Friday, 5 August 2011



Which  one’s more beautiful?

Both cars have more organic design elements than their predecessors ever had. In one fell swoop, they’ve made their current generation of cars look old and even a bit outdated. The new Fiesta has a rather prominent nose, and when viewed from the front three-quarters, it does look part of the ‘Kinetic design’ school of thought that first began nearly a decade ago. Being based on a hatchback has some pitfalls though, especially the integration of the boot, which makes the Fiesta saloon rather bulky in appearance. Yet, this is a modern-looking car, one that most will turn around to take another glance at.

The Verna, with its “fluidic design” concept, has its own fair share of fans. Unlike the Fiesta, it isn’t based on a hatch, so the integration with the boot is more fluid than abrupt. Placed next to the Fiesta, the Verna appears longer — and it is! At 4.37 metres, it is some 8 cm longer than the Ford, but it is a tad narrower and shorter. Its coupe-like roofline ensures it never looks bulky, but the shortcoming is that some amount of interior headroom is lost.

FORD FIESTA: 3.5 stars

Which one is nicer to be in?
Admittedly, Ford has done a lot of work to make the new Fiesta better built and better equipped than its predecessor, not just in India, but globally too. So you get features like cruise control (a segment first), a comprehensive Bluetooth-equipped audio system with USB/aux-in ports, auto-folding mirrors, parking sensors and a detailed trip meter among others. Since the local content is on the lower side, this Ford is well-built when compared to its siblings that are sold in India, but it isn’t perfect. Some of the plastics still aren’t up to scratch, especially the door pads, and while we don’t have an issue with the use of black for the interiors, it doesn’t feel as rich as it should for a car that nudges Rs 11 lakh.

Unlike the previous Fiesta, the seats are more comfortable, both at the front and rear, especially the back and lower-back support. The side-bolstering on the front seats works well, but if you are on the larger side, you may find the bolsters digging into your back. The rear seat is well-designed and thought out, whether it is to get in or out, and even headroom and lower-back support. Rear leg room is decent, but doesn’t match up to the Verna.

For the Verna, the back seat is what most will really appreciate. It doesn’t have as much headroom, and because of its lower stance, it isn’t as easy to get in and out of, but the overall sense of room, especially knee, leg and shoulder room and the general design of the seat, make it a more comfortable place to be in. At the front, the Verna feels like a rich car, and the use of lighter colours heightens the sense of space. The feel and texture of materials as well as the finish is leagues ahead of its predecessor. The top-end SX and SX Option versions are well-loaded with a Bluetooth audio system, electric folding mirrors, reversing camera with sensors among others.

FORD FIESTA: 3.5 stars

Which one has the better motor?

The Fiesta for India is the first to receive a pair of 1.5-litre motors (petrol and diesel) which will soon find their way under the bonnets of a host of Fords in India and globally. Producing around 89 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 20.8 kgm of peak torque from as low as 2,000 rpm, the Fiesta diesel is no powerhouse. Unlike the Verna or its competition, the Fiesta uses a fixed geometry turbocharger instead of a variable geometry one and that doesn’t exactly help performance. From a standing start, it takes 13.04 seconds to hit 100 kph, which is quite some way off the Verna, yet the motor does feel rev-happy past 2,000 rpm. A top speed of 173 kph is decent, and it can go from 80 to 120 kph in 10 seconds, which is not bad either.

Driveability, though, is a bit of an issue. The clutch provides too much resistance which makes it bothersome in stop-go traffic and there’s a lot of turbo lag, which doesn’t help its case either.

The Verna continues to remain the king of performance in this sector. With 126 bhp on tap and over 26 kgm of peak torque from its 1.6-litre motor, the Verna leaves the Fiesta for dead on the acceleration charts. The 0-100 kph time of 10.54 seconds is a good 2.5 seconds quicker than the Fiesta, while the run from 80 to 120 kph is a mere 7.2 seconds. A top speed of 191 kph too is pretty much in the territory of some D-segment saloons. In-town driveability and clutch action feel better on the Verna, but it’s in the engine refinement levels where the Verna registers yet another comprehensive win over the Fiesta. On the fuel-efficiency front, the Verna takes a slight edge, returning 15.3 kmpl to the Fiesta’s 15 kmpl.

HYUNDAI VERNA: 4.5 stars
FORD FIESTA: 3.5 stars

Which one is more fun to drive?

Ford is well-known for its driver’s cars and the new Fiesta is no exception. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it now has the best overall dynamics in this segment. Using a boron steel body that makes it light yet rigid, the new Fiesta has road manners that are second to none. Ride quality particularly is an area where the Fiesta scores — it glides over potholes, unruffled. Handling too is neutral, the car pointing exactly in the direction you want it too. The steering isn’t as responsive as its predecessor, given that it’s an electric powered unit, yet the way it weighs up and its accuracy makes up for the loss of feel.

The Verna’s strong point is its ride quality. It’s softer and plusher, making it ideal in city conditions or on bad potholes, but its lower front-lip means it can ground on some rather bad stretches, where the Fiesta won’t. Handling is decent, but it isn’t what you would call exciting and the steering, while great for parking or city use, doesn’t seem to weigh up as well as the Fiesta. Consider the Verna to be good for chauffeur use then, with the Fiesta delighting the driver all the way through.

HYUNDAI VERNA: 3.5 stars
FORD FIESTA: 4.5 stars

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