In recent years, the mid-size sedan segment has been sidelined by many in a bid to get behind an SUVs of varying shapes and size. With manufacturers offering compact SUVs, sub-compact SUVs, crossover SUVs and full-blown SUVs, sedans have not been enjoying the limelight of yesteryears. Nonetheless, the City from Honda continues to do respectable numbers within a segment where Maruti Suzuki have a firm footing courtesy Ciaz. Once a dominant player, the Verna from Hyundai gradually faded away under the onslaught from direct and indirect rivals. But no more. Or at least that is what Hyundai is hoping with the 2017 Verna.
EXTERIOR AND LOOK
The k2 platform underpins the new Hyundai Verna 2017. This platform is light and does not compromise on safety. Ultra high strength steel used in almost 50% of the car. There are many useful features in the car. This platform is longer and wider. The design is based on the Fluidic 2.0 architecture.This architecture is present on Elantra, XCent 2017, Grand 2017 and even the Creta. Now the Verna follows the same and looks part of the family.
Fron / A new grille looks more mature and engulfs most of the front part. It looks more evolved. The headlamps are sleek and the grille gets chrome slate, though only on higher variants. Projector headlamps are now seen in the car and it and also gets LED DRLs. This is what makes the Hyundai Verna 2017 a lot more stylish and attractive. The fog lamps get chrome surrounds and the bumpers are stylish.
Side / The Hyundai Verna 2017 is sporty looking especially from the side. The design is inspired from a coupe and hence it looks suave as well. The silhouette has clean lines flowing across. The mid models have 15-inch steel/alloy wheels and the higher ones have 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. The top variant also gets chrome door handles.
Rear / The Verna 2017 looks very similar to the Elantra. The LEDs on the taillamps remind one of the Elantra. The rear bumper gets a dual tone colour.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT
The cabin layout isn’t very different from its stablemates, but that isn’t a bad thing. Interiors are well-appointed and the placement of controls is good. The new steering controls add to the upmarket feel while offering better usability. The quality of plastics is as good as it gets and plastics are nice to the touch with a smooth feel. The 7-inch touchscreen offers a good resolution but a slightly crisper resolution would have been more welcome, particularly for the navigation. The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink connectivity.
The ventilated seats deserve a mention as their cooling effect is a boon, and the seats are nicely cushioned and offer good bolstering. The rear bench is comfortable but leg and kneeroom aren’t as generous as some of the competition. The rear seat is a nice place to be in though with its plushness as the height of the arm rest is perfect and the rear air-conditioning vents ensure drafts of cold air reach you well. There’s an additional USB port for rear occupants, a thoughtful addition for the chaueffer driven lot. Storage spaces are abundant with several useful cubby holes, cup holders, a front central arm rest with storage and one-litre bottle holders in all doors.
Boot volume may not be best in class but there’s good amounts of space and I don’t think the average buyer will complain. Another highlight is the remote opening function for the boot, like the Elantra and Tucson you simply need to stand behind the car for three seconds with the key in your pocket for it to open which helps a lot when your hands are full.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Hyundai’s Verna will be offered with two engines, not four. The 1.4-litre engines have been shelved altogether. The 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines have been carried over, but not without tweaks. Though power figures are identical at 123PS (petrol) and 128PS (diesel), Hyundai says that the torque is a lot more accessible. For instance, at 1250rpm you’d have 245Nm of torque on tap, compared to 176Nm in the outgoing Verna 4S diesel. Similar case with the petrol, where it makes a full 7Nm more at 1500rpm compared to the outgoing car that developed 122Nm. There’s a 6-speed manual like before, but, the 4-speed automatic transmission has been ditched in favour of a 6-speed automatic, presumably borrowed from the Creta. We could only sample the diesel avatar of the Verna, but had a go with both the transmissions. Clutch in, thumb the start-stop button, and the engine comes to life with a faint clatter. The engine feels smooth and refined as you start driving. The highlight here is the drivability of the motor, courtesy the torque. You can lug it at 30kmph in third. Step on it, and expect it to build speed cleanly. Much like the little Xcent, power delivery remains linear, save for a small spike in power at around 1700rpm. The diesel should make for a good city car as the clutch is light (albeit springy), and the gearshifts are quick n’ slick.
If you don’t want that hassle altogether, the new automatic gearbox will save the day. It shifts through the gears quickly and just gets the job done. Don’t expect it to be a sporty gearbox that will give you split-second shifts. Think of it rather as convenience and it seems just right for the job. There’s a manual mode too, but it didn’t seem all that engaging to use. It’s best left to its own, really. What’s appreciable, is the fact that the Verna is no longer a skittish handler. Around the skidpad, it remained composed as we chucked it about. Yes, there’s a bit of body roll but it’s predictable. And, we’d say the same thing about the steering as well. It is light, sure – but not dead. It does a good job of telling you what the front wheels are up to. Impressive! We can’t comment on the ride just as yet, but Hyundai tells us the new suspension has been engineered to be more forgiving, more pliant and quieter. It should have no qualms munching highway miles, but we’ll reserve our word on it till we get enough time with the car.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The one serious shortcoming in the old Hyundai Verna was that it wasn’t a confident high-speed machine. With the new K2 platform and changes to both the front and rear suspension setup, Hyundai has completely transformed the driving experience in the 2017 Verna. The steering is still fairly light in town, making negotiating the tight traffic-filled street of Kochi a breeze, and when speeds increased out on the highway a nice reassuring weight enters the equation. The steering also feels quite direct and this really helps with letting you know what’s happening at the front wheels.
It’s very well behaved around corners too. The chassis stays fairly flat and though there is some roll when really pushed it’s always predictable and controlled. The brake pedal is quite firm and though it is very linear and has more than enough braking force we do wish it was a little lighter action.Comfort hasn’t been compromised as the ride quality is still pliant in the new Verna. It’s on the firm side but yet manages to absorb bumps and imperfections in the road. This is down to Hyundai doing a lot of work on the suspension. It’s changed the setup of the McPherson linkages up front to limit the horizontal displacement that occurs when the front wheels go over sharp bumps and in the rear, the angle of the shocks have been changed to a more vertical design to better improve the backseat ride. It has worked.
BRAKING AND SAFETY
The next-gen Hyundai Verna gets disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. In addition, it is laced with a plethora of exceedingly reliable braking systems such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) as standard features. The body structure of the new sedan is developed with 50 percent of Advanced High Strength Steel, which is an additional increase of 37 percent over the preceding model. As for the safety of the occupants, the 2017 Verna comes several avant-garde features in form of 6-airbags, front projector foglamps, ISOFIX (Child Restraint System), Impact sensing Auto Door Lock, Cornering Lamps, Reverse Parking Sensors, and Reverse Parking Camera.
The new Verna looks like a scaled down variant of the Elantra sedan which was unveiled last year. The new generation sedan comes with some modern elements on the inside like a new touchscreen infotainment system, but the biggest change that it has received come has to be the new automatic transmission which is much more responsive and smoother compared to the previous unit. Lastly the competitive pricing definitely will also help this sedan to compete with its rival quite comfortably.