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Hyundai Verna Turbo Petrol First Drive Review

What is it?

Why would I buy it?

Stand-out styling, feature-loaded interiors, new engine 

Why would I avoid it?

1.0-litre DCT slightly pricey, rear headroom cramped for tall people 

What is it?

Hyundai Verna Right Front Three Quarter

Hyundai has spruced up competition in the C-segment with the comprehensively updated Verna. This is not a generation update from the 2018 ICOTY model, but the Korean carmaker has revamped it with an all-new design language, newer powertrain and first-in-class features. Part of this update is the new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol motor which we are driving here.

Hyundai Verna Left Side View

This top-spec SX(O) Turbo trim gets a distinct styling from the standard version. Upfront, the wide and cascading grille is finished in gloss black and gets a unique pattern unlike the usual mesh design. Making the update look more comprehensive are those wraparound headlamps which also get newer LED lighting elements. The black accent of the Turbo trim continues on the bumper chin, ORVMs and shark fin antenna. In profile, the sloping roofline lends the Verna a coupe-ish stance. 

Hyundai Verna left rear three quarter

Meanwhile, the 16-inch dual-tone alloys gel well with the styling. Although the shape of the tail lamps is retained, it does get newer lighting signature. Our favourite part of the styling is the rear bumper with a gloss black diffuser, integrated dual-barrel exhaust and those scaled patterns on either side. Overall, the new Verna looks stylish and upmarket with its ‘Korean styling-adopted-for-European market’ design.

Hyundai Verna Rear view
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How is it on the inside?

Hyundai Verna Dashboard

Step inside and there are noticeable changes to the cabin which help make it feel like a new car. Firstly, there’s the all-digital instrument cluster which has an uncanny resemblance to BMW’s digital layout. Many might not agree with this imitation, but it does look expensive and upmarket. It is also easy to read, and much better than the Creta’s part-digital display. 

Hyundai Verna Instrument cluster

This being a Turbo trim, you get an all-black cabin with red accents on the redesigned air vents and upholstery stitching. On the flip side, the dashboard continues to get hard plastics and Hyundai could have provided some soft touch points to make the cabin feel a tad more premium.

Hyundai Verna Front Row Seats

Like the old Verna, there’s ample space on the inside. Both front seats get cooled function and offer good lateral support and bolstering. But it lacks under-thigh support, especially for taller driver/passenger. Moving to the back, the seats are pretty comfortable and well angled. They are easy to get in, but the narrow and low door makes ingress a tight fit (unless you are in good shape), especially for the elderly. 

Hyundai Verna Second Row Seats

Even here, the under-thigh support is below average. Also, the legroom is acceptable but the headroom isn’t something to write home about, owing to the coupe-like roofline. Meanwhile, the sufficiently large boot can swallow up large suitcases and a couple of medium-sizedones easily with ample room to spare.

Hyundai Verna Infotainment System

In terms of features, Hyundai has also introduced its BlueLink connected features in the new Verna. Apart from that, the sedan continues to get six-airbags, sunroof, TPMS, wireless charging, electric mirrors and windows, front and rear parking sensor, rear camera, and Arkamys sound system.

Hyundai Verna Steering Wheel

How does it drive?

Hyundai Verna Engine Shot

With the update, Hyundai has rejigged the entire powertrain line-up of the Verna. Along with the new 1.5-litre petrol and diesel, it now gets a 998cc Kappa Turbo GDi three-cylinder turbo-petrol producing 118bhp at 6000rpm and a twisting force of 172Nm available at 1500rpm. Sending this power to the front wheels is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. And it is the only trim to get paddle-shifters.

Hyundai Verna Gear Shifter/Gear Shifter Stalk

Once started, the motor settles into a refined hum, with little to no vibrations of the typical three-cylinder motor felt inside the cabin. You would barely hear it off-the-line too and the engine feels eager once you shift to D and let go of the brakes. Since the torque is accessible so low down the rev range, the sedan gets going smoothly and easily even with the slightest dab on the accelerator pedal. It's past 2000rpm when the engine comes alive and it remains like that till the 6500rpm redline. 

Hyundai Verna Right Front Three Quarter

Under full-bore acceleration, you get a surge in the momentum, which may not shove you in the seats, but it does feel like it’s holding your hand to hurl you along gently. Of course, triple-digit speed arrives quickly, even before the DCT could work through all its seven gears. However, you get to hear that three-cylinder din under hard acceleration.

Hyundai Verna Left Side View

When driving at city speeds, since all the torque is available low down at around the 1500rpm mark, the motor feels relaxed, and there’s no need to wring the engine if you need to go faster or plan some quick overtakes. The linear characteristics of the three-cylinder make it very usable and easy to drive too. Out on the highway, the DCT keeps the revs around 2000rpm while leisurely cruising at triple-digit speeds. Talking about the gearbox, the dual-clutch unit is jerk-free and smooth in upshifts and downshifts, with no lags whatsoever. It also maintains the correct gear almost every time – whether you intend to cruise along or do some quick dashes between the traffic – without letting you realise the gearshifts. You can also slot the lever into S and take control of shifts manually. The conveniently-placed paddle-shifters behind the steering does provide the liberty of shifting with your fingertips too. We noticed the electronically-controlled DCT tends to upshift itself closer to redline, regardless whether you are in D or S mode.

Hyundai Verna Left Front Three Quarter

As for the steering, it is light to operate and is also direct, with less than two-and-half turns lock-to-lock. Surprisingly, it is not vague off the centre either and weighs up nicely as the speed increases, which is reassuring when you want to be enthusiastic behind the wheel. Hyundai seems to have worked the suspension for the Turbo trim, as the ride quality is now well sorted. The sedan never scraped even once over a speed-breaker, which is commendable too. At low speeds, it has a firm composition to it, but it’s far from being uncomfortable. It also feels taut and there’s less body roll – if not completely absent since it is still tuned for comfort. And as the speed increases, the suspensions manage to absorb undulation and irregularities with aplomb, even sharper edges are well taken care of and you don’t hear the suspension working inside the cabin. With good high-speed stability and a spirited engine, it is easy to push the car closer to its limits, but we expected a little more initial bite and less spongy feel from the brakes for more confidence while pushing the limits.

Hyundai Verna left rear three quarter

Should I buy one?

Hyundai Verna Left Front Three Quarter

Hyundai is offering the Verna Turbo in a single, fully-loaded trim with an ex-showroom tag of Rs 14 lakh. For the price, you get a handsome-looking sedan with a standout styling, feature-loaded interior and a new engine which will make you yearn for the driver’s seat more often than you’d imagine. The new Verna has good drivability too with its refined engine, sorted suspensions, butter-smooth gearbox and a balanced steering. It does score some points on the fun-to-drive factor too, yet it is easy to live with. So if you love driving yet want a comfortable family car, there’s not much that dictates against buying the Verna Turbo.

Hyundai Verna Right Rear Three Quarter

Where does it fit in?

Hyundai Verna Front view

The Verna is currently the newest car in the C-segment before the new-gen Honda City arrives.  But it isn’t the only one in the segment with a turbo-petrol engine. There’s the Volkswagen Vento TSI on sale, and the Skoda Rapid TSI is on its way. On the other hand, both the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and upcoming City have no intentions of getting the turbo-petrol powertrain anytime soon.

Pictures by Kapil Angane

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Hyundai Verna Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 10.47 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 10.9 Lakhs onwards
Delhi₹ 10.24 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 10.58 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 10.59 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 10.16 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 10.49 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 10.08 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 9.93 Lakhs onwards
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