Checking out the VW Virtus at a dealership: Detailed observations

For me, the Skoda Slavia had the best design in the mid-size sedan segment. But not anymore.

BHPian Tony2298 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

If fellow BHPians remember, a couple of months ago when the Škoda Slavia came to the showroom floors, I just couldn’t hold any patience and went to my nearest Škoda showroom to check the Slavia out and recorded and posted my first impressions. So naturally, I couldn’t hold my horses when I got the news that Virtus had finally arrived on the showroom floors. The showroom was pretty much deserted which was a boon for me since it allowed me to take my time and closely observe the different aspects of the car, and before you ask, no, I wasn’t able to do a TD. So here goes my observation:

  • The car looks really nice in person and you just cannot predict the way it will look in the real life by just seeing it via digital media I request everybody, whether interested in buying the Virtus or not, to at least pay a visit and have at least a look at this car. Until now, I believed that the Škoda Slavia was the best designed mid-size sedan in the segment, but now there is no competition, the Virtus is the best-designed car in its segment. Somehow Volkswagen have managed to strike the right balance between elegance, sexiness and timeless design. VW often gets bashed for making boring-designed (although timeless) cars and well, here they have given their answer! Although as much as I love the design, my only grouse is the fact that Volkswagen, in a bid to make the car in the GT line sporty, have given full gloss black painted alloys which, considering the extremely tough and dusty environment of our country, would be a pain to maintain.
  • On a related note, Volkswagen have given GoodYear tyres in the Virtus which although not very good, are still better than its sibling which comes with rubbish CEAT tyres but still, I believe both VW and Škoda, at least in the 1.5L variants, should provide better/sportier Yokohama/Michelin rubber as these cars with their ballistic engines definitely need some serious grip while dropping the anchor from silly speeds. Also, Virtus, like other VAG 2.0 cars, doesn’t get rear disc brakes but the front discs on the GT version, like the Taigun, get red callipers. Also, like the rest of the VAG cars, there is full wheel-arch cladding on all the wheels, no cost-cutting there, good job VW.
  • The boot space is similar to the Slavia and is actually quite spacious and Virtus can easily do those airport runs when you need to drop your mother-in-law back. Although, on a related note, the plastic panel of the boot in the area surrounding the boot latch was flimsily attached which made it look very out of place. Even my dad’s 2010 WagonR has better plastic around that area. I don’t know if it was a specific issue in that car but better if Volkswagen rectify it before delivering the cars to customers since it’s simply unacceptable in a 20L INR Volkswagen premium sedan. Also, like the Slavia, the boot is having partial cladding only and the boot ceiling is actually unconcealed and not even properly painted. The covering material of the boot was not properly cut and felt like someone cut it with a pair of blades manually at the last minute.
  • The doors, like the rest of the cars from VAG, were really hefty and had that proper German thud, also the insulation and rubber beadings were all present in a generous amount, no cost-cutting there. Also, the doors from inside had a very nice soft leather pad for the elbow rest and the door handles too felt robust, absolutely no complaints there.
  • The interiors are a step up from the Taigun for sure and more in line with the Slavia I experienced a few months ago. The dashboard plastic, though hard, felt nice to touch and feel and the quality of grains too was nicer. I hope it ages nicely without getting brittle considering the harsh tropical sun in our country. The red touches in real life don’t look that much gaudy as they did in the pictures and actually help in breaking the usual black and beige monotony.
  • The steering wheel is, IMHO, the best part of the interior in this car along with the Taigun and much better looking than Škoda’s new 2spoke design and a nice departure from the same old VW steering which was seen right from Polo to Passat! The steering had a nice and perforated leather wrap which made it grippy to hold and the switches mounted on it felt tactile, though I have a small suggestion for not only Volkswagen but for other OEMs too. in foreign countries, I’ve seen OEMs offer heated steering wheel as the drivers’ hand there becomes too cold and the car tries to comfort him. In India, considering the harsh heat, especially when the car becomes like an oven when parked under the direct sunlight, can we get cooled steerings, which compounded with the ventilated seats and a chiller air-con would make our lives oh so more bearable during the harsh and humid summers.
  • On the subject of seats, the front two seats in the Virtus GT now come with Ventilation which I think is implemented by VW after the feedback they received since the Taigun GT+ was devoid of this useful convenience feature. Also, the leather felt nice and supple and the compound was also excellent, although a tad bit softer than I would have liked but still very comfortable indeed.
  • What was rather a cause of concern for me was the fact the centre console which is finished in gloss black was creaking! Although not as bad as the one in Creta, it was very, very shocking indeed. Also, that gloss black panel on the centre console and dashboard, though looks nice, would be a pain to maintain in our dusty environment and in no time would be full of scratches and swirls no matter how much you try keeping it clean with microfibers.
  • The rear seats too were comfortable and spacious. Though I must say that they are not all that roomy as the exterior dimensions and looks suggest, and just like the Slavia, the space was good but not class-leading, and somehow I found the head-room to be on the lower side. Also, the bench is best for two only, the third passengers’ seat base is raised and the seatback itself was quite hard and not comfortable for long drives, although that portion does carry an armrest with twin cupholders. A point which I noted there and found a bit weird was that in the armrest, just near the cupholders, the leather cover was not tucked in properly and was protruding a little bit. It is hard to describe but try to imagine when your shirt isn’t tucked in properly into your trousers and when it juts out, it looks a bit odd. It is the same case here, a small thing but felt like sharing.

