My last little sojourn with our turbo-petrol-powered VW mid-sizer culminated in a wonderful thrash down the highway with two deliciously excessive super-SUVs (Autocar India July 2014). Oh you bet it was a blast. And at quite the opposite end of the spectrum, this month the Vento TSI and I got a hard taste of the more mundane side of motoring, which involved a large amount of sitting stationary in maddening Mumbai traffic. But then, this is where a car like this is supposed to shine, right? The automatic gearbox means your left calf muscle can relax and the smooth petrol engine means you don’t have to contend with an annoying clatter at idle. And thanks to peppy responses from the direct-injection turbo engine, when the traffic does start moving again, you can quickly close the gap in front of you before that pesky cab cuts you off. It really does have the potential to be the ideal car — at least in its segment — for negotiating congestion.
Automatic gearbox means your elbow no longer bumps into the armrest; and you can actually use it to rest your arm now.
However, as with my experience out on the highway, it’s not all sunshine and daisies, and driving the Vento TSI in traffic brought its own set of little niggles. For one, that DSG gearbox – it’s absolutely fine when you’re cruising steadily, but ask for a sudden change in pace and it will panic and bounce between a few gears before settling on the right one. This is particularly evident when you haven’t noticed a traffic light turning green and suddenly have to get a move on after a few sharp honks from the cars behind you.
Bits like the rear light switch look like they will last forever.
The other thing about being stuck in traffic is that you start to notice things in a car’s cabin that you otherwise never would have. I was pleased to note that, amidst a market full of integrated audio systems designed to fit Apple’s iOS, here was one that integrated fully with Android too – it managed to grab audio track data off my phone, even when streaming via Bluetooth; not something I see too often, sadly. Then there were the cupholders, which at first I thought were stupidly large and incapable of holding anything in place, said phone included, until I realised a brace has to be flipped into place for a tighter fit — clever and flexible.
Good Andriod integration via Bluetooth was a pleasent surprise.
I also managed to notice a few unsavoury elements though, like the triangular piece of exposed metal inside of the rear window frame — an eyesore in an otherwise impeccably trimmed cabin. And speaking of trim, a lot of it is a very light beige colour, and the way it attracts dirt makes the Autocar test team seem 10 times filthier than we actually are. Finally, there are a few things on the inside that detract from that ‘tank-like build’ that we so often like to associate with German cars — things like the driver’s window switch, which despite the car having been to VW and back, still dangles loosely in its enclosure.
The TSI was the flagship of the Vento range, as well as our favourite variant — it had the best engine and gearbox combination, and was only available in top spec. I use the past tense, because the Vento has just been given a facelift, and the darling of the range will now undoubtedly be the new 1.5-litre diesel, also available with this seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The 1.2 TSI is still available, of course; in fact, you can even have it in the more affordable Comfortline trim now. It’s also time to say bye to our Vento, and while we’re excited to try out the new TDI automatic, we’d happily have another TSI as a long-termer, Volkswagen.
Front window switches haven't stood the test of time.