Tuesday, 18 December 2012

From the "Land of Gangnam Style" : Hyundai's Verna

This is the redesigned Verna which is selling like hotcakes. It's from the "land of Gangnam Style". Made by South Korean motor company Hyundai, this is truly a car worthy checking out if you're in the sub 10 lakh sedan market. It's available with two petrol engines (1.4 and 1.6) and two diesel engines (1.4 and 1.6). It's taken the market by a storm and seems to be one of Hyundai's most successful cars in the Indian Market. The previous Verna may have received a "ho hum" reaction. But this Verna's here to change all of that.

The "+" ve's:

- The new "Fluidic" styling looks a class apart. 
- Powerful petrol and diesel engines.
- An automatic transmission available on the 1.6 petrol and diesel variants.
- Comes with 6 Airbags, ABS and EBD on the top of the line variants.

The "-" ve's:

- The automatic transmissions are just 4 speed units. 
- Pricing on the higher end. Range starts from 7.5 lakhs EX SHOWROOM MUMBAI.
- Base model comes with no Airbags, no ABD and no EBD !


The Verna's interior is miles ahead of that of the competition - I preferred it over the Honda City's as well as the SX4's cabin. In fact, it's a vast improvement over the previous gen Verna's interior. I really despised the previous gen Verna's interior job. But, with this Verna, Hyundai seems to have done it all right. Everything is evidently well built and the dashboard design looks pretty good !

Look at the Verna's steering and, there's a sensation of Deja - Vu. There seems to be part sharing going on here - the i20, the Eon as well as the Verna all have identical steering wheels, except for varying steering mounted button positioning. I'm not complaining at all - this design looks quite stylish and sporty. But, I still like the Honda City's steering design more.

The faux wood trim on the doors looks elegant, and infact impressive. In this car, Hyundai seems to have paid attention to tiny details which ends up giving the Verna's interior a spacious, airy and luxurious feel.

The OEM unit's design wasn't to my liking. Hyundai has done better designs. Plus, I felt that the sound lacked in bass. But, if you won't be listening to loads of music with heavy beats, the OEM unit is good enough for you.

The whole dashboard seems to have this ribbed black texture to it which gives it an anti skid mat like feel. It is truly a nice addition.

The rear seat is low, a tad too low. When I sat at the back, I found the seat to be unusually low, and the window seemed too small. This may not go down well if you're having elders sitting at the back - they might find it tough to bend low to sit down and they will find it uncomfortable for sure. 

However, leg room was satisfactory. Both at the front as well as the rear, I felt that there was more than sufficient leg room.

The boot is large enough for carrying luggage for occasional airport runs. If you're a family of three or four, you could easily fit in your luggage for a weekend escapade in this boot.


 The Verna with it's "Fluidic" styling looks quite stylish and sporty. There's an aggressive flare to the Verna's design which just adds to the car's fabulous looks.
The rear swoops down in a sporty, coupe like manner. The chrome handles in line with the swerve line on the cars side look stunning. The alloy wheel design too is good looking. The windows when looked at from outside look good and well proportioned. But when inside the car, I felt that the windows were a tad too small and could have been larger. Larger windows would have given the Verna's cabin an airier feel.

The front has radical changes. When looked at first, you may not like it, especially the sharp headlamps. But, when looked at for a longer while, you can actually start liking it ! It kind of grows on you. The OVRM design is similar to that of the Sonata. Plus, the L shaped foglamps look nice.

Final Verdict:

The Verna is a pretty good package for it's price. At first, I did under estimate the amount the Verna would sell. But, it seems to have been one of Hyundai's best selling cars in India. You can see Vernas in most nooks and corners in Mumbai. The reason - good value for money. I would surely recommend this over the Honda City, or the SX4. But, I'd also recommend that you check out Skoda's Rapid before buying. If the Rapid isn't what you like, the only other car you should check out is the Verna. Period.

- Naayl Humza,
14 Year old Car Enthusiast.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Engineering Feat: The Tata Nano

This is the brainchild of Mr. Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata group. He aimed to deliver a car to the Indian public which would enable a majority of Indians who own bikes to upgrade to a more safe and comfortable form of transport - this is exactly what the Nano is. Despite production delays, design difficulties, as well as the trouble of having to shift plants from one side of the country to the other, Tata Motors has delivered the Nano. I've been in and around it four years ago when I had visited the Tata plant at Pimpri to meet Mr. Girish Wagh. Mr. Girish Wagh lead the team creating the Nano. He graciously took out time 4 years ago to meet me, a car enthusiast of a mere ten years of age to discuss the Nano and my own attempts at car designs with me.
           The Nano is an amazing car. But, the 2012 Nano is an improvement over the earlier design.
           When the Nano was first launched, I expected it to be seen all around the place. I had a feeling that the Nano would replace most bikes and scooters and would be seen around every nook and corner. But, that's not the case. Things turned out to be really different for this 1 Lakh rupee car. Here are a few possible reasons about why the Nano wasn't adopted by the masses:

- It didn't live up to it's "1 Lakh" price point. The current BSIV base line Nano costs 1.56 Lakhs EX SHOWROOM MUMBAI. That's alot more than what a bike buyer may want to spend. Plus, with taxes and registration costs, the prices would increase by ATLEAST another 10 to 20 thousand rupees.

