Volkswagen Vento TSI review: Powered by the magic of technology

Vikram Chaudhary Posted online: Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 at 0000 hrs
Isn’t it nice to see how some automobile companies are getting technologies from high-end car models and planting those into sub-R10 lakh models? Last year we saw a few such cars and, of these, three were from Volkswagen—Polo GT TSI, Polo GT TDI and Vento TSI. While we have driven these three cars in a controlled environment—at the Buddh International Circuit—we recently took the Vento TSI out on city roads to see how it fares in real-life conditions.

Appearance

On the outside, but for a small TSI badging at the rear, the Vento TSI is hard to distinguish from the ‘regular’ Vento. But what you do get are 185/60 R15 alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, chrome finish on trunk and fog light surrounds, high-mounted third brake light, heat-insulating glass for windscreen, side and rear windows, and rear parking sensors. The car, however, doesn’t get a rear parking camera.

Inside the cabin you get leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, illuminated trunk and chrome trim.

You also get features such as climatronic air-conditioning (which automatically regulates the temperature inside the cabin), rear AC vents, front centre armrest, rear seats with foldable armrest, and tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Mention must be made here of the fact that the rear passenger can adjust the front passenger seat from behind just by moving a lever. The Vento TSI, however, doesn’t get cruise control.

Engine

That’s where all the difference lies. Under the hood, Volkswagen has now cut the petrol engine capacity by 400cc, but this doesn’t mean loss of power. Because it is turbocharged, this 1.2-litre motor produces a healthy 104 bhp of power and a class-leading 175 Nm of torque. But the best thing about the car is its gearbox—the Vento TSI gets the high-tech 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which not only shifts gears faster than you can realise, but also contributes to better fuel economy. Volkswagen claims an ARAI-certified mileage of 16.93 kmpl per litre for the Vento TSI.

Performance

You only have to slightly nudge the accelerator to realise what this small but mighty engine is capable of. In fact, on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway, an ‘excited’ Nissan Sunny driver tried to race our review car. The next moment we slotted the gearbox into the Sport mode and floored the accelerator pedal. In no time the DSG sprung into action, changed gears at exactly the right time the engine demanded, and all the 104 horses of the engine came into play. In a few seconds, the Sunny driver was far, far behind. The Vento TSI touches 0-100 kmph in a shade under 11 seconds and has a top speed of about 185 kmph. In the 40-100 kmph kickdown (fully depressing the accelerator), we recorded a time of under 9 seconds. The car also provides a decent ride on bad roads.

Safety

Early this year when it was reported that some of the most popular compact cars sold in India failed crash tests done by Global NCAP, almost immediately Volkswagen announced dual front airbags as standard fitment on all variants of the Polo. That says something about Volkswagen’s commitment towards safety. The Vento TSI, too, gets ample safety features, such as dual airbags at the front, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stabilisation programme (ESP), hill-hold function, electronic engine immobiliser, pinch guard safety for all four power windows, etc.

Verdict

Priced at R9.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Vento TSI can be a car of choice for the discerning buyer. But the problem is, the Vento TSI looks quite similar to the ‘regular’ Vento. While we simply love the DSG gearbox and the peppy engine, we would have appreciated more changes on the outside.

What is TSI?

Volkswagen’s forced-induction TSI engines are compact, powerful and use less fuel when compared to bigger, normally-aspirated engines. TSI engines also deliver higher torque output at relatively low engine speeds, which makes these engines very responsive.

What is DSG?

DSG is a direct-shift gearbox. It houses two clutches with two drive shafts. Clutch 1 engages 1st, 3rd, 5th and reverse gears, while clutch 2 engages 2nd, 4th and 6th gears. When a gear change is made, the next gear is already pre-selected but not yet engaged. It takes just three to four hundredths of a second for one clutch to engage while the other is released. The gear change is not noticeable to the driver and is achieved without any interruption in the power flow. The new 7-speed DSG that the Vento TSI is powered with represents the next level in dual-clutch technology.