The Virtus won’t replace my Skoda Rapid, but it will become my new primary vehicle.
BHPian dr.delete recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
I own a Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI Manual (2013) with 1,50,000 plus kilometres on the odometer. Although I won’t be replacing it soon, I wanted a car to fill its shoes as a primary vehicle.
- Hyundai Creta/Kia Seltos: While the interiors, the feature list and the ride quality are commendable, the driving manners didn’t appeal to my heart. Questions on build quality are aplenty.
- Honda City (Petrol, Diesel, Hybrid): Great comfort, especially the rear seats. But the petrol version lacked the oomph on highways, and the high-speed stability of ICEs wasn’t great. I was just not sure of the hybrid, again, especially on the highways which is where most of my drives would be. Overall, I could just sense that the cars are nearing their age. Also, like the Hyundai, the build quality isn’t something to talk about.
Coming from a Rapid 1.6 TDI with an insane low-end grunt for its segment, the obvious choice was to go for the 1.5 DSG.
- VW Taigun/Skoda Kushaq: Somehow these cars didn’t feel spacious. Also, they lacked road presence. Add to that a decent but not adequate boot space, these cars failed to pull the strings of my heart. The final nail in the coffin was the initial niggles (which is expected of a new platform). Since we were in no hurry to get a new car home, we decided to wait for the sedan versions of the same.
- Skoda Slavia: The most natural ‘upgrade’ for someone coming from a Rapid would be the new Slavia. We liked the Slavia – the cabin space, the comfortable ride, the gearbox, the engine, the boot space. The only reason to not go with the Slavia was to wait for the Virtus before finalising.
- VW Virtus GT: March 8 – I was glued to the VW’s channel on YT for the unveiling. And oh boy, I fell in love with the GT line instantly! Although the lights were pathetic during the unveil, the photos and videos that followed up on the same day made me drool over the car. Visited the VW website for a 360-degree view of the car. And after consulting with my parents, settled for the candy white colour. I was well aware of the chip shortage disrupting the entire supply chain. Hence, by the evening of March 8, I pre-booked the car by paying Rs. 11,000. So, VW Virtus GT DSG Candy White it was!
The following 3 months were sort of torture – waiting for the car, finding solace in whatever social media content I could find in between. The SA got in touch with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a call from SA, neither for the unveil nor when the test drives began. I test drove the car at a completely different location when I was out travelling. I loved the car! I made up my mind to go ahead with the booking and get the car home.
Booking to Delivery Experience:
June 9 – I got a couple of surprises. A pleasant one is that the Virtus DSG undercut the Slavia DSG by some amount (although introductory). The rude one is that the Candy White GT would take ‘minimum’ 2 months to get allotted. I was offered the 1-litre car – I politely rejected it. Then was offered a silver GT, which again, I politely refused.
After pulling a few strings, I was told by the GM that the car would be allotted by month-end. I was happy and willing to wait. Meanwhile, I was offered a demo T-Roc, which I refused based on some deep thinking and the suggestions here on Team-BHP. On Friday, that is, June 17, I got a call from the GM saying my car would reach the dealership by Sunday evening. Woah!! I was over the moon. In no time I initiated the loan process with a local bank. By Saturday, my loan was approved. I waited until Monday morning with crossed fingers.
The first thing I did on Monday was to call the SA. He did confirm that the car had reached the dealership. Hurray! Wasting no time, my brother-in-law and I dashed to the dealership to check the car out in person. And boy, there she was! Seeing her for the first time made my heart skip a beat! After a detailed PDI, I gave a go-ahead to the bank to transfer the amount to the dealership. As for the insurance, I took a quote from HDFC Ergo. The difference between the dealership insurance (Tata AIG) and HDFC Ergo for the same inclusions wasn’t much. Also, I wasn’t keen on getting insurance from the new players. Hence, went ahead with the dealership insurance. Being a DSG gearbox, I did opt for a 4+2 warranty which costs Rs 24,299. I am not yet sure whether to opt for the service package – Hi5 SVP. I have a month to decide. Being a Skoda owner, I got an Rs. 10,000 loyalty bonus discount. The accessory pack included all the basics for Rs 17,000. The OTR price with the extended warranty shot up to Rs 21,65,964 (Maharashtra).
