was Volkswagon not giving any year-end discount for the Vento. Adding to that was the shock that we do not get any free service[surprise]

Do share your experience & performance of the beauty in the days to come[cheers]
-----------Next Post-----------
@350Z, meaning no offence but the SX4 Automatic retails close to 10lakh (9.6 OTR after cash discount from delaer @ Chennai).

I seriously doubt that it is a VFM car at this price; If we invest 60K to 1 lakh more and we can have one of the finest sedans in the country with much better performance/safety
Thanks.
Yes, my neighbour has the City exclusive model and the dash looks pretty much the same. The difference being leather seats, chrome handles and a few little upgrades.
After considering the free insurance on the City - the net difference between the Vento and the City was less than Rs 25k

The bump in the rear floor is there on the City too but not as pronounced as in the Vento. This drawback in the Vento would impact the middle passenger on the rear. So if the majority of the travel is with 5 passengers - this can be a significant issue unless that middle passenger is a child.

I too was surprised on not seeing any discounts on the car but considering the booking and waiting period - the car maker would not have felt the need to offer discounts.

icecool,
congratulations for vento.

the car looks superb. and interiors are definitely worth mentioning again and again.

the black seat cover looks comfy and elegant. expecting more pics



are you sure about it how are you going to manage it with different tires sizes??
I think the size does not matter. What should matter is the overall diameter of the spare tyre and I was told by the service chief that if you measure both the sizes - they will be within 1/2" of each other and this difference is acceptable.

This only ensures that the spare tyre should only be used as such - and it should be replaced at the earliest available opportunity.
 
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ilango[speed thirst];62466 said:
Das auto!

So finally a German won over the Japanese!

congrats for the ride.
Yes, it certainly did!
I work in the SAP area - so do have a soft corner for almost everything German!
Except, maybe for the women. The sturdy look of the cars seems to have perforated to them too[:)]
 
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Nice review and pictures Icecool! I love the looks of Vento and your car looks awesome! I agree with your points about the City and Verna!


But hey Maruti and Hyundai are the leading manufacturers and sellers in India so their A.S.S is expected to be crowded and packed with cars too close , i agree with you on the risk involved but they take care not to scratch your car and luckily till now my Verna did not get any scratches from A.S.S so far for more than a year now.


And Maruti is known to produce the most reliable cars! I agree with your points about TATA but Maruti they produce niggle free cars for sure but ofcourse lacks the brand value of a VW!


Can you throw some more light about the HU? Did you change it with the dealer itself?
 
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excellent review and congratulations buddy. wish you miles of happy and safe travel in german engineering [:D]
 
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