For four years since its introduction in the Indian market, the third-generation Verna has been Hyundai Motor India’s mainstay in the sedan segment, leading the C segment in terms of sales for over a couple of years. Built on Hyundai's fluidic design philosophy, the Verna set new benchmarks in the segment, especially in terms of design, build quality, safety and engine performance. The South Korean carmaker has now launched a facelift version of the popular sedan, called the Verna 4S, at a starting price of Rs 773,903 and extending to Rs 12,19,720 for the diesel top-end.
We were recently invited to drive the vehicle around the picturesque city of Udaipur. In this review, we find out what the 4S delivers, and if they are good enough to pale competition.
After a run at the top of the mid-sized sedan segment for two years, Hyundai Verna ran into the refreshed Honda City, which was launched with a new diesel powertrain, and also the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. Soon, the new products in the market outnumbered the Verna. With customers demanding more from the company, Hyundai decided to bring in a mid-life facelift of the Verna in the form of the 4S.
Readers would recall the Verna Transform, which Hyundai had introduced for a brief period before the third-generation variant of the Verna was launched. The fourth-gen Verna is still some time away, and the company would hope to keep the excitement intact with the refreshed version.
So, what essentially is 4S? The four S’ stand for style, safety, speed and sophistication. Let us analyse each of these to understand the new Verna better.
One look at the Verna 4S, and one can spot the most visible change in the face. The refreshed look is thanks to a new dual-slat, wing-shaped chrome grille, larger projector headlamps, bigger air dams and a redesigned bumper with fog lamps that are shaped as boomerangs. The rear profile of the car remains largely similar to the outgoing model, but for LEDs on the tail lamps and redesigned reflectors on the rear bumper. The exhausts too have been concealed in the Verna 4S. From the side, the car looks identical to the outgoing model. The only visible changes include a minor change in the fenders and wheels that have diamond-cut alloys.
The interiors of the car have also remained largely unchanged. The dashboard design has been carried forward from the previous model, and the infotainment system, steering wheel, and controls are identical. The thigh support on the seats has been enhanced, and was evident on our drive towards Mount Abu. The integrated 2 din Bluetooth audio system now comes with 1 GB internal memory. A cooling duct has also been added to the glove box, making it a unique offering in this segment. The instrument cluster is easy to read and practical, with the onboard computer displaying data like average fuel economy, external temperature, distance to empty, et cetera.
The material used in the interiors is of good quality, and company officials claimed they have been upgraded from the past. One interesting addition is the Ergo Lever, clamped on to the side of the passenger seat on the front. This lever can be used by the passenger in the rear seat to move the front seat forward to create better knee room at the rear. Overall, the Verna 4S interior gives you a soothing and comfortable feel with all-around practicality built into the cabin.
Hyundai has always offered segment-leading safety features on its products. The body stricture is made of high-tensile steel, with multiple reinforcements. ABS is standard across the range, and the top variants get front, side and curtain airbags, six in total. An important addition to the Verna safety list is the impact sensing auto door unlock, which could be a boon in the event of collisions. Auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, electro chromic mirrors with camera display and rear parking camera and sensors are additional features.
The Verna 4S has received a 5-star rating from N-CAP in different parts of the globe, said the company, and also added that the US Government Institute for Highway Safety has rated it good.
On the powertrain side, the company has engineered both the petrol and diesel engines to offer segment leading power. The Verna 4S will be available in two petrol engines and two diesel engines; both engines with 1.4 l and 1.6 l options. On the preview drive, we could lay our hands only on the 1.6 l Gamma petrol variant, which delivers a peak torque of 155 Nm and a peak power of about 121 hp. The 1.4 l Gamma engine, meanwhile, has a torque rating of 135 Nm.
The key highlight in the petrol engine is the electronic throttle control unit that electronically controls the amount of air intake and engine RPM to accurately deliver optimum efficiency and performance. This results in better fuel efficiency and improved power, apart from cutting down emissions. The Dual-VTVT (variable timing valve train) unit, on the other hand, controls the opening and closing timing of intake and exhaust valves based on the engine driving conditions. For the customer, this results in good low speed torque and high power in addition to better fuel economy and emissions.
As was clearly evident on our drive, the 1.6 l petrol unit is smooth and refined. However, the engine doesn’t feel as strong as the power figures suggest. The power delivery, especially in city conditions, is non-linear. On the highway though, the engine performs beautifully and once power comes in at about 1,800 rpm, the drive is quite pleasurable.
The steering meanwhile is slightly heavier compared to the older variant, and thus gives you better confidence, especially in corners and in high speeds. The Verna was always criticised for having a vague steering and light suspension set-up. Although Hyundai engineers seem to have put in a lot of good work into effect, one may still question the overall steering feedback and vehicle stability in high speeds.
The suspension too has been tweaked to offer better ride quality and performance. The rear suspension in particular has new coil springs and a low velocity control valve on the dampers to ensure appropriate damping force. New bump stops too have been added to counter the ‘thud’ on full compression.
With the new Vern 4S, Hyundai has been able to hold on to its core strengths of offering a refined performance, refreshed looks and a long list of features on the safety and convenience parameters. The most important improvement that we found was on the ride and handling of the vehicle, which is much better than what the earlier variant offered. It has its fair share of loyal followers, and the new 4S variant should only push the acceptability envelope further across the customer base.
Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay
(We will soon bring you a detailed update on the diesel variant.)