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2017 Hyundai Verna review, road test

31st Oct 2017 6:00 am

We tested all versions of the latest Verna to tell you all there is to know about Hyundai’s new Honda City and Maruti Ciaz challenger.


  • Make : Hyundai
  • Model : Verna

To say the new Hyundai Verna received a warm welcome in India would be an understatement. In its first full month of sales, Hyundai’s latest mid-size sedan managed to outsell chief rivals, the Maruti Ciaz and the Honda City, with over 6,000 cars going home to ‘early adopters’. Competitive pricing (Rs 7.99-12.62 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi) has helped the Verna’s case but Hyundai has also made sure that it has a Verna for every sort of mid-size sedan buyer. While the cheaper 1.4-litre versions haven’t made it to the new car, on offer are 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engine options, each with the choice of manual and automatic gearboxes. We’ve tested all four versions of the car to see if it delivers the goods to sustain this initial hype.

See the new Verna in passing and chances are you’ll mistake it for the Elantra. Yes, the details are different and there is a visible difference in size too, but the Verna’s basic silhouette and design do make it appear very Elantra-like. And like the Elantra, the new Verna’s styling conforms to Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, so the look isn’t as flamboyant as the last-gen Verna’s, but this is a handsome car nonetheless. As on all new Hyundais, the centrepiece up front is the ‘cascading grille’ that does appear a bit large on the Verna but it helps add visual width to the car. Upswept headlamps and the shapely bumper, with chrome surrounds for the fog lamps, add distinction and definition to the front. The familiar glasshouse and neatly arced roof do link the new Verna to the last one but you won’t find any glitzy cuts or creases on the sides of this one. Rather, embellishments come in the form of chrome door handles and chrome piping at the window line. Sadly, the new Verna looks a bit ungainly when viewed from the rear three-quarter angle. The rear bumper that is shaped to aid air flow is bulky and even makes the top-spec Verna’s smart 16-inch wheels appear smaller than they are. However, the sleek tail-lamps add elegance to the look and are majestic with their LED elements lit.

Last gen to current gen, the Verna has grown 65mm in length and also sits on a 30mm longer wheelbase. Interestingly, the new Verna is identical in length and wheelbase to the Honda City. And note that the similarities to the Elantra are not just skin deep. The Elantra’s sophisticated K2 platform also forms the basis for the new Verna. Structural rigidity is significantly up on the old Verna, with 50 percent (up from 13 percent) of the body shell made from light and stiff advanced high-strength steels. The cross members have also been strengthened to increase energy absorption in the event of a side impact. Hyundai has also worked to keep outside noise where it belongs and the engine mounts have been optimised to this end – there’s an insulator in the transmission tunnel and more noise absorbing materials have been employed in the region of the doors. And while the new Verna continues with an electric power steering and the familiar independent MacPherson struts up front and a non-independent, torsion beam rear suspension layout, Hyundai has revamped the entire setup for better comfort and driving dynamics.

That the new Verna is stiffer and better built than its predecessor becomes obvious the moment you shut the doors. The old Verna’s hollow sound on door shut has made way for a reassuring, and even, European car-like thunk. Those behind the wheel will also find the cabin a neat and user-friendly place to be in. The dash’s low sill allows a good view out, the centre console is usefully angled, if ever-so-slightly, towards the driver, the infotainment system is placed high up and within easy reach and all buttons and controls are logically positioned too. The whole look and feel of the dual-tone cabin is properly Hyundai. It’s just that, while the dash is smart and quality is consistently good, at some level it all feels a bit too familiar and not ‘new’ enough so to speak. Perhaps the use of soft-touch plastics on the dash would have helped elevate the Verna’s cabin to the next level.

You sit reasonably low in the Verna but, thankfully, the driver’s seat-height adjust moves the entire seat rather than merely change the angle of the seat base as in the last Verna. The front seats are shapely and well-finished but aren’t the largest around, and some may also find cushioning a bit soft in the lower back region. The rear seat is an improvement over the old Verna’s, with extra cushioning and more support, but the low seating position is far from ideal and also makes ingress-egress that little bit harder. Rear legroom is better, again when compared to the old Verna, but isn’t particularly generous by modern-day class standards. This is not the widest of cabins either, so fitting in three passengers will be a squeeze and anyone taller than average will also find headroom at the back limited. Frankly speaking, there are compact sedans that offer a comfier back-seat experience, let alone the far roomier City and Ciaz.

