Why would I buy it?
- Fantastic performance
- Lots of features
- Improved rear seat space
Why would I avoid it?
- Polarizing design
- No diesel option anymore
Engine and Performance
Fortunately or unfortunately diesel vehicles are being killed off and the effect can be seen in the midsize sedan segment as well. It’s actually because of the stricter real world driving emission norms that have forced Honda to discontinue the City diesel and now Hyundai has also dropped the diesel engine option for the Verna. Now you get two petrol engine options, a 1.5 naturally aspirated engine and a 1.5-litre Turbo.
We drove the Verna Turbo (pictures shown here are of 1.5 NA model) which makes 160horsepower and 253Nm of torque. Now that’s a surprising amount of power and torque for the Verna and it shows with the way how the Verna drives. There’s power all across the rev range and once its past 4,000rpm it pulls hard and the turn of speed is thrilling. Speaking of refinement, this new four cylinder engine is among the most refined petrol engines we have seen in the sub 20 lakh rupee space. Even at high RPMs, it doesn’t sound coarse or feel like its struggling. The 6-speed manual is also smooth and comes with a light clutch pedal. All in all, it complements the turbo engine rather well.
Ride and Handling
As for the ride and handling, the steering is well-weighted and isn’t as light as older Hyundai models. Going two-and-half turns lock-to-lock, it is comfortable to manoeuvre with a smooth and progressive movement. The ride quality on the new Verna is also something that is noticeably better than its predecessor. We got to drive it on the newly inaugurated Delhi Mumbai Expressway and the Verna felt quick and rock solid at speeds of up to 120kmph. The only thing that puts us off is that at low speeds, the ride is a little bit on the firm side. It’s not uncomfortable or anything but it tends to feel fidgety over bumps and imperfections.
Design wise, the new Verna has no resemblance to the old Verna whatsoever. It’s fresh, it’s modern and to me, a very brave design that speaks of confidence that Hyundai has in its cars. This design may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I can assure you it will turn heads wherever you go. I am not sure if I am a fan of how the new Verna looks but I definitely appreciate how much it has grown with this new generation. Now I say that because the old model was starting to look like it was from a segment below ever since we have had the Skoda Slavia and the Volkswagen Virtus.
Now, the Verna is just as big as all its rivals. In fact, it’s the widest in its class and its wheelbase is the longest that you will find in a midsize sedan. For some perspective, the new Verna is 4.5meters long, making it nearly as long as the Slavia and the City. Now like I said, it’s the widest in its class and its 2,670mm wheelbase is the most generous amongst all midsize sedans. Lastly, the 205 section, 16-inch wheels on this Turbo model are comparable to the Slavia whereas the City gets narrower rubber.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
It’s not just claims and numbers honestly because from where I am seated, the Verna has taken a big leap forward when it comes to space. There is a lot more legroom, this rear seat feels more supportive and in general you will find that sense of airiness that was always missing in the old Verna. This is one of those rare times wherein a brand has taken note of their car’s major shortcoming and fixed it. The extended wheelbase has liberated a lot more room for the passengers, especially for those seated at the back.
The seat itself is set at a good height and you get a nice view out of the large side windows. Overall, the back seat is a rather comfortable place to be in and I have no complaints there. Moving further back, the boot capacity has also gone up. It’s now 528 litres which is 48-litres more than the old Verna. In fact, the Verna now has the biggest boot in its class, surpassing the City and the Slavia. When it comes to interior design, nothing in here will remind you of the old Verna. In fact, everything looks different, it looks nicer and in this Turbo model you get an old black cabin with red accents for the air vents and the seats. You can get a more traditional beige interior with the non Turbo models though I prefer this black and red theme. It goes really well with this car. What also works well is the driver-focused layout for the dash. The entire center console is tilted towards the driver and so is this 10.2-inch main display which predictably works well. It’s quick to respond, has a slick UI and it just works every time without lagging or anything.
Next to it is the digital instrument panel which has been taken from the Venue. In this top-spec SX Option Turbo variant you get a sporty looking black color theme with red accents, cooled and heated front seats, a new 10.25-inch infotainment system with an 8-speaker Bose audio system, leatherette electrically adjustable driver’s seat, front parking sensors, a manual rear curtain, cruise control, soft touch finish on certain panels, a sunroof, tire pressure monitoring system, six airbags and level 2 ADAS capability.
So what do we think of the new Verna? Well, it has certainly improved in a lot of areas. The rear seat is legitimately spacious now and the ADAS is effective without being too intrusive. The most impressive bit for me though is the engine and the performance that it delivers. Overall, I must say that the new Verna is a solid attempt at reviving the midsize sedan segment. After all, Hyundai themselves have said they had been averaging monthly sales of around 1,600 for the old Verna and given that they have gotten well over 10,000 bookings for this new model it’s a good indication of how the market is reacting to the resurgence of the good old midsize sedan.
Pictures by Kapil Angane