Tuesday being an auspicious day, asked the SA to hand over the car on that day. He didn’t commit as just 1 day wouldn’t be enough for the entire registration process. By late evening on Tuesday, the registration process was all but completed barring the arrival of the number plate which was scheduled on Wednesday. We decided to go ahead with the puja (especially praying for the DSG gearbox :P) on Tuesday. The SA and the GM had no problems.
The delivery experience was smooth. Although there was no cake cutting, we were greeted and treated well. We unveiled the car and took her for a spin within the compound walls amidst the claps. We were presented with a photo frame of the unveil and some Taigun merchandise!? Apparently, the Virtus merchandise hasn’t reached the dealership yet. I would suggest just having some VW merchandise! The merchandise included an assorted chocolate box and a car freshener. I did thank the GM and the SA by giving them an appreciation return gift and boxes of sweets. A quick PDI later I signed the documents. Overall, we were satisfied with the delivery experience. We left the dealership without the car and decided to get her home on Thursday. I was asked by the SA if I wanted to do the unveil again on Thursday for which I refused. On Thursday, I again did a quick PDI, got educated on the various features of the car by the SA, and checked the accessories promised (was informed that the tyre inflator kit wasn’t available and would be given at a later date) and drove her out of the dealership. Had good food on the way home. A day full of joy!
I won’t be going into the technical details of the car as all the information is out there. I would just share my initial experience with the car – how those technicalities translate to the real-world use case. Mind you, these are just initial impressions after about 600 km on the odometer.
The manual clearly states the run-in process. And of course, I decided to follow the advice.
Although I haven’t floored her to the full potential yet due the to run-in process, here are my impressions of the VW Virtus GT:
- She is an all-rounded car. She ticks all the boxes that one would consider while buying a car.
- She looks beautiful. She is a head-turner. GT variant adds subtle but meaningful design elements.
- Although the car hasn’t been crash-tested yet, the build quality feels solid, I would say the best in the segment. The interiors are solidly put together as well.
- VW has got the ride and handling spot on. There is a beautiful balance between the plush ride quality and precise handling with superb high-speed stability.
- Plenty of space – be it legroom, headroom, boot space – long journeys are going to be fun.
- Big on comfort – NVH levels are top-notch, and seats are comfortable with ventilated seats to keep you cool during the extreme summers.
- Plenty of useful features – wireless Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, sleek infotainment, auto headlamps and wipers (headlamps have an excellent throw and illumination), sunroof, digital cluster, coming/leaving home, app connect, cylinder deactivation.
- The paint quality is top-notch – 3 years paint warranty + 11 years of corrosion warranty.
- IMHO, easily the best fun-to-drive car you could get in the segment – the 1.5 litres engine mated to the DSG is a match made in heaven.
- High on safety – 40+ features. 6 airbags, ESC, hill hold control, multi-collision brakes, 3-head rests at the rear, ISOFIX child seat anchorage, disc wiping and many more.
- DSG reliability is still a concern.
- ASS worries – Although much better than what it used to be a few years ago, ASS remains a concern, especially with a complex DSG system when things go wary.
- Evident Cost Cutting – No hood insulation, missing underbody protection, no 360-degree camera, no front parking sensors. The interior light buttons are substandard with the boot mat cutout being an eyesore.
- No windows one-touch functionality. Also, the window motors are noisy and rough.
- The interiors could have been better. Although put together solidly, the interior lacks the premium feel for a 22 lakh car.
- Auto On/OFF is set up quite aggressively. It kicks in even on speed breakers when the car is slowed down, a big safety concern for me.
- No crash rating. VW should proactively get their cars crash-tested.
- Ergonomics could have been better. No play/pause functionality on the steering, no dedicated space to place the key, and no simply clever features.
- The sound system is average with no subwoofer.
- With hybrid/diesel cars in this segment boasting a 20+ km/l fuel economy, the Virtus just lacks behind. Floor the turbo petrol engine and you shouldn’t be surprised to see the fuel economy drop to single digits.