Irrespective of where you may be seated, the Verna offers plenty of space for smaller items. Each door gets a 1-litre bottle holder, the centre armrest flips open to reveal a storage bay, there are cupholders near the gear lever and on the fold-down centre rear armrest, and the cooled glovebox is also usefully large. Oddly though, the recess at the base of the centre console – in the vicinity of the 12V charging socket, USB charging port, and the USB and aux-in inputs – isn’t large enough for smartphones over 5.5 inches. What is nice, though, is that rear-seat occupants get a dedicated USB charging port.

On airport runs, you’ll find the Verna’s well-finished 480-litre boot accommodating but the loading lip is a touch too high.

The new Verna carries forward the four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines from the old model, though, they have been suitably tweaked for use here and also see revisions in their power and torque outputs. The dual variable valve timing-equipped petrol engine, for one, makes the same 123hp of max power as before but now does so at 6,400rpm rather than the earlier Verna’s 6,300rpm. And where the engine developed its 155Nm of max torque at 4,200rpm in the old Verna, it makes a marginally lesser 151Nm at a later 4,850rpm in the new car. Hyundai has also enhanced the engine’s low-end pulling power to ease drivability. At 1,500rpm, the engine makes 130Nm as opposed to 121Nm in the older car.

The revamped power delivery characteristics, as well as the adoption of a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the old five-speeder, have had a measureable effect on performance. The new Verna petrol manual is not only quicker than the old car in flat-out acceleration and through the gears, but is actually the quickest
of its peers in gears four and five, and all but matches the surprisingly brisk Maruti Ciaz in the third gear slog too. There’s a new-found flexibility to the engine, which is a boon in town and allows you to ◊
∆ get by driving in a higher gear without much protest from the car. And it’s not that the pleasant gearbox or the light (if slightly springy) clutch are bothersome to use either, refinement levels are
also excellent at low revs so you’d just find yourself upshifting early by default. At times when you do hold on to the gear, the engine will rev cleanly to 5,000rpm, after which it takes its time to get to the 6,500rpm limiter. That Honda City VTEC-like manic top-end rush is, unfortunately, missing.

Compared to the manual, the petrol automatic is quite different in character. It’s nice and well-mannered when you are ambling around town, but so much as hint at the need for more performance and, with a dab on the throttle, the six-speed torque converter automatic will respond readily, if a bit over enthusiastically, with a downshift and sometimes even two. Unlike typical new-age autos that are tuned to keep revs low for best efficiency, the Verna’s unit keeps revs around the 2,000rpm mark. While that gets you instantaneous responses from the engine, you also hear more of the otherwise quiet engine and get the feeling that the gearbox is perpetually in a sort of ‘Sport’ mode setting. You can take manual control via the gear lever to get the gearbox to behave as per your liking and it’s nice how responsive the system is.

If you happen to be a high-mileage user, it’s the diesel Vernas that will be of greater interest to you. The 1.6-litre variable geometry turbo-diesel continues to top the segment for power (128hp) and torque (260Nm) but the crucial difference is that max torque is now available at a more accessible 1,500-3,000rpm, as opposed to the narrower 1,900-2,750rpm band in the last Verna. Also interesting is the fact that the six-speed manual gearbox runs shorter third and fourth gears here.

