And all of a sudden, there seem to be many automatic budget cars in India. What we have here is the VW Vento TSI, the successor to the thirsty Vento AT. On paper, the Vento TSI seems to get everything right - It comes with a punchy turbo-petrol engine mated to the very modern 7-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, its not exorbitantly priced, it offers decent equipment and comes with VW’s unbeatable build quality. But what’s it like in the real world?
Unlike the Polo GT TSI which screams about its engine through badges and stickers, the Vento TSI can almost be described a regular Vento save for a ‘TSI’ badge on the bootlid. VW India seems to have used good common sense here as the boy racer driving the GT TSI would like to exclaim to the rest of the world what he’s driving, while a senior software professional driving the Vento would rather choose subtlety.
VW will offer leatherette seat covers on the Vento TSI which feel like the real deal. Apart from that, the interior is identical to any other Highline Vento variant, save for the obvious DSG gearlever and a button on the center console allowing you to switch ON/OFF the ESP. The ESP and Hill Hold control are part of the DSG transmission package.
The Vento TSI comes in a single Highline variant. So you get alloy wheels, foglights, ABS, EBD, dual front airbags, ESP, Hill Hold, steering mounted controls and auto AC. Seems feature packed right? Maybe not as much as the Verna or the new City, but we don’t have any qualms about the Vento’s equipment list.
Engine & Gearbox:
Powering the Vento TSI is the same 1.2-liter turbocharged petrol engine found in the Polo GT TSI. This unit produces 105 PS at 5,000 rpm and 175 Nm of torque from 1,500-4,100 rpm. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is used to transmit the power from this engine to the front wheels.
What’s it like to drive?
The engine settles into a smooth idle as soon as its switched on. Vibrations are non-existent even when you rev this motor to its redline. Slot the lever into ‘D’ and the Vento briskly moves, with you being aware of the gearshifts only by noticing the instrument cluster.
In city driving conditions, the Vento TSI is near faultless, giving you super smooth shifts and the right gear at the right time. There were rare instances where the gearshift would feel a bit jerky, but 9 out 10 times, it was smooth sailing.
When you’re in a bit of a hurry, a firm foot on the accelerator ensures the DSG shifting down a gear, even two at times, and the Vento builds speed fast. In fact, you can drive the car for most of the time in the standard ‘D’ mode. It’s only when you’re hell-bent on extracting every single horsepower from this engine do you really need manual or sport mode.
By putting it in sport, the gearchanges occur at the redline and when you take your foot off the accelerator, the DSG will even downshift in a rather sporty fashion. The sport mode is very well calibrated if you're in a hurry.
The 1.2 TSI is a brilliant engine, as we mentioned in our Polo GT TSI's review. This motor loves to be revved and is comfortable in all parts of the powerband. To sum up the TSI and the DSG package, if its straight line performance you’re after, look no further!
Steering, Ride & Handling:
The super light steering is easy to use while parking and while driving through city traffic. In fact, if you’re not buying the Vento TSI for its performance, rather for its clutchless experience, this department should not bother you much.
The Vento’s steering sorely dissapoints at high speeds forcing you to take corners with caution. Clearly, the steering doesn’t like to be thrown into corners, which is a shame as the body is well composed to handle it. It is for the same reason that we have our doubts when thinking of the Polo GT TSI as a hot-hatch.
The Vento’s ride quality is run-off-the-mill: Neither is it exceptional, nor is it bad. Unlike the Polo, the Vento, thanks to its boot, gets a bit bouncy at times, especially when you don’t have passengers at the rear.
Even with its light steering, the Vento has excellent straight-line stability at high speeds.
With disc brakes at the front with ABS and EBD, the Vento TSI possesses good braking manners. However, VW could have improved the brakes further given that this is a genuinely powerful car which could surprise its owners with its acceleration prowess at times.
The TSI motor’s power delivery is highly addictive. It’s for this reason that our first four days with the car did not see the on-board computer go above 7 km/l. Without slamming the pedal to the floor too much, the TSI motor is a genuinely fuel efficient engine, capable of delivering at least 11.5 km/l in city driving conditions. VW’s claim of 16.93 km/l seems entirely possible.
At INR 9.99 lakhs (ex-Showroom, New Delhi), the Vento TSI seems decently priced. However, the new City AT is better value for money, with the SV AT priced at INR 9.49 lakhs and the top-end sunroof-equipped VX AT priced at INR 10.98 lakhs (ex-Showroom, New Delhi).
Before the Vento TSI was launched, our sources in VW sent us an internal communication document. One of the points highlighted in the document was and we quote - “Let the customer test drive the car”.
Once you’ve experienced the TSI motor and the DSG transmission, chances are the new City’s CVT or the Verna’s torque converter will seem like yesteryear systems. Its in this aspect that the Vento TSI triumphs over its competition.
However we are not entirely sure about the reliability of the DSG transmission in Indian driving conditions. VW Group cars equipped with this gearbox have been recalled in places such as China, Singapore and Japan and an official from Wolfsburg came on record stating that hot and humid climates play a factor in the DSG’s functioning.
VW India’s unproven after-sales support, a non-extendable warranty of two years on the DSG, and exorbitantly priced mechanical spare parts are also causes of worry. Its for this reason that our money would be spent on the new Honda City CVT.
What we Like:
- Decent price
What we Dislike:
- Overly light steering
- DSG has reliability issues, especially in hot and humid countries
- VW India’s aftersales needs to improve by several notches