Features/ Special-features/ Can the mighty VW Virtus beat a nimble go-kart in its own game?

Can the mighty VW Virtus beat a nimble go-kart in its own game?

Volkswagen cars are on Indian roads, and one of their unique propositions is the Virtus, which has sedan DNA and an SUV character. Its massive ground clearance of 179 mm can wink at mid-sized SUVs and take a poke at them while flaunting its easy-flowing German design language. Virtus is actually draped and dressed in a designer suit, which has been stitched with comfort fabric with layers of excitement added to make it an exciting package. It is actually fresh mountain air in our sea of SUV-loving nation, for whom ground clearance is the primary weapon they want to use for their daily fight in life on our roads.

The Long Distance Drive

Virtus has always tickled me somewhere; German engineers could think of such a crucial insight into our Indian car taste buds while our homegrown brands could not give sedans a fresh lease of life against the growing rage for SUVs. But the lingering question is, is it really agile? Is it really fun? Can it feel comfortable over a long distance and be playful at the same time? So, the idea turned out to be crazy as it involved me driving from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in the Virtus to do an essential exercise on a track against a set of four wheels which is entirely devoid of Virtus’ premium interior, its comfortable seats, its ample legroom, massive ground clearance, its intuitive dashboard design, and of course its TSI engine.

While doing that exercise, it had to answer how does it play over a 500km, 6-8 hour drive stretch where portions of roads have been bulldozed as if there had been meteors dropped from heaven. Thanks to the expanding road infrastructure and beautiful highways coming up in the future to connect the Ahmedabad and Mumbai corridors. But effortlessly, Virtus glided through all the potholes. Its responsive steering and agile handling made manoeuvring through tight spaces just a breeze, providing a relatively stress-free driving experience in even the most crowded of cities. So, a comfortable driving experience over the long-distance coupled with robust fuel efficiency was checked. Now, the idea was to compete it with a go-kart with our very own Mira Erda at her go-kart track, which is 9 meters wide and 600 meters long with challenging turns that are sure to throw one tyre of the Virtus into the air.

Don’t rub your eyes, we were not totally out of our mind.

The Race & The Rules

This race was to test the agility, handling and cornering of the Virtus against the go-kart. First, we agreed upon the rules, with the Virtus first going and finishing the Lap time, which it did in 40 seconds, followed by Mira with her kart in her own track doing it in 37 seconds. Inspite of a lead time given to the Go-kart, Virtus beats it down in the final race by a margin. So it quenched all doubts of Mira where our conversation looked something like this… 

Me: Mira, first I will go with Virtus then you in the go-kart. Whoever wins will give the other that many seconds lead time for the final race, and of course, since it’s your home ground, I expect you to be quicker

To which Mira quipped: Quicker? The virtus is a 1499 cc with a TSI EVO engine producing 147BHP, with a top speed of 190 km/h, which has a turning radius of 5.05 meters and enough ground clearance to go over the dividers 

My answer to her satisfied her doubts: “Your go-kart is no less. It’s a 4-stroke, 200cc petrol engine. It doesn’t have gears. And it gets a top speed of 75kmph, which is enough for our race because of turns. It has a dry clutch transmission type and is much more nimble at the end. Regarding the turning radius, the kart is 1/3rd the Virtus length at 1500 meters. The most crucial point is that my Virtus weighs around 1275 kg, and this little rocket is 10% of it at 120 KG. That changes the equation and brings a level playing field with power to weight ratio. So, in the end, it comes down to the driver and asks about his connection with the machine. So shall we get going?

Mira agreed, and so did the entire audience and team. She appreciated how gorgeous the Virtus looked in red on the track, which was screaming to be unleashed to show its potential.

The race did happen, and she took me in one turn, and just before the last turn, which had a longer straight, the Virtus overtook and won the podium, proving to us and all that the Virtus is a very agile and sporty car with which you can go to work, party and play with. Mira wanted the best of three, which, of course, I denied and smiled big at all the photographers [only one from my team] with my imaginable medal.

You can also Watch the Race Between Volvo XC60 and Go Kart Here

Watch the VW Virtus take over the Go-Kart Here


TopGear Magazine June 2024