The aggressively-priced Volkswagen Ameo lies in the compact sedan segment, which has been growing in popularity in India. What are we doing with it? Trying out the in-car system, of course. We spent some time with the car, drove it around the city, and while we’ll refrain from commenting on the things that auto reviewers should handle, we can detail the working of the in-car system.
The Volkswagen Ameo has Android MirrorLink installed, and the infotainment console in the center has a touchscreen panel to facilitate the same. However, where MirrorLink is supposed to mirror your phone’s display onto that screen, when connected via USB, we couldn’t get the system to work. We tried with multiple phones, too.
In theory, MirrorLink shows your phone’s screen on the car’s display. Hence, you can simply touch the display to open apps like Google Maps etc, without needing something like Android Auto. MirrorLink doesn’t support iOS yet.
The center console has buttons labelled Phone, Media, FM/AM and more. Pressing the Phone button takes you to the phone features of the console. Apart from MirrorLink, you can also connect your phone via Bluetooth, and the console can then read contacts, text messages and play media from the phone.
This is somewhat handicapped, though, in the sense that not all contacts showed up on the car’s system. The car seems to take considerable time to sync all contacts over Bluetooth, and while you can read text messages, you can’t reply to them.
Phone features also include voice support, which you can control from steering-mounted controls. There’s a major roadblock here, in the form of which phone you own. Pressing the voice button on the touchscreen or on the steering wheel calls your phone’s voice assistant, and if you have an iPhone, Siri does a really bad job of recognising your commands. Google Now, of course, is faster and easier, but is still somewhat handicapped based on which phone you’re using and how good it is at voice reception.
You can also download the Volkswagen Radio Remote control app from Volkswagen to play media, FM, and control other features of the in-car system.
When playing media, the car will by default pick up whatever you last played on your phone. In general, the car tends to start playing from your default music player when you sit down to drive. On Android phones, this can be solved by simply switching default players, but iPhone users who don’t use Apple’s Music app or service, will have to manually switch each time.
The Ameo can also play music through an auxiliary port, CD and FM/AM. All of these can also be controlled from the Radio Remote Control app, if you wish to do so.
The Volkswagen Ameo has four parking sensors at the back, and a parking assist camera. The camera is installed above the number plate mounted mid-height on the boot lid, so you get a pretty good look at what’s behind you when the car is in reverse gear. While the parking assist is useful enough, it’s not predictive. So, when you’re turning the steering wheel, the lines on the display will not curve to show how much you’ll be turning. You can control the brightness and colours on this screen, which can be a helpful addition at times.
The Volkswagen Ameo’s in-car system is feature-rich, but not what you would call high-tech. It allows for some insight into what more advanced in-car systems like Apple Carplay and Android Auto can achieve, but on its own, it achieves the bare minimum. Given the budget pricing of the car, it’s still worth appreciating, but we wish MirrorLink would have worked, and the system was a little more refined.
Videos by Sameer Mitha.