Hyundai’s Verna got off to flying start when launched initially in 2011 as it set sales chart on fire. Even after months of launch, average monthly sales remained constant at above 4000 mark and even touched impressive 6000 units around festive seasons. In fact, Hyundai smashed all the previous benchmarks with Verna and dethroned Honda from its leadership position as it continued to ride high on Verna’s wave. The dream run of Verna fared for quite a long time until came all-new 2014 Honda City with much-needed diesel heart. Smitten by Honda badge, prospective buyers’ swarmed Honda showrooms and Hyundai started feeling the abandoning effect of consumers. Further dent in Verna’s fortune was delivered by Maruti Ciaz that came as SX4 replacement and became more formidable contender against Honda City for top-slot. Bogged down by both Honda and Maruti, Verna was forced to retreat at distinctive third position as its monthly sales dived down to lowest figures averaging 1500 – 2000 units/month. Another accomplice in this downturn is ageing factor of Verna as this sedan is around for quite a long period of time now. Compared to its direct competition, Verna is older and lacks the freshness aspect that has its own weight in buying criteria of prospects. Hyundai too, seems to have acknowledged this as it has now come up with facelift Verna, called 4S Fluidic Verna in order to reinstate its dwindling fortunes in sedan category. We took this new facelift Verna for a long spin to find whether it has got right attitude to become leader again.
Styling & Design
We have always maintained that Hyundai has gone overboard with its fluidic sculpture designing, especially in case of Verna. Fortunately, facelift Verna has got toned-down treatment of this philosophy which is sure to go down well with range of prospective buyers. Watered down design of new Verna gives it a luxurious aura as it feels more matured and less boyish than before. Double salt chrome grille has understated beauty and with trapezoidal air-dam, it makes frontage quite interesting. New projector-headlamps somewhere feels similar to unit we have witnessed in Maruti Ciaz though projector element here, feels bigger and powerful than it feels in Maruti.
In profile, nothing much has changed as Verna continues to boast sleek character line and dropping down roof panel. Glass area is small, owing to coupe-ish look, and makes inside less airy than some of other segment propositions. Rear has got tail lamps with different design elements though this is not very perceptible feature. Only keen observers will able to differentiate this change and only when lights are illuminated.
A bit bulbous rear feels heavy though Hyundai has tried to cut this bulk with adding black insert at bottom of rear bumper. Pair of reflectors at sides look handsome and is inspired by high-end Mercedes’s offering in terms of design and positioning spot.
Dimensional integrity of Verna has remained unaltered though feature-wise there are some important changes carried out by Hyundai. For one, ABS has been standard across variants and trims though on the flip side, rear disc brakes have been discontinued. Top-variant of new Verna is quite feature laden as it comes with 6-airbags, reversing camera, ABS with EBD, auto headlamps, auto wipers, electrically foldable ORVMs’ etc.
Interiors & Space
Inside new Verna, overall theme of outgoing model has been retained as cabin settings and perspective looks quite familiar. That said, there are some important feature additions to list that includes new ergo lever (Skoda-inspired), reach & rake adjustment for steering, and much soothing display for AC and music controls.
Overall fit-finish is cut above the rest as Verna maintains its stitching legacy with quite an ease. Swooping design of dash still arouses interest and so is minimal space occupied by crispy controls. Faux wood finish around console and door’s arm rests feels exquisite and evoke sense of luxury. Slip into back seat however, and breaks starts appearing in Verna’s package. To start with there is no rear AC vents; something that has become norm in this mid-size sedan category. This omission is even more surprising when one gets this rear AC vents in smaller Grand i10. Further rear seat lacks the thigh support and positioned too lower to be felt comfortable. Ingress-egress for elderly will surely be a task in Verna as Hyundai failed to rectify this criticism in this present facelift.
Boot space of Verna is quite capacious at 465 litres though it lags behind 510 litres of trunk offered by Honda City. There are intrusions by suspension towers though these are kept to minimum level by Hyundai. Trunk feels more usable towards the end as it opens up more space outwardly than what it has on offer deep-down inside.
Engine & Transmission
There is no change in power plant and transmission options as facelift Verna sells with same choices as before. There are a set of petrol and diesel engines, with displacement capacity of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre, on offer that are mated with both manual and automatic transmission. Our test car comes with 1.6-litre petrol engine that makes 123 PS of max power along with 155 Nm of max torque.
This petrol motor is quite rev-happy and in fact very drivable too. Being in higher state of tune, has its own advantage that starts manifesting in terms of smoother runs, lesser gearshifts and easily executed overtaking manoeuvres. That said, on flip side the mileage figures are not as great as one would like, especially when one considers diesel versions in this category returning mileage of more than 26 km/l in standard conditions. We feel at home in variety of circumstances with this motor as this gamma engine takes everything in its stride without a bit of panic.
Both 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines in Verna comes mated with both manual and automatic transmission. 5-speed manual unit in petrol variant we drove has slick shifting experience. There is no hint of any tackiness though as slotting conforms to all standards of smooth shifting exercise. That said, there is some hiccup in way first and reverse gate is defined. It will take the user some time before getting habitual to this arrangement. Refinement level of Verna is fantastic and so is braking capability. Clutch is feather light and won’t trouble your left foot even in longer drives.
Verna has been criticizes for its soggy and vulnerable stability in past and Hyundai claims to have worked upon these shortcomings in facelifted Verna. Do we agree with claim? To some extent, answer is yes as horrible softness in suspension of Verna has been taken care of by the new settings of the suspension. Mushy and squashy nature of older Verna is replaced by more confident and stable suspension unit in new car. New Verna offers comfortable slow-speed ride and stability has improved, to some extent, at higher whacks too.
That said, Verna is still nowhere near the benchmark set by some of its rivals like Rapid, Vento, Fiesta etc. Handling of Verna is till tricky affair as this sedan tends to have a lot of body roll on occasions. Unanticipated lane changes are still not welcome and at best, must be avoided to have Verna remained in its composure. All in all things have changed for better though even new Verna leaves a lot to be desired.
Facelift Verna stretched in price range of Rs 8.74 lakh to Rs 12.19 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). In fact top-specced Verna diesel AT is costliest amongst rivals which makes it average value for money offer. 2015 Verna is more of course correction by Hyundai than an attempt to present a thoroughly redefined version of this sedan. Cosmetic changes on outside and inside have made Verna a lot more desirable than before, and more importantly infused the much-needed freshness effect to this Hyundai. Now, Verna won’t feel pale in front of its contemporary and advanced rivals. We expect this facelift to bring back prospects to Hyundai’s facilities though crucial question of how many is best left to coming days. The way in which the mid-size battle has intensified of late is alarming with even segment leaders are not taking anything lightly. Honda and Maruti have not let their guard down and now with updated Verna, the competition fury is likely to get further intensified.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 3/5