First Impressions: Volkswagen Vento, through B roads and highways

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VW Vento Media Drive (14)We know what you’re thinking: why Vento and not Polo Sedan? Let’s get this out of the way. The Vento is to the Polo, what the Jetta is to the Golf – basically a sedan variant of the hatchback. Launched just some weeks back, the new Vento is essentially a facelift that sees minor changes to both exterior and interior trim. The Vento is now offered in three variants (Trendline, Comfortline and Highline), and thanks to Volkswagen Group Malaysia, we were invited for a trip up north in a fleet of Vento Highline cars.

As the world progresses towards a greener this and a more efficient that, car makers alike have adopted forced induction as a replacement for displacement. The 1.2-litre turbocharged motor in the Highline is paired with a 7-speed DSG gearbox. This motor might be tiny, but it makes the same amount of power as its 1.6-litre naturally aspirated sibling (used in the Trendline and Comfortline), and also produces more torque (175Nm vs 152Nm).

Outright speed shouldn’t matter for a car in this segment, but it is interesting to note that the Vento Highline doesn’t take much effort to get past illegal highway speeds and pips all its rivals in the century sprint. We also managed to stretch its legs to just a whisker under 200km/h out on a clear stretch of highway. Pretty impressive stuff, indeed.

VW Vento Media Drive (18)The Vento’s steering wheel is taken off a MK7 Golf and generally feels good. It lacks the paddle shifters though, and you need to slot the gear knob to the left for manual shifting. As you can expect, gearshifts in the DSG7 autobox are super smooth and quick, but change gears manually and it just somehow feels off. Of course, you can slot in to Sport and the shifts only happen at higher revs and you will never see 7th gear; not even on a long stretch of tarmac.

Cabin build quality is decent – missing are the soft-touch plastics you might expect from CBU veedubs, but the inside of the Vento looks and feels a grade above its Japanese counterparts, especially with the silver trim finish on the dashboard. Switchgear layout is intuitive too, and there’s plenty of cabin space and cubby holes for your various bits and bobs. Both my co-driver and myself are of above average build and the front armrest can occasionally get in the way. Luckily, this can be folded up to free up more real estate. The Vento also flows air into the glovebox too – good for stowing food (like chocolate!) on long road trips.

But the most important question really, is the ease of connectivity from your mobile phone to the headunit. Yes, you only ever need to do it once, but why should it be a difficult affair, right? Well, good news here – painless and zero issues with both iPhone and Android. So seamless to pair that we had to have a rule between my co driver and I; the person behind the wheel controls the music.

VW Vento Media Drive (4)Arriving in Penang with no incident and after some light refreshments, were told that our route to dinner would lead us from the hotel in Gurney Drive towards Balik Pulau. For those who don’t know, this is a good 30-40 minutes of twisty mountain pass roads. I enjoy the occasional corner attack, so I decided to set off as the last car in the hopes of clearer traffic.

I’m a little extra enthusiastic through the Balik Pulau route and watch as the average fuel consumption figures drop from 8.4-litres/100km from our highway cruise up north, to 7.1-litres/100km. Despite the twisty tarmac, the Vento felt composed and sure-footed throughout. You can tell that the car’s chassis can easily handle more power.

The ride quality is firm, not hard, and it munches on corners pretty well. In the city however, the springs seemed a little softer than I expected; going through bumps, you can feel the ‘drop’ is slightly on the dramatic side. That’s not to say the car isn’t comfortable – during our journey back to the city, my co-driver slept through most of the way, despite my heavy-footed driving.

VW Vento Media Drive (3)Our overall first impressions of the Vento Highline are positive. The overall package seems like a winner – comfortable, spacious, punchy motor, good handling, all that for under RM100k. It might not look like much has changed, but this facelift is a positive step forwards. Prior to this, the Polo Sedan struggled by being compared visually to a particular model from one local car maker. Although changes are minimal, the Vento fixes this perception, and as far as rivals go, we struggle to think of one that can out run, out brake, or even our maneuver this car.

VW Vento Media Drive (19)We’re really looking forward to our slot with the Vento when we get the car for a couple of days. In the meantime, enjoy the gallery below.

*Some pictures courtesy of Volkswagen Group Malaysia

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mm

From supercar spotting on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Won has moved onto the realms of motoring journalism since 2011. He has a keen eye for automotive photography, a penchant for fast cars, and the occasional hunger for munching corners.

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