Text by Saurabh Gamare
Photographs by Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
You don’t always need extra to be extraordinary. The Volkswagen Vento with the new three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI engine is a case in point. Previously, the Vento came with the four-cylinder motors, the 1.6-litre MPI, the 1.2-litre TSI and the 1.5-litre turbo diesel. Now that they’re gone, do I miss them? Not really, and this new three-pot mill is to blame for it. Before you ask if the new motor beats the slick 1.2-litre TSI and DSG engine combination, I think it does, especially if you add the value factor to the equation.
We had the TSI-DSG combination for a while, but it only catered to a smaller set of individuals; with its expensive pricing, the masses shied away from it. Chucking that away was a smart move on Volkswagen’s part, but more on that later. Getting back to the matter at hand, we drove the limited-edition Vento TSI edition, which is essentially a decal job on the Vento’s Highline Plus variant. Let me warn you, if you’re here for a car that has all the latest features and contemporary add-ons, then I am afraid this will leave you disappointed. Firstly, you cannot ignore the fact that the Vento is a decade-old car, although Volkswagen has updated it over the years with minor facelifts. This time around, it gets a new honeycomb grille picked directly from the GTI lookbook. Also new are the LED headlights with DRLs which are exclusive to the Highline Plus variant. All in all, it is still the good old elegant sleeper that blends in with traffic quite well.
On the safety front, the Vento can still hold its own. Back in 2016, it secured an overall 4-star rating on ASEAN NCAP. However, unfortunately, safety alone does not sell cars. Yes, the Vento ticks most of the basic features on the list, but misses out on modern fancies like a wireless charger, a sunroof or cooled seats. It is just a sturdy chassis fitted to a sweet-singing three-cylinder 1.0-litre motor. There is nothing jazzy about it.
It might sound clichéd, but the Vento TSI is a driver’s car. Make no mistake about it, with this downsized three-cylinder TSI engine, you’re always going to have an adrenaline-induced smirk on your face even on the boring grocery run. It is a tryst between you and the Vento. Put on some old-school music in the background and let the TSI engine do a jam of its own when the tacho needle leaps across 4000 rpm. I became so addicted to it that I blatantly ignored the flashing gear-shift indicator almost all the time.
On the highway, the sturdy chassis maintains its surefootedness and even corners with confidence. There is body roll, but that doesn’t stop it from hammering through fast sweeping bends. However, we all know that most of our time is spent in daily traffic, and while it is a good thing to get addicted to the TSI’s throaty sound, at crawling speeds under 2000 rpm, it is purely lazy. It picks up the pace only when you go beyond that mark.
With the older Vento, all that adrenaline-ing would burn a big hole in your pocket, but that’s not the case here. The new Vento can now reach the masses with its affordable pricing and deliver on its fun-to-drive aspect as well. Volkswagen’s idea of replacing the old four-pot TSI-DSG engine combination with this three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI and a manual gearbox is a step in the right direction. There is nothing lost in this downsizing, only a spicing up of things in the segment.
So, should you buy the new Vento? Well, the Skoda Rapid has the same engine, and if looks don’t matter to you, then the Rapid Rider Plus will offer more value than the Vento’s Highline variant. But I imagine many would love the GTI-esque cues on the Vento, even if they have to spend more. At the end of the day, whatever you choose, you’ll still have a hoot with that motor.
Volkswagen Vento TSI
Displacement: 999cc, I-3, turbo-petrol
Max power: 108 bhp@5000-5500 rpm
Max torque: 17.8 kgm@1750-4000 rpm
F/R: 195/55 R16
L/W/H (mm): 4413/1699/1466
Wheelbase: 2552 mm
Kerb Weight: 1138 kg
Fuel tank: 55 litres
PRICE: Rs 11.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)