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From the race-spec turbo diesel Polo to the current race-spec Ameo, Volkswagen Motorsport have put in quality wrench time and R&D into providing new racers the best race car.
Interestingly, after five years of running the Polo chassis, Volkswagen Motorsport India decided to get their hands dirty. Gone was the Polo, making way for a longer platform, prepared in-house at the Pune VMI Plant, for what was now the Vento Cup. While the powertrain was pulled straight out of the Polo R, the major change was the unique roll cage, now welded to the chassis. Those with an eye for detail would realise the cage ran all the way from the front strut mounts to the rear tower mounts, making the platform even more rigid. The stock dampers were swapped, upgraded to KW Dampers on both ends. The dampers were now two-way adjustable for rebound and compression as opposed to the Sachs units in the ‘R’.
In terms of power, the Vento made the same as the Polo R, with the same grunt, all 180 horses again transmitted to the front wheels via a six-speed sequential DSG and a limited-slip differential. It was almost surprising that the whole Vento, despite having the same drivetrain as the Polo, was 63kg lighter. The added advantage was the longer wheelbase, phenomenal suspension and MRF Racing slicks, that made the whole package more stable and faster around corners. To put things in perspective, the C1 is a tricky fast corner that demands immense confidence to take it flat out, something the Vento, manages with elan. Of course when the racers take this corner it would surely wiggle on its limit, but nothing too dire. What I realised after getting out the Vento was the extent of progress that the racecars made for them to be faster, safer and a cut above their predecessors. But the best was yet to come, in the form of a new platform and powertrain.
2017 marked the dawn of a new opportunity for Volkswagen Motorsport India, as they moved from the Vento to the new Ameo platform. This was also the first time the whole race car was made in India for the budding racers, and as per Sirish Vissa, the Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India, it was “light years ahead of the rest of our race cars”. Almost nothing from the previous racers was carried over.
The chassis was race-prepped in-house, along with the wiring harnesses. The powerhouse was from a Polo GTI, a 1.8-litre TSI, a whole 50bhp and 70Nm more than the Vento’s 1.4-litre. All 320Nm transmitted to the limited-slip differential from a proper sequential racing box by 3MO performance, with steering mounted XAP paddles instead of a DSG. The ECU and data logger are made by MoTec Systems and were independently calibrated for the new powertrain. According to the boffins who made this, it is a massive five seconds quicker than the Vento on full chat at the MMRT. Well I was in no mood to shatter a lap time that day, but let's just feel the car, shall we?
The procedure to get in and strap yourself into the OMP seats is the same and so is the start-up. Press the blue button first, tap the Ignition that goes green telling you to hold the Start button, waking up the four-pot screamer. First gear comes in with a thud and the rest of them are a breeze to shift to, while also adding the aural pleasures of straight-cut gears. The Ameo's handling is a stunning blend of the Polo’s edginess and the Vento’s all-round stability, though it does understeer when on the absolute limit, until the LSD brings you back in the game. The whole car seemed to be several generations ahead of even the Vento TSI, a testament to the efforts made in the pursuit of race car engineering.
Evolution of the Volkswagen Cup cars - The race Polos!