We expected the new Verna diesel to be quicker than the old one and it is. The new Verna’s 0-100kph time of 9.32sec betters the old car’s class-best figure by 0.4sec, but what’s more telling is the improvement in in-gear acceleration. The new Verna is not mere milliseconds but full seconds quicker than the old car in benchmark roll-on times! 20-80kph in third gear takes 9.87sec to the old car’s time of 12.17sec, while 40-100kph in fourth gear takes 11.88sec to the old car’s 15.25sec time. Shorter gear ratios aside, the difference in performance is also down to how the updated engine produces its power. Where the old version of the engine bunched up its power for release after 1,800rpm or so, you get to the best of what the new version has to offer far earlier on. A Skoda Rapid or Volkswagen Vento diesel is quicker still in the gears, but where power from the VW TDI engine comes in a rush, the build of power is smooth and linear in the Verna. The Hyundai unit is responsive and likeable, and what makes it more likeable still is the high level of refinement. Sure, there is an audible clatter at middle revs but the sound seems relatively distant and is nowhere near as gruff or as loud as that emitted by other diesels in this segment. Noise levels do increase significantly as you extend the engine, but given the ready power on offer you’ll seldom feel the need to explore the top-end of the rev range. Once again, gearshifts on the six-speed manual gearbox are nice and the clutch, though springy, has a progressive action.

The other Verna diesel is the automatic and its six-speed torque converter ’box too is well in tune with the characteristics of the engine. It effects gear changes in a timely manner, is quick to adapt to changes in driving style and is also responsive to manual inputs via the gear lever. Performance is strong too, with kickdown acceleration at par with the dual-clutch gearbox-equipped versions of the diesel Vento and Rapid.

You need to first have a go in the last-gen Verna to understand just how big a leap forward the new model has taken in terms of ride and handling. For starters, gone is the old car’s borderline scary, disconnected feel at highway speeds. What the stiff new Verna offers instead is a far more settled experience. It doesn’t move around half as much as the old car did and drives with a confidence and poise that was altogether missing then. There’s less vertical movement and even the odd bump taken at speed doesn’t ruffle the car as much. Further, the excellent road and wind noise insulation helps camouflage speeds; so on open roads you’ll have to keep an eye on the speedo to make sure you aren’t driving faster than you intended to.

That said, not all Vernas are alike. The heavier diesel models offer better body control than the lighter petrols. Our petrol manual test car felt the least sure-footed of the lot but was still a country mile better than its floppy predecessor. The new Verna also brakes better. The pedal feel is good, stability under braking is impressive and braking performance is among the best in the class. However, should you find yourself in a panic-braking scenario, don’t be alarmed by judders at the pedal, as it’s the ABS at work and it’s tuned to kick in very early. 

On twisty roads, you’ll like the grip the Verna has to offer and the fact that it changes direction without much fuss. It’s just that the steering isn’t rich in feel and, on changing radius turns, the inconsistent way it weights up leaves you unsure of exactly how much lock to give. Sure, there’s less of that looseness in the steering and body even, but a Ford Fiesta (RIP) this is not. The lightness at the Verna’s steering does equate to less effort at parking speeds though. 

If not for its handling, you’ll like the Verna for the way it tackles our pockmarked roads at typical city speeds. Nothing comes jarring through to the cabin and the suspension always does its work quietly. The Verna can’t completely arrest small ripples on the road surface but it doesn’t unduly bob or pitch either.

The Verna petrol manual delivered a par for the course at 9.2kpl in town and 13.5kpl on the highway. As expected, the petrol auto proved quite thirsty in town with a figure of 8.5kpl, though highway economy improved to a reasonable 12.3kpl. The diesel automatic did well for itself with city and highway figures of 13.3 and 16.4kpl, respectively. However, it’s the Verna diesel manual that stands out for its efficiency. It registered 14.2kpl in town and 18.5kpl on the highway, making it among the most fuel-efficient diesel mid-size sedans on sale. 

The Verna’s 7.0-inch touchscreen is the best unit in the class. Period. Its screen is responsive to touch inputs and the interface is easy to navigate through. A standout feature is split-screen mode that allows you to access functions such as the radio without the need to minimise the live satnav map. There’s also Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, and voice commands as well. Also impressive is sound quality from the four-speaker, two-tweeter setup. Using the onboard Arkamys Sound tuner, you can really get the best out of your music.

Linked In
Hyundai’s unique Auto Link comprises a module that connects to the car’s OBD port and relays live telemetry to a linked smartphone via Bluetooth. You can see vehicle speed, engine speed and engine load in real time and there’s also an on-board diagnostics function that checks vehicle health and will put you in touch with a service centre should it detect an issue. An Eco score also rates the driver for smoothness and efficiency. It’s quite the tool for data-savvy owners. 

