This Hyundai Verna that you see in the pictures isn’t a new-gen version of the 2018 ICOTY model. But one that’s been bestowed with a fresh design, outstanding novel features, and newer powertrain options, such as the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that we have here. With the surfacing of the crisp new Verna from the Korean carmaker, competition in the C-segment has heated up considerably. So is it worth your attention? Here’s the gist.
Differentiating this Verna from the outgoing model is the large glossy black grille with a distinctive matrix design that cascades on to the piercing headlamps that sport newer LED lighting elements. These are further complemented by the sharp angular ridges on the bumper and chin. In profile, the frantically sloping roofline coupled with the edgy 16-inch dual-tone wheels gives the Verna a fast-coupe stance. As for the rear, the tail lamps now have attractive internals. But it’s the bumper that excites the most with the mesh shapes that taper off on both ends, and the faux diffuser that’s aligned next to twin chrome exhaust tips. Phew, this Korean is chic!
Above all, the changes made to the updated Verna almost make the cabin look all-new. To start with, the all-digital instrument cluster has some serious upmarket flair about it. Similarly, this Turbo variant is enthusiastically wrapped in black materials, with red seams on the upholstery and bright red trim highlighting the redesigned air vents. Sadly though, the new cabin continues to get hard plastics.
Other than that, everything else is the same. As a reminder, space isn’t a concern in the Verna. Sprucing up the comfort levels in the front are cushy seats that hold you in place exceedingly well, they have my favourite cooling function and offer good support overall. My only grime being the lack of under-thigh support for taller occupants.
As for ingress at the rear, it isn’t devoid of some flexing (challenging for the elderly), but once seated, the well-cushioned bench is decently accommodating, with an appropriately angled backrest and just about enough legroom. Yet, limitations such as the shortage of under-thigh support and tight headroom plague it markedly.
Be that as it may, the deep boot can easily consume two large suitcases or a few medium-sized ones, with still more for some soft/shopping bags. In the features department, Hyundai’s BlueLink connected features are now available, along with a sunroof, six airbags, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Plus, there’s wireless charging, electric mirrors and windows, front/rear parking sensors, a rear camera, and an Arkamys player that sounds extremely well.
As a part of the update, Hyundai revamped the entire powertrain line-up of the Verna to take in the new 1.5-litre petrol and diesel, and the one that’s being reviewed here, the three-cylinder 118bhp/172Nm 1.0-litre Turbo GDi petrol engine that uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddle-shifts to power the front wheels. Thanks to pristine engineering, the only instance when one experiences the three-cylinder din is under full-bore acceleration.
Interestingly, this three-pot feels eager to let loose of its horses the minute one slots into D and releases the brakes. That’s because, with 172Nm of torque unleashed from just under 1,500rpm, it makes driving in the city extremely relaxed. Now, only feathering the throttle is required of you to keep the momentum flowing seamlessly. Again, as the needle crosses 2,000rpm, the motor feels more alive than ever as the turbo spools up purposefully to offer a linear performance delivery till the 6,500rpm redline.
Also adding to the effortless aura is the dual-clutch automatic gearbox which shifts gears, both up and down, smoothly and without any lags. Plus, it cleverly selects which gear to be put to use after being able to precisely read the throttle input. It’s almost always slotted in the correct gear, be it your intent to cruise or overtake swiftly. Nevertheless, we noted that this gearbox upshifts when closer to rev-limit, regardless of it being slotted in D or S mode. The latter mode may not shove you into the seat when you floor the accelerator pedal, but the response is certainly more entertaining, especially when you can take control of the gearshifts via the paddle-shifters.
Hyundai has tweaked the suspension setup in the Turbo variant to offer a taut ride quality with a controlled body-roll. At slow speeds, there is an underlying firmness due to which its occupants feel the atrocities of the road surface. But as expected, highway speeds make for better bump absorption, wherein undulations, irregularities, and even the edgier bumps are negotiated without a sweat and zilch suspension noise. Plus, it never scraped over any speed-breaker we put it through, which says a lot for a sedan. Likewise, its light steering is also direct (less than two-and-half turns from lock-to-lock), and unlike the Hyundais of yore, responds more progressively around the dead centre. Plus, it weighs up fittingly as the momentum rises. The outcome? Throwing this sedan spiritedly around bends will have a huge grin pasted on your face afterwards. With all these go-fast specials, it's only befitting of us to expect more bite from the brakes, but it wasn’t the case.
As a product, this Hyundai Verna scores quite well on all counts. For now, it’s offered in a single, fully-loaded SX (O) trim that retails at Rs 16.65 lakh (OTR Mumbai). In short, it looks exceedingly sharp, has a long list of features, is reasonably spacious, and offers a pliant ride. The only drawbacks being the tight rear headroom for tall occupants and some ingress discomfort. Both aren’t deal-breakers as such. What’s impressive is that it not only fits the bill as a comfortable family car but also doubles up as a driver’s car when you’re in the mood. All thanks to its formidable powertrain and smashing dynamics. Sorry ladies, but I can already tell that the men will jump at this proposition!
Pictures by Kapil Angane