In the S mode, the revs mostly stayed above 2,000 rpm & that’s when the German car felt really alive – super quick & super fun.
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A friend recently picked up a Virtus GT (1.5 TSI + DSG) in the dashing Cherry Red shade and I got to drive it for around 50 km.
Here are my thoughts
- The car looks incredibly dashing and the front and side look incredibly good. Wasn’t a fan of the rear though.
- The hood and boot felt strong and hefty whereas the doors felt much lighter than the older VW cars. But everything felt super solid overall.
- Many plastic bits on the interiors looked low-rent and cost-cutting seems evident. The area around the AC vents, roof liner, and certain door pad bits especially didn’t go well with me. No 360-degree camera and importantly, no under-body protection gives an idea of the cost-saving measures. The steering looks fab and feels great to hold as well.
- Loved the seats – the front ones were super supportive and also loved the positioning of the dead pedal. The rear seats felt a tad too firm but it did feel good over a longer period, though I wish it had a slightly more relaxed recline angle. Legroom was abundant!!
- Reverse camera looked bad and did not even have adaptive guidelines. Also, I didn’t like the audio quality overall plus the huge screen + the huge digital speedo console felt more like a distraction. One sore point was the inability to have the Tacho and Speedo on the same screen in an analogue fashion. I’m hating these digital screens more and more – too much info and too much in your face.
- Coming to the Engine – I was crazily waiting to drive the 1.5 TSI + DSG combo. But it did not initially come up to my expectations. In D mode, the start off felt very normal or rather slower than I imagined. The speeds climbed in a very linear fashion and I felt it did not respond well enough to the relative inputs I made. Then came the S mode where the revs mostly stayed above 2k and that’s when the car felt really alive. It was super quick to gain speeds and it was super fun! Shifts were quick and the car stayed in the power band whenever necessary. Some long trips with free roads will sure bring a lot of smiles. The FE though with some energetic driving was in single digits.
- Loved the handling part – it was super solid and stuck to the curves much better than the cars I’ve driven till date. The steering, though light, gave enough confidence. The brakes were brilliant!
- NVH – I wasn’t happy with the amount of vibrations I could feel on the driver’s armrest and some other places around. It definitely did not feel refined enough. The noise did not filter in much though but it sure is sweetly audible post 2k rpm.
- Ride was firm and I could feel a lot of unevenness on the surface but on great roads, the car felt super good over mild undulations and stuck to the surface brilliantly.
- More Negatives – Auto Start-Stop is extremely harsh and I mostly turned it off. Window motors were irritatingly noisy – so much that two other friends who came along for delivery even asked funnily whether it’s already gone bad. VW has missed thoughtful stuff – like a place to keep the keyfob, play/pause & mute on the steering wheel, a better sound system, powered seats, and there’s a dummy button for AEB etc.
- More Positives – Clean interior design (except for AC vents), excellent paint quality, super clean engine bay (1.5), timeless styling, excellent headlights, overall comfort and a long list of safety features.
- Pricing – At 22.5 L, the car is nowhere close to being VFM but it’s a unique offering. I still can’t stop wondering how car prices have risen so sharply and a decade ago, the incredibly sorted Jetta cost lesser than this!
- Comparing with my 2011 Altis VL-AT – fun reason being Virtus is costlier than what the Altis used to cost a decade ago!
The 1.8L Altis feels super relaxed compared to the 1.5 TSI but the turbo’s acceleration after a point is incredible. Though overall, I would like to stick to a larger, NA engine. For some reason, the Altis overall feels more mature and balanced and to me, it clearly feels a segment above.
I love the Virtus steering any day. I love the simple dials of the Altis. Though the numbers speak otherwise, the Altis seems to have a larger boot than the Virtus to me. Virtus seems to have more legroom, esp at the rear. The Altis seats are super comfy though Virtus might have better under-thigh support, more so at the front. I might get out fresher out of an Altis than Virtus – ride quality, relaxed engine and its simplicity. In a racer-boy mode, I’ll always get out of a Virtus happier!
Altis has incredibly practical interiors and Virtus doesn’t feel as sorted, also with a better air-con. Altis sure feels old school (which I actually like). Virtus has way many more safety features!
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