Hyundai launched the heavily loaded new Verna at a price of 10.9 lakhs ex-India.
Hyundai has a historic legacy of introducing some of the most polarising designs in India, while designs were slightly conservative when we had the new Creta introduced to our shores, but seems like the Korean car maker went overboard with the Verna in terms of the aggressive styling cues, nevertheless, keeping the design critics aside, can the strong claims by Hyundai which associate the new Verna to double up the sales hold true? We drove the car on the newly laid Delhi-Mumbai expressway to find that out.
Hyundai elevated the sedan portfolio 2006 by launching the Verna. Though it lacked the fineness of its rivals, Hyundai was in no mood to give up. In 2011, Hyundai flattered the shoppers with its jaw-dropping fluidic design of the successor and Verna captured the market, big time! It was the original disruptor and now the all-new avatar is here to raise the bar further.
A brilliant overall package, esp the lovely 1.5 Turbo mated to either of the gearbox, sprints to glory on an expressway
+ Top notch quality of materials used, doesn’t feel diluted in any way, the stalks, plastics, etc
+ Typical Hyundai in features: ADAS L2, diverse charging options, front cam, ventilated/heated seats etc. Rear sunshades are lovely
+ Steering actually weighs up at triple digit speeds, so unlike Hyundai and this is a great thing to instil confidence
+ Superb practicality with enormous rear legroom, huge boot& multiple door pockets makes it feel like a D segment sedan more than a C segment car. Exactly whay Hyundai wanted
+ Good composition of ride and handling dynamics, miles ahead of the fluidic Verna in terms of handling. Ride is settled too
+ Very comfy rear seats by sedan standards, at par with the best and this will be a big + point
+ Upto 7 years of total warranty is just fantastic for the peace of mind, absolute-must if you are picking the turbo-DCT
– Extremely polarising front design, fainted memory of the last car which gathered such criticism, Hyundai could have played safe for a mass market car like this
– The acclaimed and ‘glorified’ 8 speaker music system is just mediocre to Bose standards, same issue as KIA
– lacks the punch in low frequencies (high bass). Have seen other cars without any fancy badges sound much, much better. Dilutes the Bose brand name too
– Absence of diesel mill is a disappointment for mile munchers. The 1.5 NA was displaying a mileage of 8-9 kmpl in the MID on expressway with ambitious throttle
– Weird variant and features’ matrix. NA gets paddle shifters which make less sense but misses out on crucial rear discs. Electric park brake and rear discs are omitted in turbo manual and are offered only in turbo DCT. Why though?
– At 21 lakhs on road BLR for the top spec, no electric height adjustment for driver seat, also misses out on the crowd-fav wireless auto and apple CarPlay which should have OTA update sometime, shockingly auto wipers too are omitted.
Blame it on the ambitious design team or the Korean car maker’s perspective to visualise India as one of the most matured car market, the Verna has a polarised design. Period. The front seems slightly more aggressive with a huge DRL running across the front fascia of the car. There’s a lot going on here. It is different alright and will stand out. The DRL lights up like a charm and executes it’s duty of enlightening the premium sedan with all the glitz and glam! The erstwhile Verna was notoriously known to have sub standard illumination from its projectors, to an extent that the consumers heavily relied on after-market headlights on their cars. The LEDs had a lot more responsibility on their shoulders this time, than just to do their job for the sake of it. Hyundais and modern tech are unparalleled, the ADAS sensors with all the available functions of the Tucson made it to occupy a strategic portion of real estate in neighbouring the front bumper. A bold, hexagonal grille bids farewell to the front elements.
While the prime competitor of the Verna, the new Honda City gets passenger side request sensors, the Korean competitor unfortunately misses out on it. The superb and striking alloys do compensate for the missing kit on the side profile. If you have seen the Ioniq 5 before, then the bold cuts and creases on this car will seem familiar.
Thankfully, the rear of the Verna seems rather tastefully done compared to the aggressive, on-your-face design of the front profile of the car. The connected tail lamps look very striking and LEDs barrelled inside the tail lamps are neatly tucked inside giving the rear of the car a rich and plush experience on the outside.
The 528 litres of boot space is considerate enough to let you stuff in 2 big bags with a couple of duffles on either sides of it, cozily nestling in the paddings of the boot. That said, Hyundai has seriously messed up the feature packaging for the variants as the turbo-DCT is the only variant to get the smart boot feature, another over-rated feature in modern cars that lets you open the boot of car by swiping your foot below the boot.
