Design – Lets talk about the Design first, it’s a simple car with plain jane looks, it takes time to get used to the design which is a little understated in nature, even the current facelifted Verna Transform has done nothing to enhance the looks, only the rear with new bumper and tailpipe look good, even the tail lamps, which have been modified a bit look better now. Hyundai has messed up with the front, considering it as part of their fluidic design language, the front looks confusing, on one hand they have the i20 and i10 brilliantly designed cars and Verna Transform on the other. What is Hyundai doing?? The interiors are also simple and bland, infact only the backlit display of the console has been changed from green to blue similar to the i20.
Recently the next generation Verna which was launched in Beijing Motor Show looks much better compared to the Transform. The New RB Concept with a redesigned front which was displayed at the Moscow Auto Show and supposed to be launched in India (as per speculation) and currently under going testing at ARAI, looks stunning, the interiors have also been done tastefully. The hexagonal grille similar to the newly launched i10 has become Hyundai’s signature design language with the next generation Tucson (ix 35) also getting the same treatment. For the Indian market the RB concept makes more sense as the new i10 has garnered good reviews in terms of styling.
Performance – Speaking about the engine , the Verna comes with two engine options, a 1.6 Litre MPFI Petrol with Variable Valve Timing(VTVT in Hyundai’s terminology) and a 1.5 Litre, CRDI Diesel with VGT(Variable Geometric Turbo), Max Power is 104PS at 5500rpm and 140Nm of torque at 3000rpm for the petrol and 110PS@4000rpm, with a max Torque of 235Nm@1900rpm for the diesel respectively. The petrol feels stronger but the ace in the pack is the superb Diesel , which is punchy and pulls very strongly, there is a turbo lag initially till 1800 rpm. But once you go past it, the turbo kicks in and you are simply pushed back. The power band between 1800-2500 RPM is the best to drive the car, there is a sudden rush of power in the given power band, it does have the obvious diesel clattering at idle/low rpm, but considering the torque band, its tiring to drive the car in city conditions, you need to change gears frequently but once on the highway it just eats into the miles.
Ride and Handling – Driving dynamics are average , ride quality is very good at low speeds but above 80kmph, it gets unsettled very easily even by small bumps or quick turns, the suspension is set on the softer side, but frankly speaking it feels like you are ridng a big boat!!! The steering feels vague at high speeds, it doesn’t respond to sudden direction changes, in city its very much manuverable but as speeds built up the steering becomes less responsive.
Fuel Economy – The car returns a good mileage of 12-13kmpl in city and 16-18kmpl on highways with the A/C on. Since the tank has a storage capacity of 45 litres, there is no need of constant refuelling.
Features – The car is less equipped considering its high sticker price of 9.22 lakhs on road for the top end Diesel variant. Leave the old one but the new Transform is devoid of AIRBAGS which is a big omission from Hyundai for this segment, even the i20 which is a segment lower than Verna comes with Airbags for the top end variant.
Another point I would like to add regarding long term ownership is that the car is easy to maintain but few parts (e.g. windshield wiper, wheel caps, tail-lamps) are on the expensive side compared to other cars in this segment.
Quick Comparison with other brands
Ford Fiesta – Lets start with the Fiesta, its the best handling car as far as driving dynamics are taken into consideration. It still looks attractive from some angles but the design is fastly becoming dated due to new entrants, its dashboard is well layed out but lacks quality, few switches and door lock handles feel tacky and also look cheap, it also comes in two engine options, 1.6 Petrol (101PS@6500rpm) and 1.4 TDCi Diesel (68PS@4000rpm).
The Petrol engine is an enthusiastics delight and with the sharp handling and dedicated chassis and tyre setup, it’s the best handling car in the sub 10 lakh category in the country The Diesel Engine is smooth but agricultural in nature. It lacks sheer power compared to the Hyundai and VW, but returns amazingly good mileage. Ride quality is pretty decent, infact better than Verna, steering feedback is good, and it feels very crisp and responsive to sudden direction changes. There are a few niggling problems such as the space isn’t all that good; the equipment levels are short compared to modern standard. Hopefully Ford’s new Fiesta would be able to answer the short-comings in the current model which is supposed to get launched very soon.
Volkswagen Vento – The other car in this segment is the recently launched Volkswagen Vento, the Polo( younger brother of Vento) is the best all- round hatchback in the country. Vento with an additional boot has taken things one notch up in terms of space, engines and features. It comes with two engine options, 1.6 Petrol and 1.6 TDI, the Petrol Vento is capable but little bland, it’s the diesel version which makes a little more sense. It’s powerful, punchy and has superb drivability. Its quicker than Verna since the torque delivered is at a little low 1500rpm compared to the Verna’s 1800rpm, even it returns better fuel consumption figures, Volkswagen could do good by offering little more features and improving the ride quality which is little on the softer side.
Honda City – Another excellent car in this category is the Honda City i-VTEC, it comes with a silky smooth 1.5 Litre Petrol Engine delivering 118PS@6600rpm. It simply looks superb and the way in which Honda has carried out the arrow head design is commendable. The paddle shift version is awesome to drive compared to the manual shift. The interiors are nice but the quality of the plastics could have been better, it has the most sorted out dashboard in this category but feels tacky and of cheap quality compared to the previous version. Though the engine is smooth and powerful it doesn’t feel as responsive as the old VTEC, recently Honda has upgraded the city with few cosmetic changes (a biggg..chrome plate on the grille, I personally didn’t like it). Honda needs to put a diesel heart in the City to keep up with the competition .
Conclusion – As far as the Verna goes, its a good car but the design looks outdated, the interiors are bland as compared to the growing competition in the form of VW’s Vento, Honda’s City and the soon to be launched Ford’s New Fiesta, they need to bring in the New Verna (RB Concept) as soon as possible . Even the New Transform hasn’t stopped the dwindling sales of the car. As far as the above comparison goes, overall the VW Vento is the best car money can buy in this category.