The manual Vernas are offered in four variants, while the automatic versions are available in two. It’s worth highlighting, however, that the diesel automatic is the only version of the Verna that isn’t sold in full-spec SX (O) trim. Rather, the diesel auto range tops off in unique SX+ trim that misses some features.

As standard, the Verna gets dual front airbags, Isofix child seat mounts on the rear seats and anti-lock brakes, while the SX (O) variants see the addition of side and curtain airbags too. While reach adjust for the steering, LED headlights and auto wipers are not on the equipment list, fully loaded Vernas come with most of what you’d expect – leatherette seats, a touchscreen infotainment system, a rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, cruise control, keyless entry and go, auto climate control, rear air con vents and a comprehensive multi-info display, to name a few. And then there’s more. The Verna gets class-first ventilated front seats that work really well to keep you cool on hot days, while a manually retractable sunscreen for the rear windscreen also comes handy when the sun is out in full force. An electric sunroof is also onboard and Hyundai has also given the Verna a hands-free boot release. Stand by the boot for 3sec, with the key in your pocket, and the trunk will open on its own; handy when both of you have packets in both hands. Also unique is Hyundai’s Auto Link that relays your car’s health and more straight to your smartphone.

Judged against the old Verna, the new model comes across as a far superior product. It’s better built, even more refined and comes packed with the latest of goodies, and then some. Hyundai has also done well to (largely) address the old Verna’s wayward handling, making the new car better to drive and, by extension, a more wholesome package. Also, petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, you won’t be left wanting for the way the Verna performs. 

