The timing of the Verna Fluid couldn’t have been more important. It’s the car that represents the new Hyundai, a confident and bold manufacturer ready to take on the world. It’s almost as if Hyundai is rediscovering itself again. Maruti Suzuki did it with the Swift and the results are there for everyone to see. The new Verna is an important car for Hyundai and replicating the Swift story won’t do the manufacturer any harm. The Verna is a result of Hyundai ’s newfound design mojo and with prices starting from Rs7,12,822 to Rs9,83,338 for the petrol variant and Rs8,25,037 to Rs10,95,542 for the diesel variant ex-showroom New Delhi, has Hyundai done enough to keep the competition at bay?
Hyundais are sensible and great value cars, but great looking cars they are not. The earlier Verna, the Santro and the current Sonata are all a case in point. With the new Verna, Hyundai wants to correct this perception. Internationally the Verna is the new Accent but since in India most manufacturers adopt the policy of not replacing models, the first generation Accent (internationally the second generation) and the Verna are being sold together. The previous generation Verna though has being replaced.
A good looking Hyundai is as uncommon as elephants in the Sahara but the Verna Fluid is an exception to that and it is by far the best looking car in its segment. The Verna is built on an all-new platform and its wheelbase is 70mm longer than the outgoing version and it’s longer than both the Honda City and the Volkswagen Vento. Hyundai’s new fluidic design theme does the trick for the Verna. First up you notice the large and detailed headlights that sweep back into the body and the lines on the centre of the bonnet add muscle to the front. But the bit that we liked the most are the ‘L’-shaped fog lights which sit neatly low down in the front bumper. The rising shoulder line looks good and from the side too the Verna looks fantastic with the swooping line that rises from the front bumper and then runs across the doors right till the tail-light. The Verna has a coupe-like look with the way the C pillar falls into the boot. The chrome-tipped twin tailpipes are definitely a hit and at the rear there is the same sense of mixture of design elements as the front. The profile of the Verna is visually appealing and it’s forward lunging stance makes it look dynamic. Overall it’s a design that will make headlines and turn heads everywhere.
The fluid design styling continues inside. The dashboard flows into the centre console and the controls are simple and ergonomic are good. The sweeping dashboard, the door pads, white backlighting for the dials, fabrics and plastic, all mark a step up from the previous model. The steering wheel is borrowed from the i20 and goes well with the dashboard layout. There is reasonable storage space but not as much as in some of its competitors. The interior quality and workmanship is good and there aren’t any issues with the fit and finish. The interiors feel up-market and more airy than before but the quality of materials aren’t as premium as the VW Vento.
You instantly get this sense of roominess because of the 2570mm wheelbase and there is sufficient legroom for both front and rear passengers. The flat floor at the rear makes it easier for three occupants and for a car that competes with the Honda City and the VW Vento the Verna certainly feels roomy.
The highlight about the interiors is the extensive feature list and with the 1.6-litre variants you get keyless entry, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, steering mounted audio controls, an iPod-ready music system, and rear disc brakes. On top of all this, the SX trim level comes with electrically foldable out-side rear view mirrors, a reverse camera, cooled glovebox and alloy wheels. The top-of-the line SX optional variant gets ABS with EBD and leather upholstery. The 1.4 variants come without ABS, airbags, rear disc brakes and fog lamps.
Engine and performance
The new Verna gets a massive engine range. Four to be precise. A 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre Gamma petrol and similar spec U-II diesel.
The 1.6-litre common-rail VGT aided diesel engine develops a class-leading 128PS@4000rpm and a massive 259Nm of max torque between 1900 to 2750rpm. However these figures don’t make the Verna a sub 10second diesel rocket and100kmph is only reached in under 11seconds. This however is good enough to beat the Vento and the SX4. The tall gearing aids fuel efficiency but blunts outright performance. Power delivery however is linear and power builds up in a gentle surge (unlike the outgoing model) and the Verna boasts a strong powerband which gives it excellent drivability. You don’t experience any major turbo lag and this is a versatile motor. There is an option between a 6-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The manual gearbox is smooth and precise and the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency figure of 22kmpl further sweetens the deal.
