New Hyundai Verna 4S: First Drive
The popular sedan has just got its first update. We take it for a spin to tell the difference.
Hyundai got it spot on with the current generation Verna. It looks fantastic, has awesome interiors and gets a stonker of diesel engine.But with newer competition mainly the new Honda City, Hyundai thought it was time to spruce up its popular sedan to get it back into the meat of things. So what we have here is the new Verna 4S (which stands for Style, Safety, Sophistication and Speed), which is not an all-new car, but more like a midlife update. Now Hyundai tells us its got enough new additions for us to sit up and take notice, so we took it for a spin around lovely Udaipur to check it out.
Now the Verna with its fluidic design was already fantastic looking car, so Hyundai thought it was better to keep the changes subtle. The face looks happier than before thanks to the new angular headlights. The small grille is now replaced with a wider twin slatted chrome grille with a big H logo in the centre. The front bumper has also been reworked with new fog light housings.
On the side, you have new 16 inch alloys and finally at the rear, slightly redesigned tail lamps along with a reworked bumper which now incorporate reflectors at each end finish up the design changes. Now design is quite a subjective topic and as a result quite a few agreed with the new changes while some did not. If it did not for you, we suggest to give it a little time and the design will grow on you as it did on us.
The interiors in the Verna was another reason for its popularity, and it will remain so. The two tone dashboard is carried over unchanged and so is the high level of fit and finish. Everything from the plastics to the perforated leather seats feels great and exude a feel-good factor.
Updates here include 1 GB storage in the audio player which still does not get touch screen to store songs, a new reach adjust function for the steering wheel and an “Ergo lever” which is located on the inside of the co-passenger seat to allow the rear passenger to move the front seat forward to liberate more legroom. At the rear, the armrest gets twin cup-holders and seats get a longer base for additional thigh support which does make it better for longer drives.
What also looks neat are the air-con controls which offer a lot of features without having to fiddle around with too many buttons. Its quite a neat layout and pretty easy to operate as well. The aircon also gets something called a cluster ionizer which ensures that the air quality in the cabin remains fresh.
Apart from that there is plenty of storage in the car and you also get a cooled glovebox which is quite a nice addition to have. You also get a sun-glass holder, twin cup holders at the front and then some.
Space though adequate, the Verna somehow does not come across as room as the new Maruti Ciaz or the Honda City. There is ample legroom and its only when you have a tall person sitting upfront that the rear passenger gets less room to play with. The seats dont touch the knees but more space is always appreciated.
The boot swallows 490 litres of luggage which is not the best in its class but enough for a large suitcase and some shopping bags.
Engine and Performance
No big updates here and the Verna 4S get the same engines and gearbox. The 1.4 litre 105 PS petrol with a 5-speed manual gearbox starts things off followed by a 1.6 litre petrol that puts out a more impressive 121 PS and gets an option of a 6-speed manual or a 4-speed AT. The 1.4 and the 1.6 litre diesel get a mild update in the form of a new, low friction coating on their pistons to improve refinement, emissions and efficiency.
The petrol is still refines and the 1.6 has decent juice, although still does not pack a wallop like a 121 PS car should. But if its performance you after, the 1.6 diesel is the one to look at. There is enough power and torque for those highway jaunts. Overtaking does not involve downshifting most of the times and the riding the wave of torque is enough to pass those lumbering trucks.
Ride and Handling
Ride is something Hyundai always had the measure of, however handling ha always been one of Hyundai’s Achilles heels. To solve that problem, Hyundai has mad a few changes to the rear suspension which gets tweaked coil springs to better damping and thereby provide a more flatter ride. A low velocity valve is also present on the dampers to smoothen rebound along with new bump stops to minimize the harsh bottoming out feel.
Taking the car out on the roads, the changes are immediately apparent. The car immediately feels a tad stiffer. There is almost a Germanic feel to the ride quality. The car feels very well planted and straight line stability has also improved by the bucket loads. The steering is still too light though at lower speeds and constant corrections are the need of every second, but it gets a little better as speeds build up.
Corners induce body roll, but feel quite controlled. Ride quality we feel though has taken a slight downer thanks to the new found stiffness. A proper roadtest on rough roads will give us a better idea of how well this new set-up performs. But this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Under average conditions, the braking feels adequate. There is enough bite with the electronics kicking in as well. However what we realised was the absence of rear discs. The Verna now comes equipped with drums at the rear.
Is it enough?
In the wake of increasing competition, Hyundai has done well to update the Verna with some important updates. Hyundai has tries to build on its already existing strong qualities, however the new styling might bring is mixed opinions. The other qualities remain intact with brilliant interiors, a long equipment list, a good oil burner with the bonus of better handling. The Verna was already a good all-rounder and we feel the new updates take it a notch higher. With the launch just round the corner which we think Hyundai will manage to get right, the Verna 4S should make a stronger case for itself. Watch out for a full blown road test, coming soon.