July 24, 2021

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Review: Hits and misses of Hyundai Verna

NEW DELHI: It all started with a phone call. The Verna or Aura, I wanted to drive, and understand the ownership experience. For reference, Hyundai made the best use of the resources in 2020 to pump out a series of cars and facelifts.
Mid-February, a week after the phone, the diesel variant with manual transmission was at my doorstep. For starters, I had serious questions about the face of the new Verna. Sharp and angular treatment to the grille, edgy fog lamp housing, I wasn’t convinced with what Hyundai had done during the first drive (somewhere around July 2020). But by now, the new i20 has arrived. And Hyundai’s take on sensuous sportiness theme trickles to the i20 as well.

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Week after week, the more I put kilometers on the Verna, the new alloy design, chrome door handles and the plunging roofline changed my mind. Whether it was for the trip to Jaipur to meet her brother (Alcazar preview) or taking me to Kolkata during the second wave of Covid, Verna never disappointed.

Month of April: En route to Hyundai Alcazar preview

Features aplenty, Verna often makes rivals look lacklustre. While ventilated seats were excellent to beat the burn of Delhi summer, the sunroof opened up a whole new experience during hill visits. Several features are carried over from the 2017 generation upgrade, yet I found the new 8-inch infotainment with BlueLink and connected tech one of the best suite in the business at the price range. Often gone unnoticed, the driver’s display is dramatically upgraded, which is inspired by a gaming console.

Verna in February: Trip to Himachal Pradesh

Hyundai Verna has taken the challenge head-on to Honda City. But not all can go right for Verna. The packaging inside is decent. The 480-litre boot often liberated more space than I would expect. Family trips could be a challenge with everyone trying to fit in a bag or two extra. Thankfully, Verna never shied away. The rear seat, though I didn’t spend much time in there, isn’t the best in terms of space in the segment. The cushioning is supportive, the lean angle is comfortable but the legroom feels a bit tight when slotted against Ciaz.
The cooled glovebox comes in very handy. More often than not, I found my friends fighting to keep the beverage of their choice. The AC, however, doesn’t sufficiently pump out cool air to my liking. During 40+ degrees in sizzling Delhi, the AC left wanting me for more.

Early days: We started driving the Verna at 8,312 km

The diesel variant sailed me through the unabated string of fuel price hikes. The 1.5-litre engine, as you would know, is a brand new outfit that serves duties in Creta and now the Alcazar. The U2 CRDi has got a strong mid-range torque along with short gear ratios making light work of the city traffic. The acceleration isn’t brisk and neither Verna attempts to launch itself into race mode. The clutch pedal is light and gear shifts are extremely smooth.

Facing the heat: From outdoor shoots to weekend football, Verna was always in the frame

The motor is pretty tractable, smoothly operating between 1,500 rpm and 4,000 rpm. It’s only beyond 5,000 rpm the diesel engine starts to squeal in resistance. Anyway, you wouldn’t want to rev it all that much for two reasons. Firstly, there is hardly a poke from the engine beyond 4,500 rpm and secondly, Verna’s frugality at its sweet spot is the one to envy. On leisurely highways trips, the diesel never settled under 24 kmpl. In extreme cases of city traffic, the worst I could see on the semi-digital cluster was 14 kmpl. On average, I could extract 1,000 kilometres out of a tank full.
The suspension is moderately stiff, not as taut as Rapid or Vento nor outright plush as City. Reiterating its commitment towards youth and family buyers alike, Hyundai seems to have found the right balance of sportiness and comfort. Verna holds its shape beautifully when thrown into the not-so-beaten path.

Earlier in May, I visited the jungles of Dooars. The northern belt of Bengal, which is in close proximity to Darjeeling, is also known for the colonial tea estates. The serpentine roads often show up sudden broken patches. The seemingly fluent drive was often challenged by the terrible speed breakers. While 165 mm of ground clearance is just par with the rivals, it’s the braking from the front discs which instilled immense confidence to steer through lush green belt.
Again, it might not handle as sharp and precise as the German breed, but there is a sense of agility you find holding at the steering wheel. The aerodynamic profile has a lot helping the way Verna darts into the corner and comes out grinning.

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Is it the best sedan you can buy between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh? An outright yes would be a lie. But definitely, Verna as a package is highly appealing, thanks to the array of choices it brings to the table. While terming it perfect is a far cry, the all-rounder Verna ticks most boxes better than its predecessors.
Kilometres driven: 10,432
Average mileage: 21.3 kmpl
Engine: 1.5 litre U2 CRDi (6-MT)
Model: Verna SX

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