2020 Hyundai Verna Facelift Petrol-CVT: First Drive Review
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With new looks, features and powertrains, the 2020 Verna is more than just a facelift. But how do these changes impact the appeal of the sedan?
Although just a facelift, the 2020 Verna now packs in some extensive changes in the aesthetic department as well as with the added modern tech and, of course, the all-new engine and transmission options. But it's not like you could find much fault with the older Verna. So, how big of a difference do these changes make? And can they make the sedan even more appealing? We got our hands on the new 1.5-litre petrol with the CVT transmission in its top-end SX (O) trim for a day to figure out just that.
- Car Tested: 2020 Hyundai Verna
- Variant: SX (O)
- Engine: 1.5L Petrol
- Transmission: CVT Automatic
- Price: Rs 13.84 Lakh (Ex-showroom)
The older Verna, with its flowing lines and cascading grille, looked somewhere between sporty and elegant. Now, however, there is a clear shift towards a more sporty appeal. Right from the lower edge of the bumper to the headlamps, there are sharp lines and creases that are complemented by the new detailed grille finished in dark metallic chrome, sharp lower lip, and all-new LED headlamps.
The turbo-petrol variant gets an all-black grille with slightly different treatment to look even sportier. Overall, the new front looks aggressive and will look impressive in the rearview mirror. If only the fog-lamps were also LED, it would have been a complete package.
Move to the side and the only change are the new alloys wrapped in the same 195/55 R16 profile rubber. They are now finished in a black dual-tone which complements the grille. Also, fun fact, the 2020 Verna is identical in dimensions to the older car.
At the back, the design is clean. The new bumper creases and faux diffuser means it carries the same sporty character as before. And the added tadka comes from the new LED tail lamps, which give it a more modern look. Overall, the Verna is definitely a better looker than before with the focus clearly towards making it more aggressive than elegant.
While the interiors of the Verna are familiar, there are a few touches which help give it a modern edge. Gone is the integrated touchscreen for a bigger 8-inch floating display. This new touchscreen is super intuitive and can be compared to a smartphone in terms of touch response and smoothness. It also gets voice recognition which you can use to set navigation destinations.
The 2020 Verna also gets connected car tech. Under the Blue Link banner, you can remotely track your car, set a geofence, monitor the vehicle’s health status and switch on the AC all while sitting in your living room. The system also gives you options like emergency assist and RSA with just the touch of a button on the IRVM.
The other new element in the cabin is the instrument cluster. Clearly inspired by the new BMWs, the display is split between two digital screens. The left screen has the speedometer and the right one has the tachometer. In the centre lies a colour-TFT screen which has all the vehicle information available on tap. The simple white display over a black background is rather crisp. You also get four themes but they only slightly change the font of the TFT screen. The option of colour or layout changes in the other digital screens would have been a more impressive feature.
Then we have the new wireless charger. Added convenience, right? But the tray is small and only fits phones with approximately 6-inches of display or smaller. That means not only does my Galaxy Note 8 not charge, it won’t even fit in that tray. Also, a significant miss here is an air purifier, which is offered in most other Hyundai cars in this budget.
These things aside, the Verna is the same likeable car. There’s a sense of solidity and the materials used feel quite premium. The dashboard is covered in hard plastics but the pattern looks rich. Besides, the soft-touch leather on the steering, the gear knob, and the new premium feeling key fob make the interiors look rather plush.
There are no complaints when it comes to features as well. The Verna gets automatic climate control, a sunroof, ventilated front seats, auto day/night IRVM and cruise control. But, the paddle shifters along with the all-black interiors have been reserved for the turbo-petrol variant.
With 480-litres of space, Verna’s boot is plenty for a weekend with luggage. In our baggage test, it easily swallowed up three hard bags (small, medium and large) as well as a soft bag.
