Hyundai has had a great run with its line-up of SUVs and hatchbacks with both the likes of the Grand i10 and the Creta bringing huge numbers month on month. But it is the sedan space that Hyundai wants to conquer and grab a big slice of the Honda City/ Maruti Ciaz pie. The earlier Verna slipped behind and needed a refresh but Hyundai have gone ahead and brought in a new gen model which has just been launched with a lip-smacking price-tag. So just how good is this new sedan from the Korean car giant? Read on.
How does it look?
Pretty darn good. The new Hyundai design language takes a more conservative approach but to our eyes, the new Hyundai cars are pretty but not overdone and generally one of the best looking cars in its class- case in point the new Elantra. The new Verna is exactly that with a shrunken Elantra look and that is no bad thing. The 5th gen model is longer and wider than its predecessor and it has a longer wheelbase too (more on that later). Design wise while the side and the rear reminds of the current one, the face is more more aggressive and the overall look goes up several notches in terms of being premium.
The front as we have said is the best part with the big new grille and those nicely detailed and generously proportioned headlamps which are of course projectors with LED DRLs. The new design 16 inch alloys look smart as well while the rear now sports bigger and more detailed LED tail-lamps. In typical Hyundai you have a huge colour choice as well with no less than 7 options including a stunning flame orange and a fiery red while the siena brown colour (used in majority of pics) looks great as well.
Hyundai is known for its interior quality and features but with strong competition from the new Honda City, Hyundai too have upped their game with a cabin that is easily class best in terms of quality and of course features. The design is not radical though and some of the bits are identifiable from other Hyundai cars. But quality and feel of the switches is all top-drawer stuff. The highlight though has to be the features as Hyundai have spoiled us again with features picked from a segment above.
Other than that you have rear ac vents, smart trunk, rear curtain, electric sunroof, climate control, push button start/stop, steering controls, cruise control, rear parking sensors with display, 6 airbags (dual airbags standard) etc. One of the biggest criticisms of the previous gen Verna was the lack of space at the back. That has been cured. To a point. While it is without doubt a much better place to be with more legroom and headroom plus thigh support is much better too with you not sitting so low or claustrophobic like the previous model, the space is just not enough to compete with its direct rivals. Headroom is a bit tight also and it does not feel airy like rivals. But it is improved from the earlier model. The 480l boot is more than ample.
Onto the driving
There is a lot to talk though as there is a new platform plus 1.4 engines are no longer there and as is the 4-speed AT which has been confined to the history books. Thus the new Verna comes with 1.6 diesel and petrol engine with a 6-speed manual and automatic (torque converter). The petrol makes 121 bhp and the diesel 126 bhp. We drove both the diesel manual and auto.
First of all the refinement of the diesel is superb and much better than rivals. The manual diesel is the most fun car from whatever time I had in both. The clutch and gearshift is light and very smooth plus there is plenty of power for effortless cruising. You do not need to work the gearbox. Power delivery is smooth as well and is spread out well with hardly any lag. The diesel AT was impressive too. If you drive it hard the gearbox is a bit slow but with normal driving it is very smooth and just effortless. A huge change over the 4-speed one and we feel many will go for this. We had also had the petrol automatic for a short spin and more than the diesel, the petrol with the automatic felt even smoother. You can barely hear this petrol and the driving experience is akin to a class above. Compared to the previous petrol, there is lot more torque and you do not need to work hard for the performance.
What is most impressive though is the handling. It is leagues ahead of the previous gen model. It is not as sloppy around corners, the steering is not as vague and grip and composure when pushed around, is a massive leap forward. The steering which still has the typical Hyundai lightness is much more direct and overall here is a big improvement. While it is still soft with a good ride, it is so much better to drive- something we found out easily in the time we had. While the new Verna is not an enthusiast car, the handling is no longer an issue, and infact it has now among the best combo of ride and handling plus the refinement of both the motors gives it an edge.
The ride is absorbs bad roads better now with only the really sharp ones filtering in. As someone who drove the previous Verna at high triple digit speeds- the new one feels so much more stable and has more control. It is confident at higher speeds now and fairly composed with the car not getting unsettled easily. Yes i cannot stress enough just how much of an improvement the Verna is now in this department.
As we had said at the beginning, Hyundai have gone really aggressive with the prices and that has turned things even more in its favour. Prics start at Rs 7.99 lakh for the base manual petrol while the top-end petrol AT is Rs 12.2 lakh. The diesel starts at Rs 9.19 lakh while the most expensive diesel AT is Rs 12.6 lakh. To be honest other than the rear seat space which is less, I do not find anything that I do not like here. Core Hyundai strengths have been enhanced with a terrific interior and a long features list. But it is so much better to drive now being a much more sorted package. The refinement and smoothness of the diesel/petrol plus the AT would be a big draw too. Plus add premium styling and the new Verna ticks many boxes. It might just be the best sedan from Hyundai yet.