The Volkswagen Vento is now a decade old – yes, 10 years! That’s a long time for a single generation. In the same time span, we’ve seen three generations of its competitor – the City – launched in our market. So, it’s no surprise that when held up against its Japanese rivals, and even the others, the Vento comes up short.
But having had the chance to drive it again – for the review of the new 1.0 TSi and also for our mega six-sedan comparison – I was struck with a very interesting thought. Yes, the Vento gets a lot wrong but the one thing it gets right could easily overturn all the other wrongs for many customers. So, here they are the three misses and the one big hit.
1) Volkswagen Vento: It’s old
I know, I’ve said this already, but it’s not just the passing of years, the styling lacks flair and modern design cues that would have given it a nice minty fresh feel; this is the case on both, inside and out. Yes, it has a certain elegance to it, but the bodywork is rather straightforward, devoid of any visual drama, and the insides are just plain and simple. I love the twin dials and the fact that there are still buttons and knobs, but there’s also no flash, sensuousness or drama, nothing! It’s all very bland. Or understated elegance, in VW speak.
2) Volkswagen Vento: It’s missing equipment
With the passing of years, Volkswagen has made attempts at modernising the equipment on board, and today you can have bits like LED headlamps and a nice, sharp (but small) touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. But keyless entry, wireless phone charging, and an electric sunroof are entries you won’t find on the spec list; also missing is newer tech like SIM-based connectivity and cooled seats. In an age where cars are increasingly looked at as appliances, this is actually quite a big miss.
3) Volkswagen Vento: It’s more expensive to maintain
Yes, I hear the groans – oh no, not this again. Volkswagen has had a history of ownership-related issues with expensive parts and dodgy dealers. However, they have made amends and prices of spares, as well as labour, are now all within the ballpark of its competitors. The thing is, it’s still above the others and, like-for-like, you will still spend that little bit more on its maintenance.
4) Volkswagen Vento: It’s a car!
Aren’t they all? I hear you say, well yes, but there are some that seem to be heralding in the era of the transportation pod. You see, while a car is supposed to take you from point A to point B safely and in comfort, it should also entertain you along the way; well, if you’re an enthusiast at least. And it’s here that the Vento really hits the nail on the head, its fundamentals are simply spot on. VW cars have a solid build and while the Vento has not been crash-tested by Global NCAP, the Polo received a 4-star rating; so, in all probability, this would be the same. Coming to comfort, both front and rear seats are comfy enough and the space on offer is more than adequate. In fact, in this area, it would outrank the Hyundai Verna.
And then there’s the matter of entertainment from behind the wheel – the new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, direct-injection turbo-petrol unit puts out a healthy 110hp and 175Nm of torque, and will delight you with its effortless performance. The new 6-speed gearbox too has a delightful feel, with nice and short throws, and the new torque convertor automatic is also expectedly smooth and acceptably quick; it’s a far cry from the CVTs that some of its competitors offer. The ride is typically European and feels nice and composed. Its handling is easily class-leading, with very good road grip and a well-weighted steering that delivers good feedback and, on the whole, a nice taut feel. In an age where the driving experience is being anaesthetised, the Vento comes as a nice shot of adrenaline.
Oh, and at this point, I should also mention that, like the Vento, its sister car, the Skoda Rapid, too, gets the fundamentals really spot on; these cars will take you from point A to B safely, in comfort, and will certainly entertain you along the way. Everyone should buy one then, right? Wrong, a 10-year-old car just does not excite you enough, and then there’s the missing equipment and lower resale value that don’t make sense to the head. So no, the Vento and Rapid aren’t cars that I’d recommend. They’re just the one’s I’d gladly buy.
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