Honda City vs Volkswagen Vento
Round I: Showing off the style!
Many years ago when the second generation City appeared in view we all did a double take and said "whoa, what's happening here?" It wasn't too difficult to fathom that the sleek low slung lines of the original City with that killer thrust had been dispensed with in favour or a more mundane please-all-feel-good look that would bring more people into the Honda fold. Time did heal and in turn Honda made the City sharper, sleeker and more appealing. The profile was improved, the creases on the sides brought in added character and appeal and the front end got a clear and focused identity. God, they say, abounds in the details and if one cares to see closely one can find many smile inducing cues all around the City. I particularly love the front grille, the arrow-shot side profile replete with the rake of the windscreen and most important, the way the C-pillar treatment has hidden the large boot into something very akin to a notchback. Albeit a very slick one! The rear end is also stylish in a, dare we say it, understated Volkswagen way and when you mix all these into the style blender the City's overall proportions seem superbly in sync.
From the mystical Orient to the techno-trick Teuton and what comes across is the machined look which is oh so European and rather tasty at that. I am rather confused when someone says stretched Polo, booted Polo and stuff like because that isn't the way the Vento has been configured. Volkswagen wrote the book on platform sharing and on this count there is no debate because the Vento indeed begins life with a lengthened version of the Polo's floorpan. From there on it is different, has been engineered completely differently and unless you get down to really understanding the makeup and the production processes involved you do end up with the stretched Polo statement.
Overall I think the Polo is the quintessential European automobile, rather than just being Germanic about it. There is quite a bit of Italiano in there in the way the rakish windscreen, the taut swept back lines of the headlamp and that sexy sweep of the C-pillar match up with the overtly milled surfaces to present a good harmony. Visually the Vento looks longer and lower than the City and this is a good thing because many Indians do still value mass-for-the-price when looking out for a new car. One can see the hand of Walter de'Silva, the legendary ex-Alfa Romeo designer and now design chief of the VW Group, in the overall lines of the Vento and for sure I like everything on it.
Barring, of course, the rear end treatment which is devoid of any excitement! The front end, stylishly simple yet ethereal to behold is in another league altogether but at the rear the Vento could have had, well a bit more taste. The Vento carries that typically Germanic sheen all around it, even more pronounced than the present generation Jetta we have here in India and that does say much about evolving VW design. Wonder what will happen when the new gen Jetta gets here?
Both cars sit well and have a great stance and at the end of the first round of sashaying on the catwalk we don't see too many punches being pulled. Yet it is the Honda which traipses itself into a narrow opening lead.
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