6th Jun 2011 7:00 am
While enthusiasts may not take well to the Verna’s floppy high speed ride and uninvolving driving experience, these are secondary considerations to typical buyers in this segment
If your driving is restricted to the city, you’ll love the Verna’s electrically powered steering. It is light and just what the doctor ordered for effortless scything through crowded urban streets and squeezing into tight parking spots. Drive faster than city speeds and the story becomes quite different. There is an irritating dead zone at the straight-ahead position and a disconcerting inconsistency in the way the steering weights up. So what you get is a rather disconnected driving experience with little feedback from the road. Hard acceleration also brings about some torque steer on the diesel Verna.
Given India’s roads, ride quality can make or break (literally too) a car. The good news is that the Verna delivers on this front. Low speed ride is good with the softly set-up suspension ably absorbing all but the largest potholes. There is, however, a fair amount of vertical movement on the petrol Verna especially at the rear, this bobbing only amplifying with speed. The diesel’s stiffer front springs (to carry the additional weight of the engine) do their bit in delivering a flatter high speed ride. The added weight up front also allows the steering to weight up better.
High speed bumps also tend to unsettle the Verna a fair amount and call for a steady hand on the steering wheel. Straightline stability is average and not quite as reassuring as it should be. The Verna’s ride-oriented soft suspension has also invariably dulled driving dynamics. Cornering manners are tidy but this is no Ford Fiesta. The body rolls quite a bit and, given the vague feel at the wheel, does not bode well for really enthusiastic driving. However, there is ample grip from the oversized 195/55-R16 Bridgestones when such an occasion does arise.
The Verna comes with disc brakes all around and the top-end model we tested is equipped with ABS and EBD as well. Sadly, the brake pedal is devoid of much feel in the crucial first few centimetres of travel. Also, in panic stops, the soft rear struggles to hold its line and threatens to step out. This can get unnerving if you are not used to it.