Exterior Looks and Build Quality
Boy those smoked taillights, the spoiler, the dual-tone body, the black alloys, the red brake callipers in front, the sharp lines – all the elements come together so brilliantly. Every time coming/leaving home feature lights the car up, I just admire her and then step inside/go away! I think the car would age well. Also, somehow, VW has done a better job than Skoda in making the car look planted despite the high GC, just an optical illusion.
The crash ratings aren’t out yet. Your guess is as good as mine. But the build quality seems to be good – I would say the best in the segment. Comparing the door heft back-to-back with the Rapid, I hardly find any difference. Panel gaps are minimal and consistent. The interiors are put together nicely. It would be interesting to see how the car would perform in the crash ratings and how she would age. Initial impressions suggest the car to be put together well. Sure, it might not be a tank like the rapid, but I don’t think all the backlash the car received was deserved. The Virtus is a solid car on the face of it. A poor crash rating might change it – hopefully, the car would pass the test with flying colours. VW should proactively crash-test their products.
Ride and Handling
Another area where some of the reviewers suggested it to be a downgrade from the old VAGs. My take is a bit different. The steering is extremely light at low speeds but weighs up brilliantly at higher speeds. The difference was evident when I was parking my cars in the garage back to back. I didn’t push her hard around the corners yet. Yes, the car is bigger than the Rapid. Yes, the car isn’t as agile as the Rapid. But by what margins? Not much, I would say. Virtus is still a great car to drive. What does this little ‘compromise’ give us in return? A ride quality that’s miles ahead. The ride of Virtus is so plush. She soaks the road imperfections brilliantly. You aren’t thrown around the cabin over a bad patch of road. The low-speed ride is comfortable. Only large potholes are felt inside the cabin. The suspension isn’t noisy. The horizontal moment is so well contained and the bucket-like seats hold you snugly in place. Take her on highways at high speeds and the ride gets better. The undulations don’t make it into the cabin. The steering weighs up nicely although I would have liked a tad more weight to the steering at higher speeds. Nonetheless, the steering is precise and has decent feedback. Of course, it’s not as good as the Rapids or Ventos. But it doesn’t lack by much. There sure is some body roll but it is well contained and the car is happy to be pushed around the corners. There is plenty of grip on offer and you always feel confident behind the wheels. VW has made a strategic choice to go with a 16-inch wheel size – again to find that balance between ride and handling. The GoodYear tyres that come as stock are decent enough. There’s prominent tyre noise that creeps inside the cabin. Hopefully changing the tyres would do the trick.
The chassis and the suspension set-up combine like a charm – to give a plush ride and retain the fun-to-drive characteristics of the car at the same time. The high-speed stability is great and the car feels planted even at three-digit speeds. On our roads, which are full of imperfections, I think the ride and handling combination is a big upgrade! VW has got this spot on.
Engine and Gearbox Combination
By far the best thing about this car. The engine is super refined with great oomph. It has all the power you need, 150 horses! Drive with a light foot and the DSG gearbox upshifts the gears without you knowing. Challenge the co-passengers to identify the gear shifts and you would win more often than not.
With a light foot, I didn’t find the DSG to be confused even in the city. The creep functionality is much improved than the previous versions – the car doesn’t lunge, just creeps ever so slowly. But one has to be light-footed because the speed builds up quickly. You build up pace quickly albeit linearly. It’s only when you look at the speedo, you realise the speed. Everything happens so smoothly. The car is lengthy, the light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre in the city.
Take her out on the highways and boy oh boy! Put the pedal to the metal and you hit 120 km/h in no time. The car downshifts a gear or two and gives you the boost that you need. You don’t need to plan the overtakes, just put your foot down and the car does the rest. I haven’t revved her to the red line yet owing to the engine run-in. I am yet to feel the turbo lag, the gearbox masks the lag so brilliantly. You always feel like there is enough grunt. The TSI mated to the DSG is surely an engineering marvel.
There is a slight delay between you pressing the paddle and the car downshifting, one can use the paddle shifters to avoid that minor lag if need be. Paddle shifters are great fun, and feel sporty. But the car automatically puts herself back in the D mode if the paddles aren’t used for some time. I wish this delay should have been a bit more as the car is eager to shift back to the D mode even after a minute or so of not using the paddles. Paddle shifters are connected to the steering itself, hence you exactly know where the paddles are when going around a bend at high speeds.
