This is the Volkswagen Ameo, the first car Volkswagen has ever made that’s been exclusively designed for the Indian market. Actually, if we really want to be accurate, this Polo-platformed little sedan was really designed for one particular Indian regulation.

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In India, there’s an odd little sweet spot for small sedans, cars bigger and better equipped than the tiny Tata Nano or the Maruti Suzuki hatchbacks, but still shorter, in length, than the small sedans sold almost everywhere else in the world.

The reason for this is that in India, cars under four meters long (just over 13 feet) are only hit with an excise tax of 10 percent, as opposed to 22 percent for cars over four meters.

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India once got another Polo-based sedan built in India, the Vento, but that one was 4.4 meters long, like Polo-based sedans everywhere else in the world. That’s why India gets the Ameo, which has a stubbier trunk to keep it under that magic four meter limit.

That same regulation also says that, to get this lower excise tax, cars must have petrol engines of 1.2-liters or less, or diesel engines of 1.5-liters or less. Guess what the available engines for the Ameo are?

If you guessed 1.2-liter gasoline (74 HP) and 1.5-liter diesel (89 HP), grab yourself a victory samosa out of this delicious-smelling imaginary pile here. Oh, and your samosa will taste better knowing that both cars come with a five-speed manual (seven-speed DSG extra).

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Aside from the truncated butt, the Ameo looks similar to its PQ25 platform brother, the Polo, but has unique body panels and bumper caps, with some crisper, more angular molding and detailing. Lights and grille are all keeping with the VW family look.

For a budget-priced car (in US dollars, it will probably start somewhere around $7,500-$8,000) it’s pretty well equipped, with a two-tone interior, MirrorLink (a system that runs apps on your phone, but displays them on the center stack LCD), airbags, cruise control, and A/C.

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The car will be made in Pune, India, and I believe this is the first diesel VW to be introduced since the whole Dieselgate mess, for whatever that’s worth.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.