1 / 0
Rating 8 8

Hyundai Verna

6th Jun 2011 7:00 am

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

  • Make : Hyundai
  • Model : Verna


If your driving is restricted to the city, you’ll love the Verna’s electrically powered steering. It is light and just what the doctor ordered for effortless scything through crowded urban streets and squeezing into tight parking spots. Drive faster than city speeds and the story becomes quite different. There is an irritating dead zone at the straight-ahead position and a disconcerting inconsistency in the way the steering weights up. So what you get is a rather disconnected driving experience with little feedback from the road. Hard acceleration also brings about some torque steer on the diesel Verna.
 
Given India’s roads, ride quality can make or break (literally too) a car. The good news is that the Verna delivers on this front. Low speed ride is good with the softly set-up suspension ably absorbing all but the largest potholes. There is, however, a fair amount of vertical movement on the petrol Verna especially at the rear, this bobbing only amplifying with speed. The diesel’s stiffer front springs (to carry the additional weight of the engine) do their bit in delivering a flatter high speed ride. The added weight up front also allows the steering to weight up better.

High speed bumps also tend to unsettle the Verna a fair amount and call for a steady hand on the steering wheel. Straightline stability is average and not quite as reassuring as it should be. The Verna’s ride-oriented soft suspension has also invariably dulled driving dynamics. Cornering manners are tidy but this is no Ford Fiesta. The body rolls quite a bit and, given the vague feel at the wheel, does not bode well for really enthusiastic driving. However, there is ample grip from the oversized 195/55-R16 Bridgestones when such an occasion does arise.

The Verna comes with disc brakes all around and the top-end model we tested is equipped with ABS and EBD as well. Sadly, the brake pedal is devoid of much feel in the crucial first few centimetres of travel. Also, in panic stops, the soft rear struggles to hold its line and threatens to step out. This can get unnerving if you are not used to it.

The latest Verna looks nothing like its predecessor and that’s a good thing. Out go the mundane lines of the older car and in comes a fresh, bold new look thanks to Hyundai’s new ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language. Fluidic Sculpture is Hyundai-speak for a more dynamic design. Up front, there is a strong family resemblance to the freshly face-lifted i10 in the manner in which the large and smartly detailed headlights sweep back into the body.  A ‘V’ on the bonnet that originates just above the hexagonal Hyundai grille adds much muscle to the front. But what really catches your eye is the ‘L’-shaped foglights that sit neatly recessed low down in the front bumper. They look distinctive and are especially attractive at night. Viewed side-on, the Verna looks fantastic, credit for which goes to its swooping character line that rises from the front bumper, slashes past both door handles and extends right till the tail-light. The coupe-like roofline that flows into the chunky tail only adds to the effect. Well executed creases at the rear and spread-out tail-lights further embellish the Verna’s style quotient. And the twin tailpipes will definitely be a hit with enthusiasts.   

The new Verna is built on a completely new platform with its 2570mm wheelbase a whole 70mm larger than the older car. Another big change is the electrically powered steering that comes in place of the outgoing model’s hydraulic unit. However, the suspension layout is traditional, a combination of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear.

Hyundai has really upped the quality ante in the recent past and the Verna is no exception with reasonably tight panel gaps and a paint job that has a deeper gloss than before. However, it still doesn’t exude that feeling of solidity of a European car like the Fiat Linea and the door shut has a disappointingly hollow feel to it. Perhaps it’s because the Verna is on the lighter side. Despite all the equipment that’s packed into it, the 1.6 diesel Verna tips the scales at 1191kg, its 1.6-litre petrol engine sibling weighing 120kg less. This compares well with the competition for this class of car. 

Going by the new Verna’s adventurous exterior styling, you’d expect something equally funky on the inside as well. There is some disappointment here as Hyundai has played it safe with a rather conventional design. The shield-like fascia though does look quite appealing. Beige is the colour of choice for the seats and lower portion of the dashboard and this really enhances the ambience in the car.