The two-spoke steering wheel looks just fine, and it’s absolutely nestled with controls possible for cruise control, volume, scroller, mode, phone, voice-activation, ADAS controls etc. The digital instrument cluster is crisp and easily readable but its too long in the tooth now and deserves a retirement or at least a differentiating form factors for such crucial products, the AC vents are integrated nicely into the dashboard, with an ambient lighting strip running across the plasticky dash. The 10.25-inch infotainment screen has all the features you would expect – Bluelink tech, (wired) Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – and the 8-speaker Bose audio system is just about average at best. Hyundai has seriously focussed on saving the pennys here and sourced the cheapest possible variant of Bose just for the sake of it. The climate control panel can also be switched to an infotainment one with the press of a button, which is a neat and first in segment feature. However, the AC seems to be a lot more refreshing than its counterparts, especially when you consider the tropical summers. Air purifier makes it too, just like in most of the cars we have seen from the Korean siblings. Yes, there’s also a sunroof, but it’s not panoramic. Not that every sunroof needs to be a panoramic though. The seats offer good amount of bolstering, and there’s generous amounts of leg and shoulder room too. Six airbags are standard. For the most part, this is a cabin that will go down well with most buyers.
The rear is where the Verna excels and Hyundai deserves all the praises in the World for this. Given the fact that good chunk of buyers would still prefer the rear bench over front, Hyundai decided to furnish this part of the car with all bells and whistles. More importantly, a seat that can take you from source to the destination in maximum comfort. The sweet leather wrapped seats hug you with their sheer opulence. Juicing up your smartphone should not be a concern as the type c charging ports will not disappoint you.
Tech and Safety
The Hyundai Verna offers Level 2 ADAS hardware. There’s the usual lane assist, front collision assist, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic assist, and high-beam assist. Except for the high-beam assist and adaptive cruise control, we got to sample the rest on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and the Verna came out with flying colours. However, we are not very optimistic about the Exter being loaded in terms of features to this extent.
Go heavy on the throttle, and the engine gets evidently vocal. The acceleration that follows isn’t brisk by any standard, but that’s not what this engine is meant for. It’s rather smooth and laidback and provides decent everyday usability. There are three drive modes here – Eco, Normal and Sport – altering the throttle response. I have never been a fan of the sport mode in these cars as they are seldom calibrated according to standards to churn out the most ideal performance. Eco is conservative and the normal mode offers the right blend of other driving modes.
As for the steering, it’s well-weighted and isn’t as light as older Hyundai models which is a huge welcoming change. It is comfortable to manoeuvre with a smooth and progressive movement. It need not be continuously worked with when driving, thus reducing the chances of fatigue. Gearshifts gelt just as adequate you would feel in a conventional AT gearbox. The lag is minimum, yet evident especially on the lower gears. That said, the non-DCT variant would account for most of the sales for this ferocious piece of metal and ninety percent of the buyers might just not bother to worry about the minimum cons of the way this car drives as Verna was never a contender at all for someone looking to drive enthusiastically.
Ride and Handling
A new suspension setup comprising of stiffer springs and dampers results in a pliant ride experience on the Verna. Considering the fact that good prospect of the audience will be looking forward to this, it should aid as a feather in the cap for car and its value proposition. At high speeds too, this makes the car feel stable and well-planted. The newly constructed expressway opened avenues to push the car to its tolerant limits and needless to say the high speed dynamics clearly drifted away from being badged as a Hyundai, in a nicer way. The previous generation was a comfortable to drive but the soft suspension led to high front-end dive and you’d often end up scraping the front bumper across speed breakers or entry ramps. That is thankfully not the case any longer and this will be largely appreciated by owners, especially in Bengaluru which is home to the widest array of unscientific speed breakers.
Can the Hyundai Verna sell twice as much as before as claimed by Hyundai? It is a very impressive sedan and worth every rupee at the current pricing. It’s better than everything else available in the sedan shopping space. So if your heart craves for a sedan, then the Verna is easily the best choice. Not that the Hyundai Verna is going to be the ultimate choice of arsenal for petrolheads in the country, but the fact that its a solid proposition in the form of jack of all and master of none, makes it one of the most desirable choices out there. That said, I would have really appreciated had Hyundai gone slightly timid with respect to the audacious design language, owing to the fact that this car is going to play a pivotal role in the arsenal of the Korean carmaker in India. As the saying goes, if you don’t look back at the car after buying it, you have bought a wrong car. Wouldn’t be surprising if the consumers decide to give it a miss after parking it in their garage.