Honda City vs Maruti Ciaz vs Hyundai Verna: Space, Practicality & Comfort Comparison
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After a few lacklustre years, the champion of the mid-size sedan segment, the Honda City, is promising to bring the premium feel back. However, the segment has changed with fewer and ever more discerning buyers. The competition has also upped its ante by combining greater practicality, premiumness and comfort. We bring together the Hyundai Verna, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Honda City to see where they excel and fumble when it comes to space, practicality and comfort. Let’s see which of these is the right one for you.
Desirability: While practicality is important, a car’s inherent appeal directs our attention. This feel-good factor is dependent on a couple of factors such as features and design.
Design and quality
- On the outside, all three cars offer different personalities; the Ciaz neatly straddling the middleground between the Verna’s obviously sporty aura and the City’s more restrained elegance. The City’s elegance is carried into the cabin too, offering the most lavish and upmarket experience of the three. The soft-touch leatherette wrap on the dash and the glossy faux wood insert give the cabin a sense of premiumness. This also extends to the controls for the air-con, be it the rotary dials or the push switches, which work with such a lovely, clicky feel.
The Verna’s sportiness is felt in the cabin too. Aside from the swoopy and cosy feel of the cabin, the red-accents on the air-con vents on the turbo-petrol variant and the new digital display for the instrument cluster emphasise this further. However, the swoopy dash design itself is a bit bland and the materials don’t feel as rich as on the City.
- The chunky design for the dashboard and the simple instrument cluster are clear signs of the Ciaz’s age. But the lighter colours, the matte faux wood trim, and the covered storage bay in the centre console are nice touches which have helped it age gracefully.
The Verna can claim to have more wow features than the others, but it’s the ventilated seats that will really make a big difference in a car buyer’s life. The infotainment is also central to the experience and the Verna’s infotainment is the best in the class. This is thanks to an 8-inch touchscreen that is sharp and responsive while the large physical buttons make it easy to navigate the menus even on the go. The new digital display for the driver’s instrument cluster gives the Verna a sporty touch. However, once you notice the rev counter readout in decimals, you just can’t unsee it.
- The City, on the other hand, screams of sophistication. The digital display in the driver’s instrument cluster is so well executed that it almost seems like an analogue unit. However, this display can show you revs, trip info or G-force data too. The City also has the Lane Watch system which shows you a video feed from a camera under the left-hand side ORVM every time you indicate to go left. However, the helpfulness of this feature is limited by where it is displayed - on the infotainment screen and not on the digital display in the instrument cluster. Also, this feed interrupts navigation, which limits helpfulness when approaching intersections. Its touchscreen infotainment system also lacks the fluidity and ease of use of the Verna. But some things make sense, like offering a wireless phone charger as an accessory. Also, by offering four airbags as standard, the City certainly seems very sensible. Six airbags are available on higher variants like on the Verna.
- The Ciaz seems the most bare bones with only two airbags. It also misses out on the wow quotient, being the only car here without an electric sunroof and connected car technology. Thankfully, like the other two, the Ciaz offers a sun shade for the rear windshield, and rear aircon vents. However, only the Verna offers a USB charging port at the rear, while the Ciaz and City offer 12v sockets.
Passenger Space: There are three different needs that our viewers and readers have emphasised and so, we tested these three accordingly.
- For the grandparents: The easiest backseat for the elders in the family to get in and out of is the Maruti. The Ciaz has the largest doors and the easiest ingress and egress as the seat is also set a bit higher. This means you have to duck down the least here and there’s less strain on the knees. The Honda City is also easy to get into. However, the seat is set just a bit lower than on the Ciaz but it isn’t too low either. Meanwhile, the Hyundai’s swooping roofline and low-slung stance limit its practicality on this front.
Three in the back: If you use all five seats in your car regularly, then comfort for three in the backseat will be very important. On this front too, the Maruti is easily the best. Its 1335mm of shoulder room is the most here and the lack of contours on the rear bench means three adults can sit in reasonable comfort here for short trips. If you were to accommodate a child in the middle seat, all three occupants would sit comfortably even on longer journeys.
With 1315mm of shoulder room, the Hyundai is the second widest sedan. However, the least amount of kneeroom and the high windowline makes you feel cooped in.
- The Honda is the least comfortable when it comes to accommodating three adults in the backseat. It is the narrowest of the three here, with 1290mm of shoulder room. To make matters worse, the scooped-out roof liner curves downwards at the sides, eating into the headroom for the two passengers on the side. So, it is best suited for two adults and a child. However, the City is the only car here to offer a proper headrest and a three-point seatbelt for the middle occupant.
Chauffeur driven: If you are primarily chauffeur driven and are looking to lounge in the backseat while commuting to office, the Honda is your best pick. Not only does it offer the most kneeroom, it also offers more headroom and the large windows and light colours of the cabin make it feel airy and relaxing too. The cushioning and better contours on the seats will help you relax quickly.
The Ciaz, like the CIty, also uses light colours and large windows to create an airy feel. However, the flat seats and the cushioning don’t feel as comfortable as the Honda’s. Surprisingly, the most generous seat of the trio is in the Verna. It has the longest seat base, and it provides the best under thigh support too.
