The newly revealed Volkswagen Ameo is the German manufacturer’s big play at a compact sedan market dominated by Maruti Dzire and the Hyundai Xcent. There are other players as well here like the Honda Amaze and soon there will be newer ones as well like the Chevrolet Beat sedan and the highly anticipated Tata Motors Sway.
In a space that is heating up, sales figures have been seeing double digit growth it becomes imperative for a manufacturer like Volkswagen with a small presence as yet in the mass market to present a car like the Ameo.
So what does it have going for it and what may not work, here is a quick reckoner:
1. The quality is top notch. Both exteriors and interiors are superbly finished enhancing the premium product at affordable pricing stand Volkswagen is embracing. The cabin looks impeccable and the dashboard elements look homogenous and solidly put together. This is a car that will easily stand the test of time.
2. The 16” multi-spoke alloys with the 215/45 profile Bridgestone Turanza tyres will have two benefits. Good ride and great handling. Volkswagen cars have always been known to offer great dynamics, exemplified by their motorsport campaigns in the country and the Ameo could be no stranger to this aspect. It’s definitely one of the aspects to look out for but there’s a catch which I’ll talk about in the negatives section.
3. Rear bench space is good for a car that is just 3995mm in length. Scooped out rear sections of the front seats and a slightly shorter seat squab means you get the impression of there being good knee room. Plus there is good enough room for three passengers on that rear bench. Head room is also good thanks to the straight roofline but a more in depth analysis at a later stage may tell us more. The rear quarter glass further enhances the perception of space and that may positively affect people decisions looking to be chauffeured.
4. Features are rich, you get cruise control, mirror link which is basically the infotainment system mirroring your phone screen (Android or iOs) on the display so that you can several functions directly off your phone without having top look at the device is a fantastic feature. You also get static cornering lamps which is a simple technique of using the required driving lamp, right or left, to illuminate the corner depending on which direction your steering wheel is turning. Rain sensing wipers are another touch unique to this segment as are some of the features i mentioned earlier.
5. Safety is paramount and the entire Ameo variant range will come fitted with airbags (driver and passenger) as standard as is ABS. That is a big plus for families looking for that sort of a safety net.
Now on the flip side the stuff we thought did not excite us.
1. The styling is very familiar, too familiar if you ask me. At the front end minor detail changes like the headlamp flourishes and the driving lamp treatment are refreshing but don't do much to give the Ameo a unique identity. The rear end specially, the boot does not blend in too nicely with the rest of the car reminding of me of an early Dzire design. The boot in fact looks like an after thought and is executed as such. Inside the cabin too, things appear all too familiar. Minor details like the piano black highlights on the steering wheel give it an upmarket feel but otherwise this could easily pass off for any other mass market Volkswagen.
2. Boot pace at 330 litres isn't class leading. Where in the past the Polo and the Vento had generous room in the boot, the Honda Amaze and even Xcent offer loads more space as far as compact sedans are concerned.
3.On to those tyres and wheels then, some sources within Volkswagen claim that the tyres on the production car may be 15” in size with a slightly leser tyre profile. The obvious benefit will be fuel efficiency, figures for which haven't been released yet but the write off in a small way may be the handling. The 16”configuration is purely for the auto show as of now.
4. Initial quality has always been fantastic in most Volkswagen cars but somewhere down the line, high input and production costs meant corners had to be cut. This isnt a given but we fear if sales arent great for the Ameo then in all likelihood quality may dip.
5. Pricing will be a touchy issue considering the Polo already starts at around Rs 5.5 lakh. Volkswagen may position the Ameo above it so as to not cannibalise the Polo and give it a bit of a distinct positioning. This means prices could begin at around Rs 6 lakh going all the way up to around Rs 8 lakh. Also the feature rich variants could push the space above the Rs 8 lakh mark.