In an effort to up the ante in the ever competitive B-segment, Volkswagen unveiled the Vento sedan a couple of months ago. The car, which is basically an enhanced Polo Sedan, actually has a lot big plans from what we could see at the launch.
With the Polo Sedan slowly, but surely becoming dated, it was timely that the German manufacturer updated it with a few cosmetic touches, and also with a new variant powered by a 1.2 TSI engine, raising the stakes against the Honda City, Toyota Vios, and the Nissan Almera.
So, in order to show us what the new variant – the Vento 1.2 TSI Highline has to offer, Volkswagen Malaysia invited us over for a media test drive session from Kuala Lumpur to Penang last month, and truth be told, it was more interesting than what we had expected.
Engine: 1.2-litre, Inline-4, Turbo, Petrol Direct Injection
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
Power: 105 PS at 5,000 rpm
Torque: 175 Nm from 1,500-4,100rpm
Safety: ESC, ABS with BA, ICRS, four airbags, ISOFIX
Fuel consumption (claimed): 5.5 litres/100 km
Price: RM93,888 excluding insurance
As we mentioned, the Vento is the facelifted Polo Sedan which has been given a new name, and a series of cosmetic as well as mechanical updates.
Available in three variants – Comfortline, Trendline, and Highline, the version which we tested; the Highline, gets a turbocharged 1.2-litre TSI engine paired to a 7-speed dual clutch DSG automatic transmission, while the remaining two variants will continue to use the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated MPI engine and 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission from the previous Polo Sedan.
Assembled locally at Volkswagen’s plant in Pekan, Pahang, the Vento Highline is priced at RM93,888, while the Comfortline and Trendline variants ask for RM86,888 and RM79,888 respectively.
And this is pretty much how the Vento fares against the main competitors:
VW Vento Highline
Honda City 1.5 V
Toyota Vios 1.5G (AT)
Nissan Almera 1.5VL
1.5L N.A. SOHC
1.5L N.A. DOHC VVT-i
1.5L DOHC CVTC
Outside, a few things distinguish the Vento from the Polo, such as a new wheel design, larger grille with chrome lines, redesigned bumper and bonnet, as well as the rectangular fog lights up front.
Behind, the car features LED taillights, a redesigned bumper and two chrome lines on the bumper and the boot lid respectively, giving the car a more premium appearance.
Thanks to these tweaks, the Vento actually looks more like a mini Passat, and in fact, if seen from a mile away, we wouldn’t know if we’re looking at a Vento, a Jetta, or a Passat. That is how similar these cars look to one another now.
Once we jumped into the car, we noticed that the interior was unmistakably Volkswagen – Simple, yet well built. No, you don’t get leather and all that but the fabric, and the materials used to build the dashboard, the buttons, the levers and other components are of impeccable quality for a car in the B-segment.
And just like the exterior, updates are subtle in the Vento. The car gets the leather-clad flat-bottomed steering wheel with a touch of glossy black accent. And then, there is the centre console which gets silver accent, making things appear to be a tad more pleasant to the eye compared to the predecessor.
Other features in the Vento Highline include automatic powered windows with ‘anti-pinch’ feature all around, 60:40 split-folding rear seats, ‘Cable’ seat fabric upholstery, 320G infotainment system with 4 speakers, USB, SD card, and AUX-in connectivity, rear air-cond vents, cruise control, and four airbags. Where practicality is concerned, the boot offers 454-litres of storage space.
Storing things like water bottles, mobile phones and the Smart Tag during our drive to Penang from KL was not an issue at all as there were many compartments all around. What we love most about the cabin is how spacious it is. However, roomy as it was, the rear seats felt too hard for our liking; the front seats, on the other hand, was just right and provided good support throughout.
How does it drive?
The Vento Highline is one of those cars which you have to drive yourself to see its capabilities, simply because what you see on the brochure doesn’t really show what it can really do.
On paper, 105PS and 175Nm doesn’t look that impressive but believe it or not, this car can actually keep up with most Japanese 2.4-litre D-segment sedans out there.
Yes, powering the car is nothing more than a tiny turbocharged 1.2-litre engine but the way it works together with the 7-speed DSG gearbox and delivers power is mindblowing. Never once did we feel that the car was struggling, and the best part is that it sips on fuel like it’s allergic to it.
While claimed fuel consumption readings stand at 5.5-litres per 100km, we drove from Puchong to Penang and back, with slightly more than a quarter tank of fuel left.
If we are to compare it with its rivals, the Vento beats the City, Vios, and the Almera by miles in terms of performance, handling, and also refinement. The only area in which the Volkswagen might fall behind is reliability, simply because its powertrain is more complex than the ones in Japanese cars.
However, Volkswagen Group Malaysia said that it should not be an issue as a lot of local content has gone into the car, and that all major issues revolving around the DSG gearbox have been rectified.
That aside, the Vento turned out to be a decent drive overall throughout our journey up north and back.
Based on what we have seen so far, it is safe to say that the Vento Highline is a worthy option for those who are looking for a brand new sedan for under RM100,000.
Not only is it the first turbocharged model in its segment, but also arguably the most fuel efficient and the best handling model in class. Plus, the fact that it is powered by a 1.2-litre engine means that even the road tax would cost the least compared to its rivals.
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On another note, Volkswagen Malaysia is having a promotion now where those who purchase the Vento are entitled to free monthly instalments until end of the year.
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