The outgoing Hyundai Verna has been a popular car and dominated the C segment for quite some time. Honda City before the current generation had only a petrol engine and Maruti Suzuki was getting nowhere close with the SX4.
Then came the new gen Honda City, going straight to the top of the table with its diesel option and Maruti launched the Ciaz. Now, both Ciaz and City are playing musical chair for the leader seat and Verna suddenly found itself as a mere spectator. So, the new generation Hyundai Verna literally has more pressure in terms of expectations and investment to hit the ball out of the park.
Hyundai is betting big with the new 2017 Verna and has invested Rs 1,000 crore in the car. The new Verna, at first sight, will look similar to the previous generation, especially in profile. But stare more and the new design comes alive. Built on an all-new K2 platform with 50 per cent Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), Hyundai Verna promises to offer more rigidity than the competition without any significant gain in weight.
To the front, the new Verna gets striking new grille with chrome slats, flanked by LED projector headlamps and daytime running lights that are similar to the older car. The front bumper and fog lamp housings are new and so are the 5-spoke diamond cut 16” alloy wheels that look great. The side profile again reminds you of the older Verna with its swooping coupe-like roof and rising window line. There’s also a deep character line that runs from the front wheel arch to the tail lamp. At the rear, the new LED tail lamps are similar to the new Elantra and Xcent facelift units. The wide tail lamps along with the rear bumper make the car look wider from behind.
Get inside and you see nothing exciting. The interiors are new and so is the steering wheel, but all the other things from the centre console to the dashboard don’t invoke any excitement. Of course, you cannot find fault with the materials used or build quality as they are best-in-segment. And in typical Hyundai fashion, the Verna impresses you with its long line of equipment. While you get a 7.0-inch touch screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, electric sunroof, rear AC vents, cruise control and engine start/stop button that are customary by today’s standard. Where Verna beats out the competition is with features like first-in-segment front ventilated seats and smart trunk.
Space in the front has nothing to complain about but at the rear, the new Verna is not as spacious as the Ciaz or the City. That doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable but just not the segment best.
Hyundai has dropped the 1.4-litre diesel and petrol units from the previous generation and the new Verna gets the same 1.6-litre diesel and petrol units. Also gone is the 4-speed automatic gearbox. You can now opt between a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic that is available for both the engines.
Hyundai Verna trumps the competition when it comes to power and performance in both engine size and output. The 1.6-litre petrol makes a maximum power and torque of 123 PS and 150 Nm, the 1.6-litre diesel unit pumps out 128 PS and 260 Nm of power and torque respectively. Both the engines have best-in-class power and torque figures.
Verna’s 1.6-litre diesel engine is one of the best in class in terms of power delivery and refinement, too. Though not punchy as expected from the power output, there is lots of torque available to work around and the diesel variant is more enjoyable with the auto gearbox.
Hyundai has worked to great lengths to improve the steering and suspension. The new Verna feels better planted thanks to the new suspension setup that has been tuned to offer better handling and ride quality. The steering, too, has been improved to offer more feedback and to feel tighter. The NVH levels, too, have been worked with caution to make it class-leading. Safety features include six airbags, ABS, reverse camera and parking sensors.
Hyundai has made the new Verna much better across all the departments. It now handles well, has more features and is more powerful than the competition. But the new Verna just doesn’t feel special enough for a new generation model.