Honda City vs Volkswagen Vento
This is just what we all were waiting for. A duel to ignite passions in ice cold Honda who has for years ruled the roost with the City. Many have tried to match it and they still keep on trying but no one to date seemed to have had the complete package to even get within striking distance of what everyone generally reckons to be the coolest car out there. And one has to see this in terms of not just product but also a burgeoning economy which has upped living standards in the land where it is more often than not the best rather than a lesser priced econo-value-engineered product which curries favour with the punters. And it is this aspirational class which India is blessed with, that is making all the running for the best that life can offer.
Enter Volkswagen and the Vento, quite simply the most serious and also the most determined, from the looks of it, OEM ever to storm the Indian car market in recent times. What should have happened some three decades ago, if you factor in its choice as suitor for Maruti Udyog in the early 1980s, is finally here and rolling on its own steam. In terms of making the right moves to building brand presence and awareness, Volkswagen has left no stone unturned and climbed mountains, buildings certainly, to make many Indians know that it is not just the maker of the much loved Beetle but also one of the largest and most powerful car manufacturing companies in the world. And that it is not shy in stating the obvious.
There is a saying that the meek shall inherit the earth and while I don't know whether that stands to beckon Honda I sure do know that in all the winds that were blowing it preferred to maintain station in a silent stoic manner. Having been at the receiving end for dealing a wrong hand to its fortunes in the country by pricing its superlative Jazz in the hatchback stratosphere, Honda decided to err on the side of caution and just kept on taking ever greater care of its brand strengths and terrific products. However, the writing was on the wall and that was the City had a strong challenge heading its way. As things have panned out Volkswagen's Vento is the most serious challenger ever to face up to the Honda City and as we shall see while driving both cars through this test report, also a very effective piece of kit.
And just as it is the wont of the competitors to hear the magic words "let the games begin" or in automobile racing tradition, at least in the Indianapolis 500 (where Honda is currently the dominant prime mover) this is what gets everyone going: "Gentlemen start your engines!"