The 1.4-litre CRDI engine is the same as the i20 and produces 90PS@4000rpm and 220Nm of torque from 1750 to2750rpm. This is a flexible engine with a strong midrange and at lower revs too there is adequate torque and you don’t feel the need to keep on working with the 6-speed manual gearbox. There is diesel clatter but this is a refined engine and while the performance of the smaller 1.4 engine isn’t as strong as the 1.6 engine, it is good enough for both the city and the highway. With an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 23.50kmpl, the 1.4-litre CRDI engine is the most fuel efficient diesel sedan in its segment.
Like the diesel, the 1.6-litre petrol is also all new. The Gamma series engine is refined and produces 123PS@6300 rpm with 259Nm of torque @1900-2750rpm, making this the most powerful car in its class. 100kmph is completed in under 12seconds and while this is not a slow time we expected more from this twin overhead cam, variable valve timing engine. A strong engine trait though is the linear power delivery and strong midrange and top end. The engine remains smooth at high revs and it wouldn’t be completely wrong to suggest that the engine is almost Japanese in its behaviour. You get an option of a 5-speed automatic and manual gearbox and the Verna delivers an ARAI claimed 17kmpl.
The 1.4 petrol develops 108PS at 6300rpm and 135Nm of torque at 5000rpm. While the performance isn’t its strong point, it is a refined and relaxed engine. There is only an option of a 5-speed manual gearbox and the 1.4-litre engine has an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 17.5kmpl.
The Verna has the standard MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion bar at the rear suspension setup. The damping is soft side and works extremely well on rough roads plus results in good ride quality. Passenger comfort is high and ride quality is probably best in class with noise suppression inside the cabin so good that the engine is barely audible. The suspension damping is typically Hyundai and the Verna glides over large potholes and the suspension doesn’t crash.
For city driving you’ll love the Verna’s electrically powered steering. It’s light and perfect for negotiating the crowded streets. For more enthusiastic style of driving the steering feels dead and offers absolutely no feedback and you feel disconnected. Sharp steering inputs at high speeds feel dangerous and the soft suspension generates body roll. The powerful diesel engine also results in a little torque steer. Straight-line stability too isn’t as good as the Vento or the City. Cornering is tidy but this is no Ford Fiesta and the Verna doesn’t corner flat suggesting the suspension isn’t setup for enthusiastic driving. However, there is ample grip from the wide 195/55-R16 Bridgestone tyres.
The current leader is the Volkswagen Vento with its class leading build quality, German sophistication, ride and handling and refined engines. Honda has reduced the prices of the City to generate interest and the City’s petrol engine is still the best in the segment. Ride and handling is pretty good as well. The Maruti Suzuki SX4 offers refined torquey engines, its ride and handling too is good and you get low cost of maintenance associated with Maruti Suzuki. Ford has launched the new Fiesta which offers best in class ride and handling, styling is only second to the Verna and the engines are refined and not short on performance. The Chevrolet Optra is also in the same segment.
The Verna is definitely the best styled of the lot and the styling alone is reason enough for you to consider it. It rides well, interior space is good for five passengers and it comes with the most exhaustive feature list in the segment. These are definitely enough reasons for you to buy the Verna but this is no car for enthusiasts, the interiors quality too isn’t as good as its competitors and you get an uninvolving driving experience. But most buyers in this segment aren’t too bothered with that, what will definitely attract buyers are the four engine powertrains which are refined with a strong punch in their performance.
Quotes from other reviews:
‘While enthusiasts may not take well to the Verna’s floppy high speed ride and uninvolving driving experience, these are secondary considerations to typical buyers in this segment. What you get is smashing styling and really well designed and comfortable interiors’.
‘For everything that the old Verna had, the one thing it patently did not was style (made even worse by the end of life face-lift) and that’s the most radical departure on the new car. No longer will the term ‘Korean cars’ be applied in a derogatory way; the new Verna exorcises the ghosts of the past by donning properly appealing and genuinely stylish sheet metal’.