Overall, I would say that I’m much happier with what Volkswagen have done with the Virtus and have incorporated much of the feedback from the Taigun and improved on those fronts with this car. And it feels more like a full-fledged attempt by them than, say the Taigun which, TBH at least in the initial batches, felt like a half-hearted attempt. Though there is a lot more way to go and a full 5-6 years of ownership experience would properly analyse if these newer lot of cars age gracefully like their illustrious predecessors due to which VAG cars in India got the title of affordable luxury. Now some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

The front end looks mean and sporty but at the same time graceful and elegant.

The side profile is particularly sporty but at the same time is very elegant and as VW says, has a Limousine vibe to it.

The rear, again, keeping in line with the rest of the design philosophy, is sporty as well as elegant. Also, IMHO the new VW roundel suits the best in this car

The boot ceiling, like the Škoda Slavia, was left unconcealed and even though there were no dangling wires, it felt a bit odd and could have been covered.

The alloy wheels are nicely designed but I don’t know how practical these jet black alloys would be in our dusty environment. Also, this particular car was shod with GoodYear tyres though I would have liked if VW gave some nice Michelin/Pirelli rubber keeping in line with the sporty performance, especially in 1.5L variants

The Virtus does get full wheel arch claddings on all 4 wheels which is highly appreciated at a time when some SUVs costing upwards of 50L simply don’t have any.

The interiors are nicely designed and the quality levels too are definitely a step up from the Taigun and more in line with the Slavia. The red inserts don’t look gaudy and actually lend a sporty and youthful vibe to the cabin.

The plastic used on top of the dashboard, though not soft-touch, felt nice to hold and the grains were definitely of better quality than the Taigun. I hope it doesn’t become brittle and start to crack after a few years of exposure under the harsh sun.

The doors too like other VAGs felt really hefty and had that proper, reassuring German thud, also proper rubber beadings and insulation materials were used, the hinges too were thick and properly painted, no cost-cutting there, good job VW.

The driver’s seat was comfortable and accommodating, although a tad bit softer than my preference, but still, nothing to complain about, also VW seems to have taken feedback and equipped the Virtus GT with ventilated seats unlike Taigun GT+ which didn’t offer this feature.

The steering wheel was by far my favourite part of the interior, it has a lovely perforated leather wrap, which makes it grippy and amazing to hold, the switches felt tactile and the new design is so much fresher than the decade-old design we are used to seeing from Volkswagen, also like all other VAGs it has tilt and telescopic adjustment. The horn though is meek sounding and a far cry from the sweet-sounding wind tone found in the Tiguan.

The centre console is finished in gloss black which would definitely be a pain to maintain in our conditions, also it was creaking on applying some force though not as bad as Creta but hopefully, VW solves it before it begins actual customer deliveries. The DSG lever though is smart looking I would have loved to see a good old 6MT here along with that ballistic 1.5TSi.

The roof liner is updated and at par with the Slavia but still, there was a fair bit of flex when I applied some force.

The GT variant has Sport Aluminium pedals which looked very sporty, also the carpeting is black which is practical for our grimy environment, especially during monsoons.

The rear seats were spacious too but not the best in class and I personally felt it was a tad bit lower on headroom, also the bench is contoured and best for two adults only for long journeys.

The leather padding on the armrest wasn’t properly tucked in and looked a bit odd and aftermarket-ish, hopefully VW fixes it soon.

A parting shot

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