Volkswagen Vento TSI Highline - a rewarding driver's car

By THOMAS HUONG | 1 June 2016

The Volkswagen Vento TSI Highline sedan outguns its B-segment rivals in performance and motoring joy.

That was what a bunch of writers found out during a recent 406km media drive from Puchong, Selangor to Penang.

Only the 1.2-litre turbocharged Vento TSI Highline with a 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) was made available for the drive.

5D3_0718 (Custom)

The Vento TSI is a rewarding driver's car, albeit not at the level of the RM160,000 higher-powered 1.4-litre, DSG-equipped Golf hatchback.

To recap, the locally-assembled Vento is a facelifted Polo sedan which was launched recently in three trims - the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated Trendline (RM80,646) and Comfortline (RM87,646) and the 1.2-litre turbocharged Highline (RM94,461), along with a five-year warranty with unlimited mileage and mobility guarantee.

Also, for a limited time, the first 500 Vento buyers will enjoy early bird prices starting from RM77,888 which is a RM2,000 discount for each variant.

5D3_1591 (Custom)

Only the Vento TSI Highline has a dual-clutch automatic DSG, while the other two variants have a six-speed automatic with torque converter.

Like other turbocharged and DSG-equipped Volkswagen cars, the Vento has impressively quick acceleration to high speeds.

There is abundant low and mid-range torque to propel its 1,178kg kerb weight, and this is smoothly delivered by the DSG under hard acceleration.

For even quicker response, just shift the gear lever into S or sport mode.

5D3_1597 (Custom)

Powerful cars with smaller displacements like the 1.2-litre Vento TSI are still a novelty in Malaysia; and one writer on the drive was overheard exclaiming, "It's hard to believe this is a 1.2-litre engine!".

If you are an impatient driver, the Vento TSI Highline is tough to beat in the sub-RM100,000 car segment.

The 105ps Vento TSI has lots of low-end grunt, with 175Nm of torque at 1,550 to 4,100rpm - making it the most powerful car in its class.

Our 406km route to Penang involved a good mix of highway and back-country roads, which took us past Kuala Kubu Bharu and Tanjung Tualang.

5D3_1602 (Custom)

The suspension set-up is well sorted out, and we found a good balance of comfort and sportiness.

Steering response is precise, and there was abundant grip from the wide, low profile ContiPremiumContact2 tyres sized 215/45 R16.

Ride and handling quality is impressive, and this was evident on a 27km drive with many hilly twists and bends, from Persiaran Gurney in Penang to Balik Pulau, where we had the "King of Fruits" as it was the durian season.

5D3_1535 (Custom)

Noise insulation is satisfactory, and wind, road and exhaust noise was far from overwhelming even when we stepped hard on the throttle.

As for the bells and whistles, we think the kit level here is more than decent although there are no leather seats, touchscreen display or reverse camera.

You get a speed senstive electronic power steering, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, halogen headlights, anti-pinch for all four one-touch up and down power windows, cruise control, a four-speaker audio system with USB and iPod interface, SD Card slot, Aux-in and Bluetooth, steering wheel with audio and phone control switches, automatic air-conditioning as well as rear air-conditioning vents.

5D3_1533 (Custom)

The cabin is spacious, and we found more than adequate rear leg and head room for 1.7-metre adults.

Storage options include a sizeable and cooled passenger glove box, front centre armrest with a small storage box and rear cup holder, door bins, front seat-back pockets and a 454-litre boot.

Safety features include four airbags and electronic stability control (ESC), and it should be noted the Vento TSI Highline was rated the maximum 5-star by ASEAN NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme for Southeast Asia).

5D3_1587 (Custom)

As for concerns regarding reliability, a statement from the German automaker says it has taken the necessary improvements to rectify issues by using new and improved parts or components in all its vehicles.

Regarding annual servicing costs, Volkswagen says the average cost for the Vento 1.2-litre TSI and 1.6-litre MPI is RM750 and RM940 respectively.

Servicing costs is based on five-year vehicle ownership, and the service interval is 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first).

5D3_1600 (Custom)

The Vento TSI Highline certainly makes a very persuasive case to build more cars with powerful but smaller displacement, fuel efficient engines.

Fuel consumption is rated at 5.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

The Vento TSI Highline is not just an entry-level family-friendly sedan; it's also a lot of fun to drive.

Volkswagen Vento 1.2L TSI (Highline)
Engine: 1,197cc 4-cylinder petrol, direct injection, turbocharged
Maximum power: 105ps at 5,000rpm
Maximum torque: 175Nm at 1,550 to 4,100rpm
Transmission: 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG)
Features: Four airbags, ABS with brake assist, electronic stability control (ESC), hill hold control, rear parking sensors, rear fog light, ISOFIX anchor system for child seat, Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS)
Price: RM94,461 (excluding insurance); five-year warranty with unlimited mileage, five-year mobility guarantee

5D3_0715 (Custom)