- The Verna isn’t inadequate for most adults, but its kneeroom, headroom and the sense of airiness just can’t match up with the competition.
Front seat: Once again, the Honda sets the tone in terms of the front seat experience. Thanks to the low-set dash and the high-set seat, which even at its lowest position, gives you a great view out of the cabin. The plush seats and the large windows make the experience most enjoyable here. The only caveat here is that for anyone over 6 feet tall, the headroom will start to feel a bit tight.
- The seating position in the Verna is a complete contrast to the City. It encourages a sporty low-slung seating position that also fits with the Verna’s racy image and the ambience created by the high window line. But the Verna isn’t impractical, as it gives you a clear view over the dashboard and has plenty of headroom even for taller drivers.
- The Ciaz would make for a very sensible vehicle for all drivers as it has the most headroom and like the City, it has a very airy and spacious feel to it. However, the lack of telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel and the offset driving position means finding the perfect seating position isn’t easy. Also, the seats on the Ciaz don’t feel as supportive.
Storage Space: Living with a vehicle involves living in a vehicle too. So do these three treat your belongings and your bags? In terms of in-cabin storage, the City has all the cleverness and practicality expected of a Honda. The centre console has trays under the air-con panel. There are even phone holder slots for the driver and passenger next to the hand brake. Door pockets are practical In the front and the rear - accommodating one-litre bottles. The seatback pockets also have special pockets to stow your phone and other smaller objects so that you don’t have to dig around for them. Thoughtful! The Ciaz has big and practical door pockets too. But the cupholders and the phone stowage spots are all clustered in one space in the centre console, and clubbing hot coffee with cellphones doesn’t seem like a great idea to us. The Verna’s storage space is better organised, with cupholders between the front seats, while stowage for your phone is ahead of the gear lever. While its front door pockets are larger, they are a touch too deep and the rear door pockets won’t take a one-litre bottle.
Boot Space: In terms of boot space, the City and Ciaz are neck-and-neck on paper, 506 and 510 litres, respectively. The Verna’s 480-litre capacity trails them clearly, but in the real world, the Verna isn’t too far behind. The Hyundai’s boot is the easiest to adjust different bags into as it has the most intrusion-free design. All our test luggage was accommodated with space to spare for another large suitcase. The Ciaz’ larger boot could also accommodate the additional suitcase with space to spare for a few more soft bags. However, the Ciaz’s boot shape is a bit contoured and that means making the most of the space on offer requires a bit of planning. The Honda’s slimmer and lower boot lip makes loading luggage easier than the others and while its boot isn’t as intrusion free as the Hyundai, it is not as troublesome as the Maruti. That is while it manages to swallow all the luggage with space remaining for more.
On the road: Finally, what are they like when it comes to dealing with the worst of our roads? If there’s a Honda in the mix, ground clearance has to be checked. Impressively, the Honda’s performance over bad roads is better. This is despite having the same 165mm of ground clearance as before. Honda says it has retuned the suspension for better ground clearance, and it seems to work as intended. On our rough road test, the City’s belly did not touch down anywhere. However, the City has grown longer and that’s resulted in a longer chin. As a result, the deflector flap tends to touch down when making your way over potholes.
The Verna, despite its sporty stance, is absolutely nonchalant going over bad roads. The best of the trio though has to be the Ciaz, which doesn’t let out a whimper even over the worst of roads.
But which of these will keep you most comfortable over our roads? Easy, the City. It feels like it is from a segment above in the way it deals with bad roads. It never gets rattled or floaty, somehow always managing to absorb more and settling down faster than the other two. The City keeps a greater sense of composure and calmness at highway speeds too. The Ciaz isn’t as accomplished as the City, but it has a knack for tackling big bumps. However, like the City, there’s a fair amount of road and tyre noise creeping into the cabin. When it comes to sound insulation, it’s the Verna that makes you feel cut off from the world outside. Road, tyre and suspension noise is just smothered. It makes your city commute even more enjoyable as it also absorbs bumps nicely at low speeds. But as the roads get worse and speeds rise, you realise the Hyundai jostles you around more, making it less enjoyable.
The Ciaz, despite its age, shows that it has a very sensible head on its shoulders. It offers plenty of space for the family and is ready to tackle all kinds of Indian roads. While it misses out on the wow factor, the Ciaz wins the size-to-price ratio by being around Rs 3 lakh cheaper than the others. However, comparing the lower variant of the City, which packs four airbags, with the Ciaz shows that the value card isn’t as strong either. The Verna’s price has crept up from Maruti to Honda territory and it justifies it with a more feature-packed experience. However, the appeal of the Verna is centred around the front seats and its sportier demeanour. The City isn’t perfect either, but it shows that it can deliver higher levels of practicality and premiumness than before and better its rivals too. It does so while maintaining prices similar to its predecessor! So if you are looking for an all-rounder for the family, the 5th generation Honda City will bear that scrutiny calmly and confidently.