Interior quality is impressive and is a big improvement over the previous model. We really liked the textured dashboard, the damped feel to the AC vents, knurled finish on the climate control dials and the chunky steering (borrowed from the i20). Plastic quality is good but not consistent throughout the cabin. The power window switches look like they belong to a segment below and the faux wood on the dash doesn’t look convincing either. The door armrests are also poorly finished and the fit on panels near the footwells could be better too. But overall, the Verna exudes a richness that makes the insides a nice place to be.

There is reasonable space for knickknacks including a sunglasses holder near the rearview mirror. But the door pockets are shallow and not really suitable for holding more than a few newspapers at best. There is also a bottle- and cupholder beside the handbrake that comes positioned a touch too close to the driver’s seat.   

Frontal visibility from the driver’s seat is good but  the sloping rear windscreen and high rear passenger headrests hamper visibility out the back. The front seats themselves are well bolstered with ample support for your back. If we had a grouse with these seats, it’s with the short squabs and a general lack of under-thigh support. But this is more of an issue at the rear which, along with just about average headroom and restricted visibility out of the rear window (a side effect of the Verna’s high belt line), mark down the Verna as a chauffeur-driven car.

Passengers will also have to slightly contend with the Verna’s low stance – getting in and out could be an issue for some. The generous width and flat floor offer enough space for a fifth passenger but the seat contours make the rear bench best for two. Earning back brownie points is the generous legroom at the rear and a nicely angled backrest.
The Verna’s 465-litre, well-finished boot is generously trimmed and offers more than adequate space for large suitcases. The trouble is the loading lip which has a narrow aperture and is quite high.

Take one look at the equipment list on offer on the 1.6-litre Vernas and you could mistake it for a car in a higher class. You get keyless entry, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, an iPod-ready music system and steering-mounted audio controls. And we’re talking base models here. The higher SX trim level comes with even more goodies like electrically foldable external rearview mirrors, an automatically dimming internal rearview mirror, a reverse camera, cooled glovebox and alloy wheels. The top-of-the line SX (O) variant gets ABS with EBD and leather upholstery in addition to the above. Phew. The automatic variant (on offer with either 1.6 engines) will only be sold in top spec, making it the most expensive car in the range. 

 


If your driving is restricted to the city, you’ll love the Verna’s electrically powered steering. It is light and just what the doctor ordered for effortless scything through crowded urban streets and squeezing into tight parking spots. Drive faster than city speeds and the story becomes quite different. There is an irritating dead zone at the straight-ahead position and a disconcerting inconsistency in the way the steering weights up. So what you get is a rather disconnected driving experience with little feedback from the road. Hard acceleration also brings about some torque steer on the diesel Verna.
 
Given India’s roads, ride quality can make or break (literally too) a car. The good news is that the Verna delivers on this front. Low speed ride is good with the softly set-up suspension ably absorbing all but the largest potholes. There is, however, a fair amount of vertical movement on the petrol Verna especially at the rear, this bobbing only amplifying with speed. The diesel’s stiffer front springs (to carry the additional weight of the engine) do their bit in delivering a flatter high speed ride. The added weight up front also allows the steering to weight up better.

High speed bumps also tend to unsettle the Verna a fair amount and call for a steady hand on the steering wheel. Straightline stability is average and not quite as reassuring as it should be. The Verna’s ride-oriented soft suspension has also invariably dulled driving dynamics. Cornering manners are tidy but this is no Ford Fiesta. The body rolls quite a bit and, given the vague feel at the wheel, does not bode well for really enthusiastic driving. However, there is ample grip from the oversized 195/55-R16 Bridgestones when such an occasion does arise.

The Verna comes with disc brakes all around and the top-end model we tested is equipped with ABS and EBD as well. Sadly, the brake pedal is devoid of much feel in the crucial first few centimetres of travel. Also, in panic stops, the soft rear struggles to hold its line and threatens to step out. This can get unnerving if you are not used to it.

Hyundai Verna
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