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 it will launch on the 22nd of this month. Hyundai India invited us at its plant for a preview with no photos allowed, hence the global model pics used here. 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). We had a very short time with the car but 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 the blue and black the new Verna looks great while white and silver are not the best for it.
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 design, 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, electric sunroof, climate control, steering controls, cruise control, rear parking sensors with display, 6 airbags 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.
Onto the driving
We would not call it a first drive but a taste as we were only allowed a short spin around the Hyundai test track at its plant in Chennai. 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. 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 short time we had.
Bookings are open and launch is on the 22nd of this month. We expect competitive pricing between the City and Ciaz (under Rs 9 lakh starting). To be honest other than the rear seat space which is less, I do not find anything 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 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.