Is there's anyone who is best known for a diesel sedan under Rs 10 lakh, with a right combination of performance and practicality, then it's Hyundai and their Verna that come to the top of most people's minds. And while the Verna has gone through a "Transform"ation recently, it now has to contend with a pretty strong competitor - the Volkswagen Vento.
For many, the Vento is nothing more than a Polo with a boot, but VW have worked their way in to ensure it gets a longer wheelbase and more interior room. In fact, room here is a tad better than the Verna, both for the front and rear seat occupants. On the outside, the Verna Transform is not something of sheer beauty and is a bit too radical for most people's tastes. The Vento, on the other hand has a nice balanced look, even though we'd have liked to see a more interesting tail lamp design.
Going back to the inside, it's the Vento who has a more interesting interior, while the Verna can be termed 'par for the course'. The overall feel of the materials of the Vento give you the impression of being of a much higher grade, while the Verna does have a lot of colours to provide relief. Beige is highly used for both, though it's a tad more in the Vento than the Verna.
The engines on both the cars are quite torquey. While the 1.5-litre diesel on the Verna has more power and is more refined, the one on the Vento is a tad bit torquier. Both will get to 100 kph in under 12 seconds, but it's the Vento that is a shade quicker. The 110 horsepower Verna simply loses out to the higher displacement, 104 bhp Vento on account of torque as well as gearing. The Vento has slightly shorter gearing which helps it get there quicker. Efficiency-wise, it is the Vento that scores marginally over the Verna in the combined cycle. But the Verna fights back by offering an automatic gearbox option, which the Vento currently doesn't offer.
Dynamically too, it is the Vento that feels more sure-footed and more predictable. It turns into corners better and rides quite well too. The Verna feels more comfortable on arrow-shot straight roads and a bit too nervous and understeery around corners. There's also more pitch and body roll in the car due to its soft suspension while ride quality is a bit more pliant here.
Even though the Verna's price tag of Rs 7.84 to 9.19 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) cannot hide the fact that the Vento (Rs 8.19-9.46 lakh) is a more superior car in terms of engine performance, dynamics, interiors and overall competence. The Verna also feels a half generation older when compared to its German competition and doesn't do anything spectacularly. In the end, the Vento overwhelmingly leaves the Verna behind.