The new Verna carries forward the four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines from the old model, though, they have been suitably tweaked for use here and also see revisions in their power and torque outputs. The dual variable valve timing-equipped petrol engine, for one, makes the same 123hp of max power as before but now does so at 6,400rpm rather than the earlier Verna’s 6,300rpm. And where the engine developed its 155Nm of max torque at 4,200rpm in the old Verna, it makes a marginally lesser 151Nm at a later 4,850rpm in the new car. Hyundai has also enhanced the engine’s low-end pulling power to ease drivability. At 1,500rpm, the engine makes 130Nm as opposed to 121Nm in the older car.
The revamped power delivery characteristics, as well as the adoption of a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the old five-speeder, have had a measureable effect on performance. The new Verna petrol manual is not only quicker than the old car in flat-out acceleration and through the gears, but is actually the quickest
of its peers in gears four and five, and all but matches the surprisingly brisk Maruti Ciaz in the third gear slog too. There’s a new-found flexibility to the engine, which is a boon in town and allows you to ◊
∆ get by driving in a higher gear without much protest from the car. And it’s not that the pleasant gearbox or the light (if slightly springy) clutch are bothersome to use either, refinement levels are
also excellent at low revs so you’d just find yourself upshifting early by default. At times when you do hold on to the gear, the engine will rev cleanly to 5,000rpm, after which it takes its time to get to the 6,500rpm limiter. That Honda City VTEC-like manic top-end rush is, unfortunately, missing.
Compared to the manual, the petrol automatic is quite different in character. It’s nice and well-mannered when you are ambling around town, but so much as hint at the need for more performance and, with a dab on the throttle, the six-speed torque converter automatic will respond readily, if a bit over enthusiastically, with a downshift and sometimes even two. Unlike typical new-age autos that are tuned to keep revs low for best efficiency, the Verna’s unit keeps revs around the 2,000rpm mark. While that gets you instantaneous responses from the engine, you also hear more of the otherwise quiet engine and get the feeling that the gearbox is perpetually in a sort of ‘Sport’ mode setting. You can take manual control via the gear lever to get the gearbox to behave as per your liking and it’s nice how responsive the system is.
If you happen to be a high-mileage user, it’s the diesel Vernas that will be of greater interest to you. The 1.6-litre variable geometry turbo-diesel continues to top the segment for power (128hp) and torque (260Nm) but the crucial difference is that max torque is now available at a more accessible 1,500-3,000rpm, as opposed to the narrower 1,900-2,750rpm band in the last Verna. Also interesting is the fact that the six-speed manual gearbox runs shorter third and fourth gears here.
We expected the new Verna diesel to be quicker than the old one and it is. The new Verna’s 0-100kph time of 9.32sec betters the old car’s class-best figure by 0.4sec, but what’s more telling is the improvement in in-gear acceleration. The new Verna is not mere milliseconds but full seconds quicker than the old car in benchmark roll-on times! 20-80kph in third gear takes 9.87sec to the old car’s time of 12.17sec, while 40-100kph in fourth gear takes 11.88sec to the old car’s 15.25sec time. Shorter gear ratios aside, the difference in performance is also down to how the updated engine produces its power. Where the old version of the engine bunched up its power for release after 1,800rpm or so, you get to the best of what the new version has to offer far earlier on. A Skoda Rapid or Volkswagen Vento diesel is quicker still in the gears, but where power from the VW TDI engine comes in a rush, the build of power is smooth and linear in the Verna. The Hyundai unit is responsive and likeable, and what makes it more likeable still is the high level of refinement. Sure, there is an audible clatter at middle revs but the sound seems relatively distant and is nowhere near as gruff or as loud as that emitted by other diesels in this segment. Noise levels do increase significantly as you extend the engine, but given the ready power on offer you’ll seldom feel the need to explore the top-end of the rev range. Once again, gearshifts on the six-speed manual gearbox are nice and the clutch, though springy, has a progressive action.
The other Verna diesel is the automatic and its six-speed torque converter ’box too is well in tune with the characteristics of the engine. It effects gear changes in a timely manner, is quick to adapt to changes in driving style and is also responsive to manual inputs via the gear lever. Performance is strong too, with kickdown acceleration at par with the dual-clutch gearbox-equipped versions of the diesel Vento and Rapid.