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Rating 9 9

Volkswagen Vento 1.6 TDi

2nd Dec 2010 8:00 am

The Vento is the result of  painstaking homework  by Volkswagen


  • Make : Volkswagen
  • Model : Vento

Unlike many saloons derived from hatchback body styles, the Vento looks like it was meant to have a boot all along – that’s how well integrated the third box is. It’s a simple, handsome design and one that echoes the Polo right up to the B-pillar, which is in fact a shame. With the only difference at the front being the chrome highlights on the chin, the lower grille design and the round foglamps, the Vento looks too similar to the Polo for comfort – and we prefer the Polo’s sportier chin. From the rear, the Vento with its huge boot looks big. The tail-lamp design looks a bit old-fashioned and the rear isn’t particularly exciting and at best it’s a clean and understated design.

The Vento is based on the same platform as the Polo but is 414mm longer, of which a massive 96mm has gone into increasing the wheelbase. You can clearly see the additional length by the amount of space in the rear of the Vento. Also, the rear track is 35mm wider and the wider haunches have allowed a wee bit more width for the rear seat. The Vento adopts the Polo’s MacPherson strut front suspension and non-independent trailing arm rear setup, modified to adjust for the wider track. Also different from the Polo is the steering, which has been made a wee bit heavier by tweaking the software on this electric setup.

The fit and finish and consistency of panel gaps are top class but what’s disappointing is the way the doors shut – with an unsatisfying and hollow thud. This reflects the light build of the Vento which, at 1,220kg (for the diesel), is just 95kg more than an equivalently specced Polo – impressive considering how much more car the Vento is. The Vento petrol is 100kg lighter than the diesel and on par with other saloons in the segment, except for the Linea which is the heaviest.

The cabin is classy and understated. It may not have the flair of its competitors but it does feel better put together. The beige and brown interiors are highlighted by high-quality silver accents, but the hard-wearing surfaces speak more about durability than luxury and some of the plastics feel below standard. The slab-like dashboard is similar to the Polo and a bit too high-set for short drivers without the seat height adjust (on the Trendline) while the narrow rear window and head restraints don’t help visibility at the back.

The switches have a solid and tactile feel. The sole letdown is the tiny buttons on the console for the climate control system (only on the Highline) which seem out of sync with the other chunky looking switchgear. The locking system is a bit impractical as there are no physical locks and all the locking has to be done by the driver. The absence of an external boot release (only the Highline has remote opening) is also inconvenient.

The front seats are extremely comfortable with good under-thigh support and tall passengers won’t have a problem, thanks to the generous seat travel. The driver gets a steering that adjusts for reach and rake but we found the central armrest a bit too obstructive. The rear seats have lots of legroom and headroom is good too, thanks to a less swoopy roof line. The rear seatback is a bit too upright and you sink a touch too low into the seat squab. Also, the middle passenger doesn’t have a good time due to the big central tunnel.

All variants of the Vento get a rear air-con vent and a very clever feature - you can move the front passenger seat forward or backward from the rear seat via a lever – it’s so simple and innovative that we wonder why no one else thought of it before. The Vento is currently available only in the base Trendline and top-end Highline variants. The Trendline gets basics like power steering, power windows, air-con and central locking but little else. The Highline in addition gets power mirrors, climate control, 15-inch alloys ABS, front airbags, CD/MP3 player, remote locking and driver’s seat height adjust. There’s a big cubbyhole in the centre console, one centre armrest and the glovebox is among the most useful.  The 454-litre boot is adequate and the inner lining of the boot lid is a nice touch.

The Vento’s primary objective is to be a comfortable saloon and the suspension is set up that way. At low speeds it rides with sophistication, absorbs bumps well except for some sharp ones which filter through. The Vento’s ride quality isn’t quite as accomplished as the Linea’s and its suspension can get clunky but the long-travel suspension soaks up bad roads pretty well. At high speed, the ride is again quite pliant and there’s a nice supple edge to the way it coasts over a bad patch. However, the front is a touch too soft and the nose bobs up and down on an uneven surface, particularly on the diesel which has a heavier nose.

Just like in the Polo, the Vento’s ride isn’t as flat or consistent as we would have liked. The electric steering too doesn’t exactly bristle with feel but it quietly does the job without much communication to the driver. The long wheelbase and wider rear track give the Vento stability through corners but it doesn’t like quick direction changes and on the limit the Vento understeers strongly.

In the city the Vento is a very user-friendly car, the light steering, soft clutch and easy gearshift make it a breeze to drive in traffic and in that sense the VW saloon demands little of the driver. To sum up, the Vento is a nicely judged mix of good ride and decent handling.

Volkswagen Vento 1.6 TDi
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