A punchy turbo-petrol engine and a convenient enough gearbox and clutch make the Virtus manual a likeable package.
What we have here is the Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI manual, and if you go by the price, it’s the starting point for the sedan’s range in India. Prices start at Rs 11.21 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Comfortline trim and top-off at Rs 14.41 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Topline version featured here. It runs the same 115hp and 178Nm, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre, direct-injection, TSI turbo-petrol unit as the Virtus 1.0 TSI AT we’ve featured before, albeit with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT: performance and refinement
It might be the entry point to the Virtus range but that’s not the only reason to consider it. The engine-gearbox combo is rather likeable. The engine starts out smoothly and performance-wise you really won't have any problem keeping up with the flow of traffic. Sure, when you do press down hard for a quick overtake from low speeds, there’s some hesitation under 1,800rpm, but after that, you really won't be left wanting for power. What also helps the experience in town is that the gear ratios are well selected, so you won't be changing gears all that often. Gear shifts are nice and smooth, and even the clutch is very progressive and easy to modulate, if slightly long in travel.
As standard, the Virtus gets idle stop-start, which shuts the engine off at long halts to save fuel, but you'd probably override the system on hot days to keep the air conditioner running. It's when you're idling at said long halts that you'd have that happy realisation that the vibrations typically associated with a three-cylinder engine are missing. Even when you're driving at normal speeds, you won't really hear much from the engine bay. Drive a bit harder and you will find that the note is a bit grainy, and when you drive a lot harder, the engine does get fairly audible.
The thing is, this engine will entice you to drive with enthusiasm every now and then. It feels lively in the mid-range, and if you really extend it, it will even rev well past 6,000rpm. When you're in the mood, you'll have great fun slamming through the gears too.
Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT: ride and handling
Complementing that performance is keen handling. It's entertaining in the corners and feels poised. Keen drivers would have liked a slightly weightier steering, though. In other areas, this Virtus is no different to the ones we've driven before already. At higher speeds, you’ll like the European car sure-footedness and at low speeds, you'll note that the suspension absorbs a lot of the bumps very well.
Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT: interior and features
Elsewhere too, the Virtus has a long list of strengths. Highlights include a stylish dashboard (though there are no soft-touch materials), large and supportive front seats, great legroom at the back and a massive 521-litre boot. Features-wise, the Virtus’ Topline trim does well for itself, with a large 10-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an eight-speaker audio system, digital dials and very handy ventilated front seats. The safety kit includes six airbags as well as ESC, and what stays with you is that all-encompassing feeling of toughness to the car.
Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT: design and styling
The Volkswagen Virtus is a handsome sedan and has that all-important ‘big car’ air about it. The 1.0 TSI versions are available in Dynamic Line form, which means the exterior comes with crisp chrome detailing and diamond-cut alloy wheels. For reference, Performance Line versions are identifiable by their blacked-out wheels and subtler use of chrome.
Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT: verdict
Given our ever-worsening traffic conditions, a manual wouldn’t be the version we’d readily recommend. However, like with the Slavia, its cousin from Skoda, things are different with the Virtus 1.0 TSI MT. It’s a car that’s convenient enough to drive in town yet one that delivers the fun you’d associate with a manual car. That it’s Rs 1.3 lakh more affordable than a comparable Virtus 1.0 AT makes it that whole lot more interesting.
2022 Volkswagen Virtus 1.0 TSI MT video review