Being well cocooned inside the cabin, you barely realise the speeds at which you are moving. Highway drives are a breeze with her. This car just begs you to go for long highway journeys. I haven’t put the car into sports mode yet owing to the run-in process. But I just cannot wait to put her in sports mode and just go around a few twisty roads putting that 250 N.m of torque to good use. Cylinder de-activation works perfectly in the background. You don’t realise it at all unless you look for it in the digital cluster. The cluster mentions that the cylinder de-activation is active in one of the cluster views. But there’s a neat little eco icon at the bottom of the cluster which indicates the activation of this feature even when you change the cluster view.
Let’s come to the DSG reliability. There are no two ways about it. DSG remains a concern. Although I have opted for 4+2 years warranty, I am not sure how the warranty would be honoured in case of a DSG failure. And yes, I don’t want to be left stranded in the middle of nowhere. I hope DSG gods spare me – fingers crossed.
The auto on/off is set aggressively. Heck, the engine did cut off on a speed breaker, twice! Although the car didn’t come to a complete halt and the engine kicked in as soon as I pressed the A-pedal, it’s just a safety concern at this point. Also, few vibrations are felt every time the engine cuts off/kicks in, maybe to alert the driver. The auto on/off gets activated by default every time you start the engine. I am yet to find if there is one, the setting to turn this off by default.
The paint quality feels top-notch. Upon closer inspection, one can differentiate the VAG siblings from the competition. The company has provided 3 years of paint warranty and 11 years of corrosion warranty.
Space, Practicality, and Comfort
The car is huge. 521 litres of boot space will gulp up anything you throw at it. The rear seat leg-room is great, the head-room being adequate. The seats have good under-thigh support. The seats are comfortable albeit for 4 due to the bucket-like seats at the rear. Being a GT, the car gets all-black seats with red stitching – only the candy white GT gets seats with white stitching. The front ventilated seats work well. I didn’t find any issues with the AC yet. The AC works well. I will update the AC performance after a month again. Bottle holders and cooled glove box are of decent size. The centre arm-rest has a deep pocket and the centre console has a couple of cup holders. The raised GC is a boon on our roads. You don’t have to plan/think before taking her over a bad stretch of road. Again, the little compromise in looks due to high GC is well justified. Well, the car gets a sunroof, not a panoramic one. How useful that would be in our heat and rains, only time will tell.
Windows one-touch functionality was such a practical feature. Who in the world suggested the management delete this feature!? It’s such a nifty feature on my Rapid. And heck, it even works with the key fob. It’s so useful when you lock the car and want to double-check if the windows are rolled up, if not, long-pressing the lock button on the key fob rolls all the windows up and the blinkers indicate when the task is complete. Also, when parked under the sun, as you approach the car, just press and hold the unlock button and all the windows roll down letting out all the hot air trapped inside. I miss this! Also, the functioning of the motor of the windows is pretty rough. My mom too realised and asked me why the windows rolling up/down sound so rough. It’s a big no. If there’s one thing I would change in the entire car, it would be the window motors and their functioning.
The interiors are minimalistic yet tastefully done. Nothing is in your face. The only concern is with the piano black finish dashboard, it could collect starches easily. Everything is well put-up. Everything feels solid. Fit and finish is good for most parts. All the touch points feel premium to hold. The car comes with aluminium pedals which feel premium.
The infotainment system is sleek. It feels great to use. GT Virtus has a special welcome message. There’s hardly any lag. Wireless Apple CarPlay works flawlessly – it auto connects once you start the car and resumes the music. Siri works well. There is a dedicated button on the steering wheel to activate Siri. The red ambient light adds to that sporty touch in the evening. The light intensity of ambient light, infotainment and instrument cluster can be adjusted. I am yet to use the MyVolkswagen Connect app and hence can’t comment on the connected features.
While most of the dashboard is made of good plastic quality, I hoped for premium materials inside the cabin at this price point. Although the layout is tastefully done, having premium quality materials inside the cabin would have elevated the cabin experience to a completely different level.
Everything is not perfect though. The handbrake could have been of better quality. I could find a few rattles coming from the handbrake. At first, I thought it was the dreaded noise from the doors. But holding the handbrake tight, there was no sound at all. The cabin was silent. The rattles don’t occur on every drive. I just could hear it on a few occasions. Please feel free to suggest any solutions for the same. And yes, I can confirm, it’s the handbrake that rattles in my car.
