What’s in a name? Cars are usually named to describe its significance in the brand’s lineup. Just look at the Honda Accord midsize executive sedan. The word accord means ‘an official agreement,’ which fits the car since it’s pegged to be a vehicle for the bosses.
The 2019 Volkswagen Lamando, when roughly translated, may mean a command, leadership, or rule, from the root word Mando. Is it aptly named so? Volkswagen Philippines lent its range-topping Highline variant for me to find out.
I remember my first encounter with the 2019 Lamando last year. It was the crown of the Volkswagen dealership I visited and arguably the best-looking local VW sedan at this time, even with a rather boring white paint job. But the media tester came in a striking red color scheme, and I must admit, it’s even more appealing than before and complements the sporty aura of the car. It’s like the small version of the Arteon – VW’s global flagship sedan – save for the astronomical grille, which is a good thing.
Color preference aside, the Lamando comes with a lot of toys on the outside. It has a host of LEDs plus its 17-inch alloys look a bit bigger than what they really are. The effect of the black sunroof up front looks good in my opinion, but I somehow wish that it continues down at the back for a more streamlined design. Another qualm – the fake exhaust chrome outlines leave something to be desired with.
Size-wise, the Lamando slots in between compact and midsize sedans. However, with the features it carries, Volkswagen Philippines markets it as the latter.
Opening the Lamando’s doors, you’ll instantly notice the remarkable design execution to complement the straightforward and no-nonsense layout. Controls are clustered together nicely while the materials used aren’t exactly plush but they don’t look cheap either. Soft-touch plastics would touch your knees but synthetic leather trim lines the top of the dashboard. The leather that wraps the steering wheel and the seats feels nice to the touch.
Now, for the gripes. I initially loved the low seating position of the Lamando. However, the dashboard is a bit tall which hampers the forward driving visibility if you were to sit low in the cabin, so I resolved to position myself higher than what I would have preferred. The sports seats are too bolstered, too. I have a medium body size and it was challenging for me to find a comfortable seating position because of the shoulder bolstering. In addition, VW extensively used piano black plastics in the cabin, which we all know doesn’t age well and are prone to scratches and fingerprint marks.
As with space, the Lamando has plenty of it whether you’re the driver, front passenger, or rear occupants. Three people would fit snugly at the back so long as the tallest one stands below 5’10” and with a medium build. For two people, it’s a party with working A/C vents, plus the cupholders at the foldable center armrest have adjustable sizes. Trunk, on the other hand, is quite spacious as expected – two months worth of groceries and a standard-sized child stroller could fit without any issues.
Probably the best trait of the Lamando is its exceptional ride quality. It leans towards the soft and comfortable suspension setup, able to absorb road imperfections without transferring the impact to its passengers. The NVH insulation’s superb at all times, too.
The Lamando is filled with tech features that provide convenience to the driver. Headlights are automatic with manual leveler and so are the rain-sensing wipers, climate control, brake hold, door locks, side mirror folding, and up/down windows on all fours. The midsize sedan also has sensors installed on all corners, giving you a full sense of the car's proximity, displayed on the clear 9.2-inch infotainment display. Lastly, adaptive cruise control comes standard with the Highline variant and it’s usable within city traffic, thanks to its low speed follow function – much like Subaru’s EyeSight.
Speaking of the infotainment, the Lamando inherits Volkswagen’s global design that has a minimalist design and easy to figure out. It also has gesture control, which allows you to navigate through the head unit with a wave of your hand but it’s kind of pointless since you still have to touch the screen in order to get to the menu you’re aiming at. Good thing, you can use this gesture control in scanning through radio stations or through your music, as long as you’re doing it outside Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The sound from the speakers is on the average and could cater to most genres.
And oh, the Lamando also has an auto start/stop feature, but it rarely engages in this hot climate.
In its top-level trim, the Lamando comes with several safety features to keep the occupants from harm. There are seven airbags inside the car plus other standard features such as ABS with EBD, stability control, ISOFIX child seat tethers, seatbelt reminder for the driver and front passenger, tire pressure monitor, and proximity sensors.
In combination with the convenient tech features above, the Lamando is among the safest in its class.
Driving & Handling
Inside the 2019 Lamando’s bonnet resides a 1.4-Liter turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 150 metric horses and 250 Nm of torque. I know what you’re thinking – a midsize sedan with a small engine? That was initial reaction, but after driving the car, it proved that the small displacement wasn’t an issue – at least during high-speed runs.
In bumper-to-bumper situations, the 7-speed DSG transmission, Volkswagen’s namesake for dual-clutch transmission, seems hesitant to move from a standstill. That, and the lack of the turbo’s help at lower RPMs, makes for a challenging drive through city traffic.
At faster paces, however, the Lamando rose like a different animal. It’s spritely, quick to respond with accelerator inputs, and composed. Manual gear shifting through the lever has minimal lag; it’s a shame the car didn’t come with paddle shifters.
The Lamando’s electronic power-assisted steering was dynamic: light in slow maneuvers, tight in high-speed runs. Surprisingly, it has the cornering ability of a sporty sedan – almost flat at corners with very negligible body roll. It’s almost as if it has an adaptive suspension, but it doesn’t. It would have been all aces for this car’s handling if not for the tall dashboard that hampered its forward driving visibility.
With the car’s behavior on the road, the Lamando registered impressive fuel efficiency numbers at high speeds but a bit dismal within the confines of the city. Traffic crawls clocked in 7.4 km/L while faster paces at around 60 km/h read back 12.8 km/L. Highway drives with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h gave back a notable 21.7 km/L.
The 2019 Volkswagen Lamando – command, lead, or rule. With all the things I mentioned in this review considered, VW has made the right decision to name its car so. It’s right at the top of the company’s lineup of sedans in terms of standard features, looks, and driving dynamics – the leader, if I may add.
Yes, it has its faults that can be improved but at P1,703,000, you pretty much get more than what you’re paying for, considering the other midsize sedans that come with a higher price tag.