After the hatchbacks, the C-sedan segment is where all the action lies nowadays. With Honda City getting a diesel engine and with the entry of Maruti Ciaz, it was time that Hyundai, with its best-selling product in their portfolio did something to challenge the competition.
Hyundai did rule the roost with its diesel engine, automatic gearbox, best-in-class features and other subjective things brought the customers to the showrooms. However, all things changed after City came with diesel engine and Ciaz made a value proposition like no other. Hyundai reacted by tweaking the suspension and adding DRL to the package but now the Verna received a substantial facelift with an objective of regaining the lost ground. How does it fare? We find out!
When you look at the side profile it looks exactly the same with no changes whatsoever. The coupe style roofline and edgy window line still grab a lot of attention. The rear too is similar except for new detailing on the taillight elements and bumper reflectors. The front is where it has truly changed with a new sleeker bumper, two slat grill and a revised headlight design with integrated projector elements. Overall, the refreshed front fascia brings about a fresh feel but some would still like the old car’s design better.
First impression when you get into the cabin is that quality is good all around and so are fit and finish levels. However, the look of the center console is dated now with old school fonts inside and outside the infotainment system. The faux wooden and piano black inserts don’t do much to elevate the cabin ambiance. The console is cluttered with buttons but they are very intuitive and fall into hands perfectly.
The leather wrapped steering is great to hold and so is the handbrake. The arm-rest with built-in storage is comfortable and practical. The MID shows a lot of data which includes average and real-time fuel efficiency, two trip meters, tank range, gear shift indicator and other bits which are toggled by the trip button. The temperature gauge and fuel gauge are displayed side by side on the top of screen and are quite accurate.
The cockpit is roomy enough with good all around visibility but the front visibility could have been better (A-pillars can create huge blind spots at times). Space at the rear in terms of legroom is just about adequate and shoulder room is fine but head room is lacking. Anyone with a height of above 5’9″ would find it difficult. Under thigh support is quite low and recline of seat isn’t done right either for lower back support. Overall, interior is good enough at first glance with decent room but there are short comings which can be improved in the future.
Tons of features on the Verna are available such as, start-stop button, backlit brightness control switch, Rear View Camera with Display on ECM, Rear Parking Sensors, Day/Night rear view mirror, Projector Headlamps with Escort Function, Front Fog Lamps, Front and Rear Defogger with Timer, Clutch Lock System, Central Locking (Driver Side), Automatic Headlight Control, Immobilizer, Electrically Adjustable and Electrically Fold-able ORVMs, Rain Sensing Wipers, Height Adjustable Front Seatbelts for driver and passenger, 2 Din Audio with 1 GB memory, Bluetooth Connectivity, Steering Mounted Audio Control Bluetooth Handsfree and Ergolever for front Passenger seat. In terms of safety, the Verna has ABS with EBD, Impact Sensing Auto Door Unlock, Speed sensing Auto Door lock on all variants and six airbags on top variant while base variants don’t get any.
Engine and Transmission
The Verna is available with 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. The 1.4-litre units make do with 5-speed manual gearboxe while the bigger engines offer a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions. Our test car was powered by the 1.6-litre diesel engine which produces a class leading 126 PS and 260 Nm of torque. The engine is an extremely smooth and refined unit and has class leading NVH. While most of competition have serious NVH issues, the Verna is just aces ahead. There is hardly any noise inside the cabin at any given speed, except when you redline it but even then, it has a sporty note and not a typical diesel clatter.
Performance is quite stellar as the power-to-weight ratio seems very high (Hyundai has managed to hide kerb weight since day one) and once you hit the 1700-1900 RPM roundabouts the turbo kicks and it just surges ahead. Mid-range like any other diesel engine is very strong and relentless, plus there is a good amount of top-end power too. The motor does not stop pulling even at serious highway speeds. The 6-speed gearbox is smooth and easy to live with as the shifts are slick and throws are short.
The 1.6-litre diesel and petrol have received changes which include new pistons and ECU mapping, resulting in an improved fuel economy. ARAI fuel efficiency figures for the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol motors with manual gearbox are 17.43 kmpl and 17.01 kmpl respectively. ARAI stats have seen a bump by a good amount for the diesel engines. It’s 24.8 kmpl (previous was 23.5 kmpl) for the 1.4-litre and 23.9 kmpl (vs 21.9 kmpl) for the 1.6-litre unit. What we got in the 1.6 diesel is 14 km/l in the city and 18 km/l on the highway with slightly heavy foot.
Ride Handling and Braking
When it comes to the dynamics, the Verna has been in spot light for the wrong reasons. The car is not known for its handling car. Hyundai, being a keen listener, has done the needful this time and says the changes are substantial. How does it fair compared to the old one? Well, it’s miles ahead. The ride quality despite being a stiffed suspension is extremely good and spot on without pitching or crashing in pot holes. It glides over most uneven surfaces with absolute peace at low to medium speeds. High speed manners have improved drastically and there isn’t nervousness of the highest order but there is a wee bit of it post 140 km/hr something which is acceptable and depends on demands from driver to driver.
Braking? Well Hyundai has silently removed disc brakes from the rear (it is being done with facelifts just like how they did with i20). In that process the brake pedal feel at the initial part is quite wooden and hence it needs a big shove to shed some speed. ABS kicks in quickly. Steering is very vague and has no feedback whatsoever. In the city and at parking speeds its extremely light, so its quite convenient there.
When it comes to handling, the suspension does a great job at low to medium speeds. Body roll is very well controlled due to well calibrated suspension but a light steering and a hesitant chassis dilutes the fun factor. Overall, a great improvement but surely there is more fine tuning left to be done to woo the enthusiast as the engine is just part of a small story.
As we know there are tons of options to choose from as there many transmissions and engines provided. The list includes the price of the variants Hyundai has to offer with the Verna and pricing seems quite competitive and good value as well considering the changes done to this model are quite substantial.
Verna dominated the segment and still does impressive numbers on the sales chart.
As a package to delight the consumers, the Verna has it spot on. You get a lot of goodies for your money, you get a very efficient and powerful engine in the 1.6-litre diesel. Safety is top notch for every variant except the base variant and top variant retains the six airbags which is segment best. However, if you’re an enthusiast who loves driving and want maximum comfort for rear seat occupants, the competition is there to impress you. If you want an efficient performer with a delightful and calm nature, the Hyundai Verna is seriously worth considering.