Hyundai wants to woo buyers away from the Honda City and Maruti Ciaz with a slew of features and powerful engines.
Midsize sedan buyers have never had it so good. If you want a car for sheer back seat space then the Maruti Ciaz is it. For image conscious buyers nothing can beat the Honda City. For buyers who want nothing but pure engineering, the VW Vento is the car. Hyundai though wants the new Verna to be all things to all people. The company has loaded the new Verna to the gills with features that even cars twice its price don’t get. Hyundai has also given the Verna the most powerful engines in this segment. So does the sum of all parts add up or is it a case of too little too late? After all, this is a segment the Verna once dominated before the arrival of the Ciaz.
There is no denying that the car looks very delightful on the eyes. The flowing lines all across, the big chunky grille and the wraparound headlamps look cool. There are plenty of design cues that make it stand out from the competition. The triple barrel rear lamps for instance give it a unique look, as well as the coupe like sloping roof at the back give it plenty of personality.
This new Verna shares its platform with the much bigger, and more expensive, Elantra. The car looks longer than it is in silhouette and that will be a talking point at the monthly kitty party. Overall, though the car looks like a facelift rather than a completely new design but it does look cool and appealing.
Hyundai cars come with a certain ‘feel good’ factor about their cabins that’s hard to pinpoint but definitely can’t be missed. The Verna also has this ‘X’ factor inside. The perceived quality levels are top notch and even the lower end of the centre console, a place where not too many people pay attention is well bolted.
Another Hyundai highlight of many years, the all new Hyundai Verna features list is rich is present on the Verna too. You get automatic lamps, which have projector lamps in them. A sunroof is standard along with cruise control. But the best feature are the cooled front seats, a boon on a hot summer day in India and something no car in this segment has till now. The AC on the car also gets a smart filter that will help you keep bacteria out of the cabin and the boot also opens up automatically when it senses you are around it with your hands full. Nifty!
Rear seat space is decent in isolation but when compared to its main rivals, could have been better. The sloping rear roof also takes its toll on rear headroom. Six-footers will have their hair brush on the top of the roof if they sit up completely straight.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You get 1.6-litre capacity engines with petrol and diesel fuel options. The diesel makes 128bhp, while the petrol pumps out 123bhp. Both are class leading. You can also choose a six-speed manual and automatic gearbox on both.
Engine refinement is the strong point of both engines, especially the diesel, which is class leading. The diesel engine sounds like a distant murmur and back benchers will be hard pressed to tell if its petrol or diesel powering the new Verna, it is that good.
Power delivery on the diesel is good and the mid range is especially punchy. This car propels forward swiftly and you have to be careful with the accelerator or you could be doing speeds in excess of 100kph in under 10 seconds.
The petrol is a bit lazy belwo 1,500 rpm, so you have to push the revs up a bit to get it going. Even when revved it remains a quiet motor. The mid-range between 2,000-5,000rpm is stunning on the petrol as well.
The six-speed gearbox is a nice and crisp unit and also accurate. This along with the linear and light clutch on both engines makes driving this car a joy.
Ride and handling
Hyundai engineers have also answered the criticism of motoring journalists about the last cars mediocre handling. The new Verna’s steering feels more direct and better connected to the road that the vague and overtly light unit on the last car. It isn’t overtly heavy still, but now has a lot more feel.
At highway speeds the car feels a lot more stable than your last girlfriend and definitely better than the outgoing car. Body roll is always under control and there is some fun to be had around corners for keener drivers. The diesel engine with its power, refinement as well as adroit handling is the best diesel car for drivers in this segment.
With its desirable looks on the outside, its long features list on the inside along with a set of smooth and powerful engines the Verna makes a strong case for itself. But don’t think of it as just a rival to the Honda City and Maruti Ciaz, also think of it as a more affordable alternative to the bigger Elantra and you will realise what good value it is.
Photography: Mohd. Nasir