A shootout without the bang-bang
Mahindra’s Verito and Ford’s Classic are solid cars, but unlikely to set imagination on fire. Sumant Banerji reports.autos Updated: Sep 06, 2012 23:38 IST
It is a second coming of sorts for the two cars — Mahindra Verito and the old Fiesta — that were brushed up and given a refresh at almost the same time last month. The Verito, the erstwhile Mahindra Renault Logan, has been a non-starter from Day 1 despite its highly publicised entry as a wide bodied car. It has stuck out like a sore thumb in Mahindra’s portfolio, not only as the utility vehicle maker’s only car but also as its only unqualified failure.
The Fiesta’s career graph mirrored that of its original brand ambassador, Abhishek Bachhan. It created some ripples, had a lot going for it but never quite hit the big league. Now rechristened as a simple Classic, it seems to be Ford’s attempt to squeeze the last drop of juice from a dated though capable car.These are not ‘new’ cars so the benchmarks in the entry-level sedan segment stay where they are. Both are available in diesel, and in times when the segment leader Maruti Dzire is burdened with a burgeoning waiting period, should you at least try out these old wines in new bottles?
Dated or fresh?
Let’s get this out of the way first. Precious little has changed in the Classic over the old Fiesta in terms of looks. When it first came out, the Fiesta had Maruti Esteem and Hyundai Accent for company, and stood out as ahead of its times. Today, even though the segment does not have outright goodlookers, the Classic does not look a cutting-edge product. It has got new alloy wheels and fog lamps, but precious little beyond that.
The Verito, on the other hand, has more changes — 23, to be exact — but none that would make heads turn. It was a boxy as Logan, and remains so, though Mahindra has tried to do something about it. There is a dash of chrome here and there, a new grille, and pronounced head lamps. Overall, the Classic has aged well and remains a better looker than Verito.
The other area where the Verito scores is space. It has a bigger boot, better seats and more leg room at the back. And the air-conditioning has improved too. The Classic gets two-tone interiors and a new music system, and is better-equipped overall with tilt-steering and bluetooth connectivity. Neither car has steering mounted audio controls or a chilled glove box. Parking sensors are also absent. The biggest grouse, perhaps, is the lack of a passenger airbag on the Verito.
A more hospitable cabin?
Some of the ergonomical problems in the Verito have been sorted out and that is good news. Clearly, Mahindra intends to make a fight out of this. The bonnet release button, for example, finds its way to the driver side from the co-passenger’s. In the Ford, it stays on the wrong side. Clearly attention to detail is still not a priority at the blue oval.
What powers these cars? The same four-pot engines as in the earlier models. Classic has the 1.4-litre Duratorq engine, while the Verito has a slightly bigger 1.5-litre powertrain. Both are evenly matched at around 68-BHP power and 160 Nm of torque; for engines this big, one would say way too few horses on duty but the torque is good and evenly spread. The Classic handles better between the two and offers great ride quality. It is a solidly built car meant to last and gobbles potholes at will. The engine is noisy though and there is perceptible diesel clatter.
The Verito pulls cleanly in the mid range making it a good city car but it runs out of steam quickly on the highway. Beyond 120kmph, you do need the Eway to get to stratosphere. The gear is a little rubbery and the steering hard.