The all-new Verna, like its predecessor, is the only diesel automatic saloon in its segment. It's easy to drive, booted and won't blow a hole in your pocket. It's also the cheapest diesel automatic on sale today. So, what exactly do you get for the moolah that Hyundai charges for it?
Same engine as before
It has the same old school, four-speed automatic present in the previous model, but its internals are strengthened considerably to take on the extra twisting force. The Verna's 1,582cc common-rail turbo-diesel engine can relinquish some of its 126bhp and 26.50kgm of torque to the power-sapping torque converter without turning into a sloth. With only four speeds to play with, gear ratios are tall and widely spaced. So, the Verna doesn't feel all that quick and instead accelerates in an extremely linear and relaxed manner. The automatic gearbox eliminates some of the turbo-lag present in the manual version - it upshifts early and the shifts are smooth and linear. With light controls, this makes for a car that is stress-free in traffic.
On the highway, the Verna cruises nicely. There's adequate power for overtaking but the gearbox prefers to call upon the engine's torque reserves rather than kickdown. This means you have to plan a bit when overtaking, especially on two-lane roads, and there is a fair bit of lag from the gearbox too. With the throttle buried, it goes from 0-60kph in 5.20 seconds, which is only 0.7s slower than the manual version, and 100kph takes just 11.19s, as compared to the 10.54s taken by the manual. It takes 9.20s for 40-100kph, which is actually much faster than its main rival, the petrol-powered Honda City auto.
The manual and automatic share the soft suspension, which helps keep minor irregularities out at low speeds. At high speeds, the car bobs around on large dips and driving on an uneven road can be unsettling. Still, the pedal feel is decent and the brakes bite well but tend to fade after hard use. Further, fuel consumption takes a hit. The Verna manages 11.5kpl and 15.3kpl in the city and highway respectively. While in the city, the Verna is more than 2kpl off the manual, it redeems itself on the highway due to the tall fourth gear.