Engine and Performance
The Verna now comes with an all-new lineup of engines borrowed from other Hyundais. The 1.0-litre turbo-petrol with the DCT automatic is borrowed from the Venue. The 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines with manual and automatic transmission have been borrowed from the Creta. The 1.5-litre petrol we are driving can either be had with a 6-speed manual or a CVT automatic.
Time then to talk about the engine. And boy oh boy, there is stuff to talk about. Starting with the refinement, this 4-pot motor really puts all the other 3-pot turbos in the market, in their place. There is barely any vibration from the motor throughout the sensible rev band and below 2000rpm, where it mostly operates in the city, you will also barely hear it work. And when you decide to step on it, it revs flawlessly to 6500rpm with a sweet note.
Complementing it beautifully is the CVT. It's smooth, refined and super quiet. And the best part, it doesn't behave like typical CVTs. There is hardly any lag between you pressing the paddle and the speeds increasing. This CVT manages to cut out both the lag, as well as the stretched acceleration effect seen in most other CVTs. This is because of two of its characteristics. One, it is an 8-step CVT and while accelerating, changes through the steps in quick succession to keep the momentum going strong. Second, it doesn't hold high revs and wait for the speeds to match. Rather it builds revs like a torque converter which gives you stronger acceleration.
In fact, compared to the older 1.6-litre Verna petrol with a torque converter automatic, this powertrain is just 1 second slower to 100kmph and does the sprint in 13.04 seconds. That is impressive considering the new motor is down on power by 8PS and uses a CVT to deliver the same. It makes 115PS of power and 144Nm of torque.
On the highway, the acceleration feels a tad lazy which is why we advise planning overtakes in advance. That said, you can overcome this delay by manually downshifting a couple of cogs by sliding the shifter into manual mode. Also, the Verna effortlessly cruises at 1700 rpm at 100kmph, keeping it quiet, pleasant and efficient on the highways.
Having driven the turbo-petrol DCT powertrain in the Venue, I can’t see it offers a smoother drive experience in the city. And in fact, if you are looking for a city-oriented sedan, the 1.5-litre CVT is the less expensive automatic costing Rs 15,000 less than the turbo-petrol.
Ride and Handling
Verna has always offered a very balanced suspension setup. In this facelift, however, it looks like things have shifted further towards the comfort side. It feels at ease going over daily hurdles like broken roads or speed breakers. The Verna provides ample cushioning and manages to settle down quickly post those hurdles as well. What it really manages to do well is filter out the harshness of the surface. Even if you go over a level change a bit faster than usual, it still manages to keep the occupants well-cushioned and away from a backache. In these situations, a thud can be heard inside the cabin, but the bitterness of the bump is not felt. On the highways, the Verna stays composed and will remain comfortable for long journeys as well.
With this setup, it's natural that there will be a bit of body roll. But luckily, it’s predictable and doesn't get bothersome in daily drives. Under an enthusiast’s command, it will roll a bit more but that too settles quickly and doesn't get scary at any point. The steering feedback is exactly as neutral as the suspension. It has been tuned for the city and highways and gives just enough feedback and weight to stay in confidence. But if you are in a mood to play, the feedback will feel a bit lacking.
The SX(O) variant is loaded with safety tech including six airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Assist Control and Electronic Stability Control. However, rear disc brakes and front parking sensors are again reserved for the turbo-petrol variant. The lower variants get two airbags, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors.
The changes to the 2020 Verna do not make a big difference to the overall package. But what they do is improve its strength further to a point where the overall experience is now a lot more impressive. The new looks, modern features and especially the new powertrain will not only impress you the first time you drive the car, but will also make you appreciate them more as you drive further in your ownership. And if you are not particular about enthusiastic or sporty driving, this 1.5-litre CVT powertrain is a better fit for your everyday chores.
Even from an economic standpoint, the Verna sits in the middle of the Volkswagen Vento automatic and the Honda City automatic, making it a sensible pick. The rear seat experience is still the biggest shortcoming in the package but if you can overlook that, the 2020 Verna gives you no reason to consider any other sedan in the segment.