Hyundai Verna 1.6 CRDi SX
The Verna takes the fight to the doorsteps of the Japs and Germans
Back in 2006, Hyundai introduced the Verna to the Indian market for the first time. Internationally the Verna was a replacement for the ageing Accent. But here in India, the Accent was doing well enough on its own and stepped down the price ladder to make way for the Verna. The Verna had been doing decent numbers thanks to its potent diesel engine.
Come 2011, the new Verna is almost here and promises to give the segment leaders something to think about. Available with 1.4 and 1.6-litre powerplants in both petrol and diesel along with a manual and automatic transmission, the new Verna certainly offers a good range of options to the midsize buyer. Here’s a sneak preview.
At first glance, you are relieved to find there is no toothy Korean grille and unnecessary curves. The new Verna looks contemporary and sharp. The new design philosophy is certainly a lot more pleasing to the eye. The Verna is actually quite a good looking car, the bold face with coupe-like glass house along with the tastefully selected alloy wheels give the Verna a sporty stance. And there is power to match the show too.
We drove the top-of-the-line 1.6-litre CRDi manual transmission. The new 1582cc, 4-cylinder common rail diesel employs a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) and belts out a healthy 126bhp and 260Nm of torque. It’s quite refined for most parts, but it does tend to take a slightly coarse note as you near the redline.
The old Verna’s CRDi unit was a cracker once you hit 2000rpm and pinned you back in the seat once the turbo spooled up. But that also means it was a pain to drive in traffic. The new 1.6-litre unit has far better power delivery. Power is spread out better over the revrange. The shove of the old car is missing though.
But that said, the Verna is quite quick. We reckon the Verna 1.6 to be quicker than the VW Vento. Initial tests reveal a time of 11.07 seconds to 100kph. The gearbox with its short throws is easy to use and the ratios seemed tuned more for economy than outright performance.
The sixth cog is put to good use for highway cruising with the engine doing a lazy 1800rpm at 100kph. We couldn’t carry out fuel economy tests, but the ARAI figures peg it at 22.32kpl. We will wait till we can carry out our tests.
On the inside, the Verna offers a big and spacious cabin. But first things first, the interiors look far better and they seem to be well put together as well. While the old one looked plain-jane, the new facia looks modern and inviting. Plastic quality is also a couple of notches higher than the older car. And its not only quality that’s better, the new Verna is more spacious too with more legroom on offer all round. Even in the rear, there’s plenty of legroom and the rear passengers will not complain even with a six-footer in the front.
The seats themselves are comfortable, but the high window line in the rear robs the feeling of space a little. The Verna in SX trim comes loaded with goodies. Climate control, keyless ignition, reverse camera, leather upholstery, integrated music system with Bluetooth connectivity and steering mounted controls. Also commendable is the safety kit with six airbags, ABS and EBD. Wonder why they left out rear aircon vents.
Out on the road, the Verna does well enough. The light steering makes it easy to pilot around narrow roads and in traffic. Ride quality is also good at low to medium speeds. It soaks up bumps with minimum fuss at city speeds. It is firmer than the previous car, but comfortable nevertheless. As the speeds rise, you begin to feel the suspension could have been stiffer still.
The rear especially when loaded, bottoms out and bobs on large undulations. As a result of the relatively soft setup, you can’t throw the Verna into corners. It feels nervous and nose heavy around bends. A slightly stiffer setup would have done the Verna a world of good especially if you consider the speeds this car is capable of. A little more feedback from the steering would also have been nice.
It is definitely a better handler than the outgoing car, but it still has scope for improvement. But this shouldn’t be a problem unless you are a spirited driver.
Overall, the new Verna certainly ticks all the right boxes. It may not be an enthusiast’s delight, but it will do most things without a bother. It’s got a powerful engine, spacious and comfortable interiors and comes loaded to the gills with equipment. Although prices are yet to be announced, we expect the Verna to be another value for money proposition and would surely give other midsizers a run for their money.
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