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Volkswagen Vento vs Honda City AT! Which is better?

Last updated on: January 25, 2011 06:59 IST

Volkswagen Vento vs Honda City AT! Which is better?

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Which car is better? Honda City Automatic or Volkswagen Vento Automatic? Honda City has been the favourite of the lot so far, but will the build quality and ride and handling capabilities of the German car manufacturer overthrow the current champion? Let us find out.


On Indian roads, driving can be a physically tasking job. It may even tire you out.

Changing gears, depress the clutch, brake do put a strain on the driver; more so when it comes to driving in bumper-to-bumper city traffic.

This is when you need to be introduced to an automobile with automatic transmission. It's relatively stress free and a comfortable drive is usually guaranteed.

Thus, American populace has amicably adopted all cars automatic (in 2007 about 8 per cent of the total cars sold in the United States were manual).

But we in India still hold a certain prejudice against automatics.

This could be one reason why we don't see many automatic transmissions in cars within the Rs 11 lakh (Rs 1.1 million) bracket even today.

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Automatic? Average kitna deta hai? Do anything to convince the person and you will only be driving up a wall.

But the fact remains, the manual version of the Vento petrol returned us a fuel efficiency of 11.2 kpl, while the automatic variant's efficiency was 10.1 kpl.

If one wishes to buy a petrol automatic sedan, the only options in this price bracket include the Volkswagen Vento, Honda City and the Maruti Suzuki SX4.

So we will help you figure out which car will be the best to reduce this manual labour and help you make an ideal choice between the Honda City and the Volkswagen Vento automatics.

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Volkswagen's strong advertising and marketing strategy has made Polo one of the most of well-known hatchbacks in India. The modus operandi has now shifted to the Vento -- Volkswagen's latest.

The Vento looks similar to the Polo, but the boot doesn't seem to be an after-thought and it unifies well with the front-end of the Vento. The Vento looks very executive-like and there remain no reasons to dislike the design.

The Volkswagen Vento gets the typical German build quality where the doors shut with a 'thunnkk' and you feel insulated from the world once you step inside the car.

The interior plastic quality and fit and finish are top notch maintaining the prestige of the VW badge. The interior styling is simple and sober with dark brown and beige interiors.

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Volkswagen has the traditional in-dash mp3 player with no auxiliary or USB input. The interiors are very Polo-like except for a few extra frills like the climatic control air-con, electric mirrors, centre armrest and some chrome on the steering wheel.

The Vento can comfortably accommodate four adults as the tunnel in the second row makes it uncomfortable for three. The rear seat passengers sit lower increasing the headroom, legroom isn't an issue by any way, and the firm and supportive seats make long trips comfortable.

The automatic option is available only with the petrol engine of the Vento.

This is a 1.6-litre petrol engine that produces 104bhp of power and 153Nm of maximum torque meshed with a six-speed automatic  tiptronic transmission (first in class to get a six speed box).

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This is the torque converter and epicyclic gear transmission not the Volkswagen DSG, as it is expensive. We have already seen this engine powering the Volkswagen Polo and the Skoda Fabia.

Volkswagen has tuned this engine for better fuel economy and it pulls the car cleanly if not strongly. The engine doesn't rev freely but the quick shifting box compromises the engine lag.

The Vento just like any other Volkswagen has great road manners. You can dive into tight corners and go quick around a hairpin without a second thought.

The ride on the Vento feels a bit too stiff and some road shocks get filtered into the cabin.

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Under most driving conditions, the steering is light and it's easy to manoeuvre through the city traffic and parking.

The 185/65/R15 tyres provide abundant grip and the Apollo Acelere on our press demonstrator produced some tyre roar on concrete roads.

The current-generation Honda City has a very sleek looking design signifying its zeal to race. The car looks elegant just like a race car and doesn't have haunches in its design to make it look muscular.

Honda has launched the City Exclusive, a limited edition variant in the V variant offering some extra frills like leather upholstery, body coloured mud-flaps and a few more tidbits.

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Get inside the City and you are introduced to the cockpit-like styling with orange backlit dash and centre console and a Civic-like three-spoke steering wheel.

The City gets the black and beige interiors and an easy to operate centre console with fairly large buttons and knobs.

Honda has provided an in-dash music system that plays music only from your USB or Aux-in with no traditional CD player (there is an option to fit a CD player by replacing the USB port). 

The large dashboard of the City gives the driver a cab forward design feel and the beige colour makes the inside look airy and spacious.

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The front seats can comfortably accommodate large adults without any squeeze. Climb in the second and you will realize it's tight on headroom if you're a six-footer.

The rear seats offer ample of legroom but without proper thigh support which could be tiring on long journeys.  The 506 litres of boot space in the City is good enough, but the access to it is poor as the loading slit is high and narrow.

The overall plastic quality on the Honda City is good enough for the H badge, however there are a few places where cost cutting is clearly evident and the overall build quality is very Japanese-like (light and efficient) and a lot of road noise intrudes into the cabin.

Honda has always built great, happy to be red lined engines with the City's 1.5-litre motor being no exception.

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This 1.5-litre engine churns out a peak power of 117bhp (the best power in class) and a maximum torque of 146Nm and gets Honda's i-Vtec valvetrain, which is Honda's speak for intelligent variable timing.

The responsive engine makes it fun to drive. Blip the throttle and the engine growls happily to 7000rpm producing a sporty exhaust note.

This engine is available with an option of five-speed manual or automatic transmission. The autobox is made up of the traditional torque converter and epicyclic gear train and gets paddle shifts for manual shifting. 

The shifts on the box feel a bit sluggish but the slow shifts get overshadowed by the peppy engine.

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The City like any other Honda fairs decently in the handling department and has good ride quality. The suspension is a tad soft due to which the City can smoothly glide over ruts and jolts absorbing all the road shocks.

The City handles fairly well; however, it does lose out at some high speed corners. The culprit here is the skinny tyres (profile of 175/65/R15) which tend to give up at higher speeds.

Apart from this there is no other issue with the Honda City. The steering wheel weighs up well with increase in speed and brakes bite well too.

The Volkswagen Vento with its German build quality, high notch plastics and roomy interiors, quick shifting gearbox and the amazing handling is a great overall package to buy if you're a sober person who is looking for a premium badge with  a complete no-nonsense sedan.

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The Honda City on the other hand with its razor sharp design, funky interiors, peppy engine is a great buying option for those who are young at heart.

The Volkswagen Vento costs Rs 10.81 lakh (Rs 1.081 million), on-road, Mumbai; whereas the Honda City AT costs Rs 11.57 lakh (Rs 1.157 million) on-road, Mumbai).

So is it worth paying this amount for the City when you get the VW badge at a lesser cost? The answer would a yes, if you're an enthusiast.



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