Allow me to start this article by asking you a question. How many good mid-size sedans do we see on our roads? Maruti Ciaz, Honda City, Skoda Slavia, Hyundai Verna and a couple of old gen beauties. Were you counting? You couldn’t even fill the fingers on one of your hands! Now, allow me to ask another question. How many good mid-size SUVs are available on sale in India? Heck, even Hritik Roshan would run out of fingers to count the number of SUVs around us. SUVs are popular because they offer practicality and a sense of something significant, but without a doubt, you would agree that sedans are beautiful. Under the India 2.0 strategy, Volkswagen and Skoda built four cars, and the Virtus is the last of its batch.
Skoda Slavia garnered the most sales number in its family of vehicles, and now it’s Volkswagen’s turn with the Virtus. After all, more sedans make our roads look better!
Exterior – “Her silhouette never has regrets.”
The Virtus is undoubtedly a beautiful long sedan, and no matter what angle you choose to stare at this beauty on wheels, the Virtus looks stunning. All LED head and tail lamps and overall a modern Polo inspired fascia do make the Virtus look Volkswagen familiarly.
The GT version has some added visual cues like red-painted brake callipers, a boot lip spoiler, dual-tone finishes and GT badges all around. Thanks to the length, the stance seems voguish despite the added ground clearance. Only the front wheels get disc brakes, but the overall brake feedback and bite are above average in its segment. We would have loved all four discs, but all cars on the MQB A0-IN platform (Taigun, Kushaq and Slavia) have a similar configuration, and they all perform exceptionally well in the mid-size SUV and now the mid-size sedan segment.
A clever trick is the ORVM turn indicators have see-through panels for in-car passengers to notice. The long stance, subtle chrome elements, sharp cut lines flowing across the length of this car, a fascia like the international Polo GT and dual-tone alloys make the Virtus an attention magnet on roads. Volkswagen promises to bring this car in six colours, reserving some colours only for the top variant owners.
Interior – Shared platforms, different designs
Offered in Dynamic and Premium trims, interiors of the Virtus come in two flavours – GT and non-GT variants. GT versions come with body-coloured dash panels, darker shades of seats, red stitching and red ambient lighting.
Every other variant of the Virtus gets a matte silver dash with multi-tone fibre inserts and white ambient light. What’s surprising is that Virtus is loaded with 6 airbags, 8 speakers, all-LED lights and a bundle of over 40 safety features as standard. The driver and front co-passenger have manual seat adjustments, but top variants get two-step ventilated seats. Seats are plush, accommodating and comfy like most other sedans in this segment. There’s a rear camera with park assist, too, but the footage’s quality is meh.
Creature comfort on the top variants includes all digital consoles with red or blue animations based on your chosen version. The centre console is an extensive 10-inch infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s a hazard light button on the dashboard, wireless charger, 12V socket, Type-C USB ports, electric sunroof, auto climate control, cruise control and manual dimming rearview mirror with ample storage spaces in the centre console and door pockets.
All passengers get adjustable headrests, while rear passengers get two additional AC and Type C ports and an armrest with cupholders. At 4561mm, this car is the longest in its segment, but its interior space is nothing extraordinary compared to rivals. It is precisely as much as the Slavia. The boot space, too, is similar at 521L. The overall dash and vents layout is designed horizontal with reminiscence of the exterior sharp cuts and lines designed neatly for the cabin. It’s clean and should satisfy every age and group’s taste in a sedan.
Drive – Virtus, the art of stability
We drove the Virtus for almost 300 kilometres from Amritsar to Faridkot and back. On a 43-degree summer day, we stretched the Virtus, and all of Volkswagen’s claims from the presentation, held a night before our drive. From pure numbers alone, this car is one of the fastest sedans in this segment, maybe faster than the newly launched Honda City Hybrid.
Offered in Dynamic, Premium and GT trims, the Virtus comes loaded with a 3-cylinder (113 Bhp and 175 Nm) 1.0L TSi engine mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission (DCT). The GT variant gets Volkswagen’s intelligent (148 Bhp and 250 Nm) 4-cylinder 1.5L TSi engine with ACT (Active Cylinder Management) to run on two cylinders when the engine is not under load. Couple that technology with a sleek, improved 7-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox and the Virtus GT is in a league of its own. We drove both automatic variants of this car.
Thanks to the dashboard height, the seating position is strange but not uneasy; it forces you to move a little higher. When the seating position is just right, the view is commanding like any mid-size SUV. Drive this car over deep potholes, road undulations, and large speed-breakers, and it takes them like any mid-size SUV! All thanks to the 179mm ground clearance, exact as the Slavia. These manufacturers thus challenge the notion of a sedan. Throttle the Virtus GT or the other variants, and the car becomes a stable, fast sedan. Thanks to the engineers at Volkswagen and the versatile MQB-A0 IN platform, this car should be able to do it all whilst looking pretty.
We accelerated the Virtus on long highway stretches at unspeakable speeds, and the car was pleasantly planted and confident throughout our journey. Steering inputs are spot on and oh so Volkswagen. After some old legacies, the Virtus GT is finally a good driver’s car on Indian roads. The car loves to rev to its redline and sounds sweet, reaching and ripping triple digits on the speedometer.
This car’s non-GT and GT variants are stable throughout speed numbers and corners. The steering feel is light enough for all ages, gender and body types to manoeuvre in cities and out on highways. The steering feedback weighs up as speeds are built up, and it weighs a tad bit more in sport mode.
Driving in normal D mode, both variants of this car tend to choose higher gears, maybe for better fuel efficiency at any given speed. Sport mode S allows you to stretch each gear till the engine’s redline, but the most engaging mode has to be paddle shift driven M manual mode allowing you to stick to a gear a little above its redline limiter.
The 3-cylinder engine drives smooth and composed, while the 4-cylinder GT version goes enthusiastically, still managing to be composed and comfortable inside. There’s excellent body control on bad roads, sharp turns and high speeds. Brakes inspire confidence to stop at your will, but somehow our GT car displayed better brakes than the other car, maybe car-specific but something worth noting.
Overall, the Virtus is a well-mannered, sassy-looking sedan with abilities like a mid-size SUV. This car is a beautiful amalgamation of driving dynamics of two segments, the SUV and a sedan. If you are looking for a good-looking car that checks all the right boxes, take a test drive of the Volkswagen Virtus, it might surprise you as it surprised us.