more efficient than its petrol sibling, and now well priced, has the
Viva CRDi achieved the impossible?
ACCENT VIVA CRDi
Rs 6.87 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Top speed 162 kph
Kpl 12.7 (city), 17.4 (highway)
For Staggering performance, fuel economy
Against Clattery at idle,
low rear seat
fill it, shut it, forget it mid-size car that has a fire-cracker in
and performance are about as compatible as politicians and honesty.
But this is all changing. No, politicians aren't becoming purveyors
of truth and sincerity but diesels, thanks to recent advances in technology,
are becoming astonishingly quick and refined without sacrificing their
holy grail — fuel economy.
New-generation diesels, however, have always come at a price. The
fabulous diesels in the Mercedes range would have you break or rob
the bank to buy them and then it would take you a lifetime to recover
the cost in fuel savings. The Octavia, one of the best diesels around,
is more within reach but that's still a seven-figure sum you're staring
Hyundai being Hyundai realised the need for a reasonably-priced saloon
with cutting edge diesel technology. So when it launched the Accent
CRDi in 2002, not surprisingly, it easily proved to be the best diesel
saloon in its class.
Hyundai has made the common-rail diesel more affordable with the Accent
Viva CRDi. It's essentially the hatchback version of the Accent with
the same common-rail diesel engine but for Rs 40,000 less.
The Viva with its short and stubby rear end looks far sportier than
the regular Accent. The short overhang at the rear with the interesting
ribbed effect under the bumper gives the Viva well balanced proportions,
thereby providing a more appealing look than a conventional saloon.
Unlike the petrol Viva, which has the toothy European grille, the
Viva CRDi uses the same 'developed-for-India' grille of the saloon.
Climb inside and you're greeted by the familiar Accent interior. The
swooping dash, the well designed switches, instruments and seats still
look and feel good. However, the fresh modern designs of competition
like the new Honda City and the Optra now make the Accent's insides
look plain in comparison. Interior comfort isn't the best either and
while the front seats offer ample comfort and legroom, it's at the
rear where the problem is. As with the saloon, legroom at the rear
isn't great and with a tall driver up front, passengers have to tuck
their feet under the front seats. Also, the seat base is low and this
compromises underthigh support.
Luggage space is significantly less than the saloon but it's still
big enough to swallow a large bag or two. What you get with the Viva
is the versatility of a hatchback. The parcel shelf can be removed
and the seats flipped forward, which makes it possible to carry very
Drive the Viva CRDi and it doesn't feel very much different from its
saloon sibling and that's no bad thing. The responsiveness of the
engine, the push you get in the back when you stab the accelerator,
it's all there. In fact, weighing 85kg less than the saloon, the Viva
CRDi is now marginally quicker and that's saying something.
The kick when you kick the accelerator pedal, the way the Accent Viva
CRDi responds when you ask it to make up that gap to the car ahead,
when you want to make those lights or simply pass someone for the
heck of it, is special. A direct immediate response that obeys your
right foot, it's as if you're only releasing power
the engine has built up and stored through a tap.
Power in the mid and low range is particularly strong which takes
you straight from idle speeds to real power at 2000rpm with minimal
turbo-lag. Beyond 2000rpm, the engine tugs you forward smartly with
the awesome 19.1kgm of torque pulling hard, like an invisible hand
that has grabbed the Accent by the chin. And the rate of acceleration
is unabated until you hit the rev limiter.
Flat out against the clock, this car hits the 100 kilometres an hour
mark in 13.21 seconds, the 140kph mark coming up in an unreal 28.62
seconds. Unreal because the Viva CRDi is faster than many petrol-powered
mid-size cars. And it is a diesel!
Few cars with diesel engines under the hood can genuinely lay claim
to being a pleasure to drive. But every rule has an exception, and
this is it. The flexibility of this amazing motor, not a term we use
lightly, is special too. Get the engine to spin above 1500rpm, let
the torque come tumbling through the floodgates and you have a car
that is faster than even the responsive Ikon 1.6 petrol! And that
takes some doing. Yes, the diesel trade-off exists, the three-cylinder
motor shakes itself awake when you start up, a muffled rattle is audible
and there's a fair amount of vibration which can be felt, particularly
The Viva CRDi isn't super-quiet and you are always aware of what's
under the hood. It's only at cruising speeds that you can't tell what's
under the bonnet as wind noise and tyre roar take over.
On the highway, the Viva CRDi is an awesome mile-muncher and can cruise
effortlessly at high speeds. Overtaking is a joy and you rarely need
to shift down a gear to pass slower-moving traffic.
The performance of this engine is all down to the common-rail technology
it comes with. This system essentially uses a very high-pressure fuel
pump which supplies diesel to the three cylinders via a common high
pressure rail. Injection pressures are as high as 1400 bar, enough
to allow the fuel to combat the high pressure experienced inside a
combustion chamber during direct injection. Throttle responses are
better and using direct injection (DI) improves low end torque and
efficiency dramatically. A turbo is also used to boost power.
The CRDi unit under the hood of the Accent is not all Hyundai. Engineering
work for the engine was conducted with the help of diesel specialists
V M Motori of Italy via Detroit Diesel, a DaimlerChrysler company.
Efficiency is impressive too. In the city we achieved a thrifty 12.7kpl
in the city and a staggering 17.4kpl on the highway. These figures
are marginally better than the Accent saloon CRDi as well. This is
the fill it, shut it, forget it mid-size car, without a shadow of
Like the saloon, the Viva CRDi rides and handles better than its petrol
siblings. The diesel Accent uses a stiffer suspension to tackle the
additional weight of the engine and the benefits are road manners
which are secure, safe and instill high levels of confidence in the
driver. The only trade-off is at low speeds on poor surfaces where
you can feel every pebble on the road. Step up the pace and the Viva
flattens every bad road with ease. The excessive pitching of the petrol
cars is missing and it even steers much better.
Hyundai launched the Viva CRDi to counter the new Honda City. On paper,
it has got the key factors stacked in its favour. Price, performance
and fuel efficiency are better than the City.
It's not as user-friendly or as refined and the interior space is
cramped in comparison. Besides, the Viva CRDi's excellent high-speed
poise and cruising ability makes it a car that's better suited for
highways than town. How-
ever, as an overall package for someone looking at an economical car
that doesn't compromise on performance and is reasonably priced, the
Viva CRDi is certainly among the best you could get.l