Over the years Volkswagen has created a niche for itself when it comes to automatic cars, mainly backed by its dual-clutch transmission technology, better known as Direct-Shift Gearbox or DSG automatic. In fact, VW has been pushing its automatic transmission as one of its biggest USPs, globally, as well as in the Indian market. However, DSG units are expensive, so when the carmaker was making the shift to the BS6 emission norms, VW decided to replace the much-loved DSG automatic unit with a more cost-effective torque converter. Particularly, in its lower segment cars, like the Polo and Vento. Now, we have already tested the new powertrain and gearbox combination in the Polo GT TSI and told you all about it. Much recently we got a chance to test it again in the Vento, and here's how it faired.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
The 2020 Volkswagen Vento automatic is powered by the same 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine that does duty in the manual version of the car. In fact, it's amusing when you think that that in the last few months alone, we have tested this very same engine in five different cars. Starting with the Skoda Rapid 1.0 TSI, which was followed by the manual variants of the Polo and Vento, respectively, and later the Polo GT TSI. And, now again, in the Vento automatic.
The 999 cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine offers the same power output, which stands at 108 bhp, and peak power is achieved between 5000 to 5,500 rpm. On the other hand, torque output stands at 175 Nm, which is developed from as low as 1750 rpm, going all the way up to 4,000 rpm. In terms of performance, it's very similar to the Vento manual, in the lower revs you notice a bit of a turbo lag, but beyond 2200 to 2500 rpm, it opens up and shows us its true colours, achieving triple-digit speeds in no time.
The big change, of course, is the new 6-speed automatic torque converter unit, and the first thing you'll notice is that it has a very strong creep function. As soon as you put it on drive mode and lift your foot off the brakes, the car almost instantly launches ahead, and I spoke about it in the Polo GT TSI review as well. So, you will have to get used to it a bit, and also have a sure foot on the brake pedal in stop-and-go traffic. The gearbox certainly feels quite quick and responsive, but if you have driven the DSG version, you'll notice that it does not offer that same level of refinement and precision. Nonetheless, it's certainly fun to drive, and if you want to make it a bit more engaging then just shift the lever to Sport mode and the car feels a lot quicker. That's because in Sport mode the shift becomes a bit more aggressive, but, at the same time you also feel the jerks inside the cabin, but it's certainly not a big trade-off. Although, if you need to have the controls in your hand then just shift the lever to manual mode and use the Tiptronic function to upshift and downshift, making it a bit more engaging.
Having said that, I have to say, I did enjoy this engine and gearbox combination tad more in the Polo GT TSI. The overall performance certainly felt a lot more engaging in the hot hatch, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Vento is bigger and heavier than the Polo. To put things into perspective, the Vento automatic come with a kerb weight of 1175 kg, making it 37 kg heavier than the Vento manual and 82 kg heavier than the Polo GT.
The Volkswagen Vento automatic continues to drive like a charm. It's easily manoeuvrable while driving in the city, be it the traffic or narrow lanes, and the automatic transmission just boosts that convenience factor. On the highways, the car just feels rock solid. The Vento also continues to be a great handling car, be it on the straights or the corners, and the steering also weighs up nicely imparting more confidence in you, even while doing triple-digit speeds. As for the suspension, like the manual version, it's set a bit on the softer side and thus nicely absorbs most of the undulations on the road with total ease, offering a smooth drive.
Also Read: 2020 Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Review
Design and Styling
Visually, the 2020 Volkswagen Vento automatic remains identical to its manual counterpart, as you get the same updated face with the GTI-inspired honeycomb grille and matching mesh pattern for the wide airdam, giving it a sporty look. The car also features a pair of dual-chamber LED headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lamps, and below you have a pair of sleek foglamps. The car also features the same 16-inch Portago 10-spoke grey alloy wheels, along with the same electrically operable ORVMs with LED turn signal lights, and a chrome strip on the doors and black side skirts. At the rear, the car features a pair of smoked taillamps and a beefy bumper with black underbody cladding with honeycomb pattern design element, to mirror the front bumper.
Interior and Features
Step inside, and you'll notice that except for the new gear lever, the rest of the cabin remains identical to the manual Highline Plus variant. You get the same beige and black dual-tone interior with a solid fit and finish. The seats are upholstered in the same beige faux leather and continue to offer good lumbar support to the driver. The dashboard continues to come with a multi-functional flat-bottom steering wheel, wrapped in faux leather, and no it still doesn't feature paddle shifters.
Along with a twin-pod instrument cluster and a small MID unit, the new Vento automatic also gets the same touchscreen infotainment system, featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, along with Bluetooth, AUX-IN and USB connectivity. The adjustable centre armrest upfront and the foldable rear armrest are also on offer, along with the rear AC vents. In term of safety, this top-spec Highline Plus Automatic variant comes with 4 airbags, ABS with EBD, rain-sensing wipers, Auto-dimming Interior Rear-view Mirror, and rear parking sensors with a rear camera.
The automatic option for the Vento is only offered with the higher-spec Highline and Highline Plus variants, which are priced at ₹ 12.10 lakh and ₹ 13.30 lakh respectively. At that price, except for the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, the Vento manages to undercut most of the top-spec variants of its rivals by a decent margin. However, all the other models in the segment offer an automatic trim at least from the mid-spec trim and above, thus offering more variant options to customers, including the Vento's Czech cousin, the Skoda Rapid. Furthermore, the Vento also falls short in terms of styling and features like a wireless phone charger, a sunroof, or even an engine start-stop button for that matter. So, if such creature comforts are important to you, then you should defiantly give the Vento a miss. However, if you a looking for a car with a strong build, enjoyable driving manners, decent features, and an engaging automatic transmission, then the Vento automatic is certainly, worth considering. Although, if want all that but at a more affordable price point, then the Rapid has more variants to choose from and its entry-level automatic trim is ₹ 2.61 lakh cheaper than the Vento.
Photos: Pawan Dagia