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Big leap, giant strides

New Verna is a huge step up from current model in terms of comfort.

autos Updated: May 11, 2011 14:09 IST
Ouseph Chacko

It is always in the details. In the new Verna’s case, the details show you how serious its Korean manufacturer is. Some bits like the boot lining, the rubber mat inside the rear centre armrest and the textures inside the cabin mimic stringent quality checks à la Volkswagen. Inside the bonnet, Hyundai offers you two diesel engines – 88 bhp and 126 bhp – and two petrol motors – 105 bhp and 121 bhp – pretty much covering everything from the current Ford Fiesta to the City and the Vento. And just as a footnote, Hyundai offers the bigger 1.6L petrol and diesel with an auto gearbox.

Really good interiors
Slide into the comfy front seats and you’ll be impressed by how big a step interior quality has taken. This car has none of the old Verna’s garish and misplaced wood finish. We like the dimpled surface on the dashboard, the dark wood surround for the centre console and the overall design of the dash. The steering is nice to hold, the cubbyholes are big enough and the switches work with convincing quality. At the rear, you’ll find plenty of legroom but the seats are low and, as a result, thigh support is not as good as say in a City.

As with all manual Hyundais, you have to depress the clutch before you thumb the start button. The diesel starts and settles into a smooth idle. Let out the relatively light clutch, and you’ll find the car has enough torque to commute without much complaint. Sure, there is turbo-lag but you’ll notice this only when you are in a hurry. Let the engine revs build to 1900rpm though, and you’ll find a satisfying shove as the turbo comes on and 26.5kgm of torque (one kgm more than the Vento) makes its way to the front wheels.

Diesel comes with 6-speed manual gearbox
The diesel Verna comes with a slick-shifting six-speed manual, which gives it really long legs on the highway. 0-100kph comes up in 11.1 seconds.

The 1.6-litre petrol motor acquits itself well too. It is smooth and quiet enough when doodling around town and you’ll find no cause for complaint. Extend the motor and you’ll find it performs best between 4000 and 6000rpm, while making suitably sporty noises. The petrol Verna, unlike the diesel, comes with a five-speed manual which is quite fun to use. Its light action won’t make you complain about rowing through the gears on a twisty road.

You won’t like the rather detached driving experience though. In the interest of comfort, Hyundai has continued with a softly sprung rear end. This means it doesn’t feel as settled on undulating roads.

Average ride quality
Add to this an overly light steering and you have a car that’s at best mediocre on the fun-to-drive scale. The flipside, as always, is a car that is easy to manoeuvre and park. As expected, the petrol

Verna is a tad keener to turn in than the nose-heavy diesel. And thankfully, the Verna, especially this top-end version, comes with a set of Bridgestone tyres that are more than up to the job. The ride is refined and there’s no clunkiness over bad roads and the new Verna does a good job of isolating you from the road as well.

Hyundai Verna 1.6P / 1.6D
Price: Rs 7-9 lakh (est ex-showroom Delhi)
L/W/H: 4370/1700/1475mm
Track (front/rear): 1495/1502mm
Kerb weight: 1071-1191kg
Engine: 4 cyl in-line, 1591cc, petrol 4 cyl in-line, 1582cc, diesel Installation Front, transverse
Power: 121.3bhp at 6300rpm/126.3bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 15.8kgm at 4200rpm/26.5kgm at 1900-2750rpm
Compression ratio: 10.5:1/ 17.3:1
Gearbox: Five-speed manual/ six-speed manual
Fuel tank: 43 litres
Turning circle: 10.4m
Brakes: Ventilated discs

Prices haven’t been announced as yet, but these top-end variants should ideally be priced dearer than the older Verna and along the lines of Vento and City, spec for spec. Still, the new Verna is a big step forward for the Korean car major and the changes aren’t easy to miss.