The crossover and hatchback segments may be booming with constant flow of new models but the same cannot be said for the C-segment sedan market. Currently you will only find the Honda City and the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz maintaining steady sales in this space. Now however, things have heated up considerably with the new Hyundai Verna. Featuring a heavy dose of design update, segment-first features and a whole new platform (from the Elantra), the Verna you see here is all-new, indeed. However, will it turn into yet another success s
The previous-gen Verna (introduced in 2011) marked a gargantuan shift in design, and a really good one at that, compared to its predecessor. This time though Hyundai seems to have played safe with this new avatar of the Verna. Even though its appearance has been heavily updated, this new model reminds us of the previous Verna when viewed in profile. Speaking of updates, the front and rear look of this car is entirely new. Upfront you get Hyundai’s cascade grille with horizontal chrome slats and swept back projector headlamps with DRLs. The new Verna certainly impresses when you move onto the rear – the Elantra-like LED tail lamps (not standard on all variants) and the rear bumper with black insert look good and, more importantly, well proportionate as well.
In terms of dimensions, the new Verna has grown slightly in all tangents. It is, in fact, longer, wider and with a wheelbase that’s lengthier compared to the model. Hyundai has also managed to increase the legroom and boot space, both of which will come in handy for potential buyers.
After spending a few hours behind the wheel, we can assure that the new Verna’s cabin is a nice place to spend time in. The dual-tone dashboard isn’t the most striking looking thing in the universe but in typical Hyundai fashion, it’s superbly put together and well laid out. Most of the interior is lined in quality fabrics and soft-touch plastics which help create a soothing ambience that cars like the Honda City and the Volkswagen Vento cannot match.
Featuring quite a few segment first features, equipment is one area where the new Verna impresses big time. On the top-spec trim you get ventilated front seats, automatic opening for the boot-lid and impact sensing auto door unlock – features that are unheard of in this segment. Additionally, the car also gets climate control, electrically foldable mirrors, adjustable rear headrests, electric sunroof, a nice sounding infotainment system with smartphone mirroring, rear ac vents and start/stop button. As for safety features, there’s dual airbags and ABS standard on all variants (top-end variants get six airbags), ISOFIX child mounts, cornering lamps, reverse parking camera with guidelines and sensors.
The ventilated seats add a lot to the overall comfort especially under the sun, as we found out during the drive. Even otherwise, the front seats are appropriately sized when it comes to width and under thigh support. Covered in leather-like trim, they are comfortable and supple enough without being too soft. The rear seat experience, however, isn’t as alluring despite the slightly longer wheelbase than before. Sure, there’s more than enough legroom for two occupants but because of the sloping roofline, Hyundai has had to set the rear bench quite low to liberate as much headroom as possible. Despite the efforts, the headroom isn’t the best in class and neither is under thigh support. Ultimately, the Ciaz and the City make for a more convincing chauffeur-driven option.
A lot has changed under the skin of the new Verna. We will get on with the engines first – Hyundai has retained the 1.6-litre petrol and diesel motors and binned the 1.4-litre units from the range. The new bits come in the form of 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. We, however, could only sample the diesel model equipped with a 6-speed manual. Nonetheless, this 1582cc four-cylinder motor is a sweet little unit, putting out 128bhp of power and 260Nm of torque. Although it doesn’t get any more power than before, the diesel makes peak torque across a wider range – 1,500-3,000rpm as against 1,900-2,750rpm in the earlier car. Naturally, the Verna now feels slightly stronger at the bottom end and driving it around the town is a doddle, thanks to the engine’s strong, linear power delivery and ample grunt to overtake slow moving traffic. Once coaxed up to highway speed, the Verna is happy to stay there.
The diesel Verna’s refinement has always been rather impressive and this new model is no different. The engine is really silent at slow speeds with hardly any vibrations to feel through the steering wheel or the floor. It’s only when you want to make quick progress by flooring the throttle that you will hear some diesel clatter. All in all, the Verna remains significantly more refined and quieter than the likes of Honda City and the VW Vento. Good things continue as we move onto the gearshift quality – the 6-speed manual is incredibly smooth and precise and even the clutch pedal is light and progressive, making light work of driving in traffic.
The Verna may have been a slick city runabout but it has always struggled at high speeds, what with its alarmingly bouncy rear-end and light steering. Hyundai has worked on eliminating the fidgety high speed ride with the previous Verna 4S, however, it’s this all-new model that shows some noticeable improvement. Built on an all-new platform similar to the Elantra, the Verna benefits from improved shock absorption and revised orientation for the rear springs to minimise shock rebound. Firm but compliant is what we have come to expect from newer Hyundais and the Verna is no different – the high speed ride is no longer springy and unlike its predecessor, the car settles down easily when going over lumps and potholes. The low speed ride, on the other hand, seems to have gotten a little stiffer than before. While we didn’t encounter much of bad roads on our drive out of Kochi, the Verna responded harshly to road joints and sharp-edge bumps.