AMEO makes you sing Ti Amo to it

VW AMEO is a sub 4 meter sedan made by Volkswagen specifically for the Indian customers.

You realise the impact your country is making globally, when automotive giants like VW go all out to research and develop a car for your people, that too a sub 4 meter sedan. A segment that took shape in India, all thanks to 2nd gen Swift Dzire which shrunk under 4 meters to avail tax exemptions and went on to beat the Alto to become the highest selling car in India. That was back in 2012 fast forward to 2016 Auto Expo India, VW unveiled its new India specific AMEO to the world, followed by it launch. As of now the AMEO is available only with a 1.2L 3cyl petrol unit, we do expect a diesel version later this year.

The AMEO is based on Polo and not a chopped out Vento. There was a great task at hand with the Polo measuring near 4 meters but do not fret when you a got a team of German engineers. They cleverly shaves off 35mm from the front bumper of the Polo to cleverly accommodate a bigger boot. Well I reinstate that anonymous saying “nobody does great jobs quite like Germans do” What does that mean to NAMO zombies anyway, they will just #MakeInIndia on social media.

The lines of the car are so sharp even in silhouettes that Gillette could make AMEO its next brand ambassador. With all the lines and creases in places the car would put people walking down the Wall Street to shame.  The shape of AMEO is definitely the best among all sub 4m sedans and VW genes. One glance is enough to tell that it’s a German product, the car retains the blacked-out double barrel headlamps from Polo which look good and work even better. Mechanically it remains a Polo and even retains the same wheelbase.

Considering the fact that AMEO is a late entry into a Maruti dominated segment they have aggressively priced it from Rs. 5.4 lakh to 7.2 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. This is something that can give Dzire a run for its money but the high maintenance cost and spare cost still remains a major worry for VW buyers. Their service network isn’t as well spread as its competitors in India.  

Step inside to be greeted by a familiar Polo cabin and it retains the flat bottom VW steering wheel. That wheel takes your cabin experience 10 notches higher, if that’s not impressive enough the steering wheel is adjustable for both reach and rake. Everyone can find a perfect driving position in this car in no time, all thanks to its reach and rake adjustable steering and height adjustable driver seat. “The seating position is best in its class” nothing comes close to this. However the beige in cabin is a turn off for me but supposedly here in India that is considered premium. The car gets a touch screen infotainment system, touch is sluggish at times. The foldable armrest design has been my favourite since 1st gen Octavia days in India. Here I was happy to see that feature being incorporated but that moment didn’t last long. The armrest provides good support when it is down but the moment you push it back straight it becomes an intrusion so that utility is not be enjoyed while driving. This primarily happens due to its short-wheelbase for which the armrest has been fitted neatly into less space unlike my old Octavia experience.

VW has gone past every feature list we had for AMEO. The car is equipped with what and what not’s list of segment firsts. The boot that was the main criteria of this design is of 333 liters not class leading but is deep with less intrusion for ample storage. For storage there are ample bottle/cup holders and cubby holes in the cabin. The auto up and down for all four windows with an anti-pitch feature here should be taken up by more manufacturers. The inside rearview mirror is automatic day and night electro chromatic mirror. The mirror is very sleek but provides a much wider view to my surprise. The legroom at rear is cramped but feels better with the contouring of front seats. Rear AC vents come with a foldable cup/bottle holder to keep you drinks cool, that luxury at front can be enjoyed with the cooled glovebox at front that comes with an adjustable airflow setting on the inside. Accompanying them are features like steering mounted audio controls, electrically foldable and adjustable OVRM’s, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic rain sensing wipers, cruise control etc.

VW takes safety very seriously hence ABS and dual front Airbags come as standard equipment across all range however to my surprise the seat belt warning only comes up as a blinker and there are no sound notifications for it. The solid VW built also builds up your confidence to drive this car.

How is it to drive?

The ride dynamics and ergonomics are superb, well it’s a VW Polo underneath so keeping it in line is easy. The car handles nicely and feels well planted on roads and composed on corners. It’s a good luxurious sub 4m sedan loaded with features to commute. Yeah commute that’s the self-castrating word for driving, VW has given a 1.2L 3 cylinder petrol engine to it and that is just not what we expect from VW. We can compromise on features but not with the engine. The engine is slow and noisy like all 3 cylinder engines. It needs to be revved hard and kept in the higher band to have some feeling of throttle response and torque delivery. The car requires frequent downshifting on open roads to overtake others and if you don’t drive it like this then the speedometer will take forever to clock more clicks. The engine churns out 73bhp at 5400 rpm and 110nm of torque at 3700 rpm and returns fuel economy figures of around 17kmpl.

The upcoming diesel version is expected to be a lot quicker and more engaging to drive. We speculated the diesel avtaar to sport a 5-speed manual alongside the 7-speed DSG. However if your daily run isn’t much then diesel won't just make sense so go for the petrol version right away.

Whats My Take?

AMEO is very late to sub 4m segment party which I feel is nearing saturation and is currently surviving courtesy to Ola, Uber and so on. Regular users buy them too but that idea never appealed to me, until Honda launched the Amaze. Since then I have studied the market and demand of the sub 4m sedans as closely as I could. The one that broke open this segment i.e. Swift Dzire is still the market leader despite taking major bumps from Amaze, Figo Aspire, Xcent and Tata Zest.

So where does AMEO fit in? AMEO sit on top of all its competitors as far as the vehicle goes. Never ever has a 3 pot petrol engine pleased me, so this is no exception with its vibrations, noise and sluggish attitude. Atleast the AMEO does all this in style and feels premium too. If I would have had the liking for a sub 4m sedan I would definitely choose the AMEO over its competitors.

Stand Out Feature: Cruise Control works from as low as 25 kmph making cruising fun not only on highways but in cities too.

Also watch out for a diesel version of the AMEO to be launched around this festive season. I expect a 1.5L diesel to be put up here along with the DSG gearbox and ESP. Aggressive pricing of the diesel version can change VW’s fortune in India.

Would I buy an AMEO for myself?

Well if VW plans a 1.2/1.4L TSi with DSG, I would probably get myself one.

Words & Photography: Aul Bandhu