There isn’t much to complain about really, but if there’s an area where the Verna underwhelms, it’s the rear-seat experience. It is significantly down on space when compared to rivals like the City and the Ciaz, to the extent that it could be a deal-breaker for many, particularly chauffeur-driven buyers. Had Hyundai managed to eke out more room in the back, the Verna, seen as a whole, would have simply been hard to fault. As is, the new Verna makes for a great mid-size sedan but not a perfect one. 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 7.99 - 11.35 lakh lakh Rs 10.49 - 12.49 lakh Rs 9.43 - 12.69 lakh Rs 11.68 - 12.87 lakh -
Warranty 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km 3 years/unlimited km -
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol Petrol Diesel Diesel -
Engine Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse -
Type 4 cyls 4 cyls 4 cyls 4 cyls -
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1591cc 1591cc 1582cc 1582cc -
Bore/Stroke (mm) 77.2/85.44mm 77.2/85.44mm 77.2/84.5mm 77.2/84.5mm -
Compression Ratio 10.5:1 10.5:1 16.0:1 16.0:1 -
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC -
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 123hp at 6400rpm 123hp at 6400rpm 128hp at 4000rpm 128hp at 4000rpm -
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 151Nm at 4850rpm 151Nm at 4850rpm 260Nm at 1500-3000rpm 260Nm at 1500-3000rpm -
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 107.61hp/tonne 104.68hp/tonne 104.23hp/tonne 101.99hp per tonne -
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 132.10Nm/tonne 128.51Nm/tonne 211.72Nm/tonne 207.17Nm/tonne -
Specific Output (hp/litre) 77.30hp per litre 77.30hp per litre 80.91hp per litre 80.91hp per litre -
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive -
Gearbox Type Manual Automatic Manual Automatic -
No of Gears 6 6 6 6 -
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 3.769/7.208 4.400/7.622 3.636/8.420 4.212/9.337 -
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 2.045/13.28 2.726/12.30 1.962/15.60 2.637/14.91 -
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.370/19.83 1.834/18.28 1.257/24.35 1.800/21.84 -
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.036/26.22 1.392/24.09 0.905/33.82 1.386/28.37 -
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.839/32.38 1.000/33.53 0.702/43.61 1.000/39.32 -
6th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.703/38.64 0.774/43.33 0.596/51.36 0.772/50.94 -
Final Drive Ratio 4.176:1 3.383:1 3.706:1 2.885:1 -
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 2.28s, 25.90m 2.25s, 24.92m 2.26s, 25.29m 2.41s,26.69m -
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 8.6kpl 8.5kpl 14.2kpl 13.3kpl -
Highway (kpl) 13.5kpl 12.3kpl 18.5kpl 16.4kpl -
Tank size (lts) 45 litres 45 litres 45 litres 45 litres -
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.51s 0.48s 0.48s 0.55s -
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.09s 1.28s 0.96s 1.05s -
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.89s 2.13s 1.54s 1.57s -
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.68s 2.99s 2.33s 2.45s -
0 - 50 kph (sec) 3.78s 4.04s 3.06s 3.40s -
0 - 60 kph (sec) 4.84s 5.24s 3.93s 4.39s -
0 - 70 kph (sec) 6.12s 6.55s 4.94s 5.89s -
0 - 80 kph (sec) 7.47s 8.18s 6.44s 7.26s -
0 - 90 kph (sec) 9.07s 10.06s 7.78s 9.02s -
0 - 100 kph (sec) 11.18s 12.20s 9.32s 10.89s -
0 - 110 kph (sec) 13.30s 14.44s 11.17s 12.83s -
0 - 120 kph (sec) 15.67s 17.08s 13.29s 15.21s -
0 - 130 kph (sec) 18.59s 20.67s 15.56s 17.87s -
0 - 140 kph (sec) 22.21s 24.67s 18.29s 20.90s -
1/4 mile (sec) 17.99s 18.58s 16.91s 17.67s -
20-80kph (sec) 11.71s 6.71s 9.87s 6.55s -
40-100kph (sec) 15.56s 9.25s 11.88s 8.47s -
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
1st (kph @rpm) 47kph at 6500rpm 47kph at 6200rpm 43kph at 5100rpm 37kph at 4000rpm -
2nd (kph @rpm) 87kph at 6500rpm 77kph at 6300rpm 81kph at 5200rpm 60kph at 4000rpm -
3rd (kph @rpm) 131kph at 6600rpm 115kph at 6300rpm 125kph at 5100rpm 87kph at 4000rpm -
4th (kph @rpm) 173kph at 6600rpm 157kph at 6500rpm 164kph at 4800rpm 118kph at 4200rpm -
5th (kph @rpm) 193kph at 6000rpm 198kph at 5500rpm 191kph at 4400rpm 165kph at 4200rpm -
6th (kph @rpm) 190kph at 4900rpm 189kph at 4400rpm 196kph at 3800rpm 182kph at 3600rpm -
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Idle (dB) 37.7dB 36.6dB 41.9dB 44.3dB -
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 52.1dB 53.1dB 52.8dB 52.1dB -
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 65.2dB 68.1dB 68.2dB 68.9dB -
50 kph AC off (dB) 58.4dB 59.3dB 58.6dB 60.7dB -
80 kph AC off (dB) 64.1dB 64.3dB 63.1dB 62.7Db -
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque Four-door sedan, monocoque -
Weight (kg) 1143kg 1175kg 1228kg 1255kg -
Front Tyre 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 -
Rear Tyre 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 195/55 R16 -
Spare Tyre 185/65 R15, steel rim 185/65 R15, steel rim 185/65 R15, steel rim 185/65 R15, steel rim -
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs Independent, McPherson struts, coil springs -
Rear Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs -
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion -
Type of power assist Electric Electric Electric Electric -
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 10.36m 10.36m 10.36m 10.36m -
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Discs Discs Discs Discs -
Rear Drums Drums Drums Drums -
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 4440mm 4440mm 4440mm 4440mm -
Width (mm) 1729mm 1729mm 1729mm 1729mm -
Height 1475mm 1475mm 1475mm 1475mm -
Wheel base 2600mm 2600mm 2600mm 2600mm -
Front Track (mm) 1510mm 1510mm 1510mm 1510mm -
Rear Track (mm) 1517mm 1517mm 1517mm 1517mm -
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1370mm 1370mm 1370mm 1370mm -
Ground Clearance (mm) 165mm 165mm 165mm 165mm -
Boot Capacity (Lts) 480 litres 480 litres 480 litres 480 litres -
2017 Hyundai Verna review, road test
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