Well, how’s this – the Verna diesel automatic will make the older one burn with envy, even question the reason for its very existence. Okay, so that was a bit too brief. But seriously, this Verna is nothing like the one it replaces. It’s way cooler to look at, to start with. This new fluidic styling that has been coming out of the Hyundai design studios is refreshing, with the staid looking cars turning into head-turners. A stark contrast from the over-ripe pumpkin-like silhouette of its predecessor, the lines of this Verna are sharp and stealthy and at the same time, add some muscle to the car – they’re certainly the sort of design touches that will ensure the car doesn’t age quickly.
The Verna isn’t just about mere looks, either. This is a car that Hyundai has packaged really well – you name the feature, and the Verna probably has it. From the faux wood inserts to a reversing camera – the screen is neatly housed within the rear view mirror and you won’t know it’s there till you slip the gear selector to ‘R’ – the Hyundai will not disappoint. The audio system plays nearly all formats known to mankind and a very handy USB slot is present, along with an AUX port as well. Keyless entry ensures that the valet has the time of his life figuring out the location of the key slot (there isn’t one, in case you were wondering) and the engine start-stop button keeps up his anxiety a while longer. Now that’s something!
Hyundai has gone to such an extent to make this car effortless that the power steering has next to no feel. You might actually be able to twirl the wheel with your little finger and that too, at speed. I don’t recommend that, though. This might seem sacrilege to some of you, but there’s a larger clump of people who’d prefer a very light steering wheel. And more often than not, these are the people who’ll like this aspect of the Verna.
The engine is a playful 1.6 -litre diesel motor, in keeping with Hyundai’s history of making peppy diesels. It’s smooth and quite refined, but does tend to get a tad vocal when whipped hard. With 0-60 kph taking a smidgeon over 5.5 seconds and the tonne arriving at just under 12 seconds, the Verna is quick enough for most purposes.
I simply love that free-revving motor, but what spoils the fun somewhat is the four-speed gearbox. Don’t get me wrong here – this transmission, with its capacity to shift ‘manually’, is way more responsive than that of the older Verna. It shifts quicker through the gears and that’s enjoyable, especially on long, winding expressways. But for someone who wants his car’s motor to sing till it gets hoarse, the gearbox will simply refuse to get the revs anywhere near the 5000 redline. Even when the transmission is slipped into ‘manual’ mode, the system will upshift the moment the engine hits about 4100 rpm, no matter how much you beg it not to.
In the handling department, the Verna is composed in city conditions and the ride quality is plush over broken roads at traffic speeds. Push hard on the throttle and the car begins to show a totally different side, an unnerving side. The Verna tends to lose its rear during hard cornering and a series of road undulations encountered at high speed can unsettle the car. I think this is the only downer when it comes to this Verna. Oh, and although quite unrelated to the topic at hand, I wish the car’s electronic mirror adjustment and power window switches were illuminated when the headlights are turned on.
All in, this Verna is a substantial step up over the last one. Sure, it has its set of niggles, but the merits of the car far outweigh these, so much so that I’d certainly recommend it to anybody who wants a nice, tidy diesel automatic intended predominantly for urban use.
VERNA 1.6 CRDI AT
Displacement: 1582cc, I-4, diesel
Max power: 126 bhp@4000 rpm
Max torque: 26.5 kgm@1900 rpm
Specific output: 79.6 bhp/litre
Power to weight: 106.04 bhp/tonne
Torque to weight: 22.2 kgm/tonne
Transmission: 4-speed auto
Type: Rack and pinion with power assist
Turning radius: 5.2 m
Front: McPherson strut
Rear: Torsion beam axle
Front: Ventilated discs
Rear: Solid discs
ABS: Standard with EBD
(F/R): 195/55 R16
L/W/H (mm): 4370/1700/1475
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Track (F/R): 1495/1502 mm
Boot volume: 465 litres
Tank capacity: 43 litres
0-60 kph: 5.6 secs
0-100 kph: 11.9 secs
80-120 kph: 7.9 secs
100-140: 10.7 secs
Top speed: 178 kph (achieved)
Overall: 11.9 kpl