Although the instrument cluster is not bad in any way as such, I expect a full-sized instrument cluster at this price point as in the other VAG cars, at least on the GT version. Anyway, the current instrument panel displays all the data you would ever need. The icing on the cake would have been the ability to project the maps straight on the instrument cluster.
I couldn’t find any pause/play button on the steering wheel yet. I have to reach the infotainment for that. The handbrake could have been an electronic one, freeing up space in the middle for some additional storage. There’s no dedicated space to place your car keys. Simply clever features are missing as well.
Overall, it is a decent place to be in.
The car cocoons you from the outside world. The engine is refined. You barely feel the vibrations inside the cabin, not much even during the start-up. The wind noise is contained superbly. I could only hear a bit of the rubber. It would be interesting to compare the noise with a new set of tyres after the stock ones wear out. Nevertheless, VW should have provided the car with hood insulation.
Well, the sound system is just okay, decent enough. I am not an audiophile. But I can clearly say that the sound system isn’t the best in the segment. VW even decided to skim on the subwoofer which Skoda provided in the initial batches.
The steering is excellent, and the leather wrapped around it with perforation makes it a joy to hold. It gets both, telescopic and tilt adjustments. Add to that the height-adjustable seats, finding your right seating position is a child’s play.
The visibility is good. The A-pillars are non-obtrusive. The windshield is wide. You get a good view of the road ahead of you. The ORVM is a tad small but gets the job done. I feel the IRVM should have been a tad bigger, you don’t get the best of the views of the rear. Add to that the raised boot, and the rear view is limited.
To be frank, I never had any issues with the Skoda service. My only gripe was the spare parts cost. Being imported parts, they cost a bomb. Also, the child parts weren’t available then. With 2.0, all this is set to change, or at least that’s what we are told. I will experience it first hand and decide whether ASS remains a pain or not. I hope to get a pleasant surprise. There’s a neat calculator on VW’s website to know the service cost. As previously mentioned, I am not sure how the extended warranty would be honoured when it comes to DSG failure. Although the ASS has improved vastly, I still have apprehensions about it.
The 5-year service package SVP Hi5 costs 59999. It covers all the essentials like lubricants, labour charges and so on and also includes a set of front brake discs, a set of front brake lining, 2 sets of wipers and a battery. That comes to around Rs. 12000 per annum which I think is a good value proposition. Surely, looks like VW is working on the service and spare parts costs.
The all-LED headlamps are great. The throw is excellent. The illumination is good. The fog lamps are halogen ones and I am not complaining. A big upgrade for me from my Rapid’s halogen projector lamps.
High On Safety
The car comes equipped with all the safety features that are expected at this price point. The likes of 6 airbags, ESC, hill hold control, multi-collision braking, reverse parking camera, three headrests at the rear, tire deflation warning and brake disc wiping make the car feel safe.
Evident Cost Cutting
No hood insulation. The buttons for interior lights are substandard. The roof is average. The boot mat cutout is an eyesore. No underbody protection is a big miss. No front parking sensors, seriously? No 360-degree camera. The reverse camera could have been better with adaptive guidelines.
Coming from a diesel engine which returned 20+ km/l on most highway drives, the 13-15 km/l fuel economy of the Virtus just feels inadequate. Add to that the rising fuel prices, and the long highway journeys would drain the pockets significantly higher than the available diesel/hybrid alternatives. The car has been returning 16 km/l on the highways with 100-120 km/h speeds and 9-12 km/l at city speeds. I have filled her up with XP95 fuel.
I will soon be doing a Goa trip with my beloved car! For the 600 km, I have driven the car, I am just in love with her. She puts a smile every time I floor her (again, I have been cautious due to the engine run-in process) and it soon becomes a habit. If one is out there looking for a complete package with fun-to-drive characteristics, I suggest you seriously consider the Virtus. And if driving pleasure is on top of your list, then boy look no further.
I couldn’t be happier with my new purchase. I’m eagerly looking forward to many more miles with my Virtus GT.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
Source: Read Full Article