- The Nano runs on petrol. With petrol costs rocketing Sky high, bike riders wouldn't want to buy a vehicle one third as efficient as some bikes. Thus, because of petrol costs, running the Nano would be a tad too overboard for the masses. The Nano may have sold better if it ran on CNG, or on diesel.

- The Nano wasn't really an amazing status symbol. Most people buy cars as status symbols. But, the only description the Nano was marketed with was "The world's cheapest car". Thus, a cheaper bike would've been a better status symbol than the Nano.

Moving on to the Nano itself,

The "+" ve's:

- A peppy little hatchback. Easy to maneuver through city traffic.
- A lower price point and better styling than most other hatchbacks around it's price.
- An absolute value for money hatchback.

The "-" ve's:

- Certain rough edges still present. Exposed battery present under driver's seat.
- No power steering on any of the Nano models !
- Not alot known about Tata's after sales service for the Nano.

The Interiors:

This is the dashboard of the top of the line Nano variant, the Nano LX. The beige color looks good and gives the car a spacious feel. The dashboard doesn't come with a glove box. But, that's made up for with the provision of those big scoops on the dashboard for keeping stuff.  The Nano's dashboard is simple. Very simple. There are no bells and whistles on the dashboard. Everything in the Nano is just for functionality. Nothing else. It's not a looker when it comes to the interiors. But, the Nano is practical.

This is a side view of the Nano's interiors. The seats seem well cushioned and, the door trim is acceptable. Everything is visibly simplistic. The Nano is strictly a 4 seater car. It will not be able to fit 5 passengers comfortably. Infact, depending on your build and height, you may just find the Nano small and cramped. But, the cabin is excellent when compared to the Nano's immediate competition - the Maruti Suzuki 800. When compared to the 800's cabin, the Nano's cabin comes across as one with a sophisticated design.

This is one of the rough edges of the Nano's cabin - the battery under the driver's seat. It won't be appreciated by most buyers because, it interferes with the rear passenger's feet.

This is the Nano's boot. Just sufficient enough for those airport runs. But, remember, the Nano isn't the car  in which you can take 4 passengers with luggage on a holiday or a weekend escapade in. The Nano is more the tiny, zippy city car which is good for short runs and making your way through city traffic. 

The door trim is excellent considering the Nano's sub 2 lakh price tag ! It is much better than the immediate competition's (Maruti 800) door trim.

The spare wheel as well as the fuel tank door are present under the bonnet. The Nano is the FIRST car I've seen without an externally visible fuel lid.

The silvered gear knob looks cheap. And, cheesy too. I feel that an all black gear knob would've gelled better with the rest of the Tata Nano's cabin. But again, it's a thing about preference. Some people may like this, and some may not.

The Exteriors:

Face it. The Nano doesn't look like a sub 2 lakh car. When it comes to the external looks, the Nano designers seem to have put in their maximum - they've minimized costs, as well as they've delivered a body design which is much better than that of the Maruti 800 and surprisingly, the body design beats that of the Alto and the Eon too ! ( The Alto and the Eon are positioned a segment higher than the Nano).

When I first saw the Nano's rear design around 4 years ago, it reminded me alot of the older Indica model. That too had those long tail lamps on either side. But, even though it's an old design, I'm absolutely not saying that the design looks bad.

The Tata Nano comes with a single wiper. Though that may not go down well with many people, it won't really matter much, unless you're planning to drive the Nano at speeds above 80 on rainy days....

Under the Boot:

Usually, this section is called "Under the Hood". But, there are a few cars like the Nano which are rear engined. So, it's "Under the Boot". On any other car, I'd say that there's a beast under the hood. But for the Nano, there's this tiny puttering 2 cylinder 624 cc petrol engine, under the boot. It cranks out a miniscule 37 Bhp of power, and 5.1 kgm of torque and is mated to a 4 speed manual transmission. Those figures seem pathetic on paper. But, in a tiny car like the Nano, they're just fine. The Nano can hit a maximum of around 105 km/ph. But trust me, you really wouldn't want to do 3 figured speeds in a Nano. The Nano is perfect for city driving, doing short runs, running errands. Expect anything more of the Nano, and it's for sure that you're asking for a little too much from the Nano.

Final Verdict:

After seeing the Nano, I praise Tata Motors. They've achieved something which many manufacturers promise, but aren't able to execute. The Nano is truly AN ENGINEERING FEAT. Building a car at this price point hasn't been cakewalk for the engineers at Tata. So for that, hats off to them. So, lets get down to the final stuff. For whom would it be sensible to upgrade to a Nano ? Well, the answer to that is families which have a bike and want to buy their first car, people who want compact cars which are easy to drive in the city, first time vehicle owners, the list goes on, and on and on. As long as you don't expect the Nano to be a speed demon, you'll be able to appreciate the Nano.

- Naayl Humza,
  14 year old car Enthusiast.