Home > Auto > Cars > 2020 Hyundai Verna petrol automatic review: Building on sedan strengths

Verna has been a flag bearer for Hyundai in the C-segment sedans and has found many takers over the years despite the falling fortunes of the segment in its entirety. At a time when SUVs of all shapes and sizes rule the roads, Verna has managed to still evoke second - possibly third - glances thanks to its sharp looks while its driving dynamics have long evoked appreciative gasps.

Looking to build on these strengths and cement its position, Hyundai brought out the 2020 Verna earlier this year and promised to make it even more appealing than before. Does the 2020 Verna come good on the genes it inherits and make a case for itself not just in its segment but to also veer admirers of SUVs towards it? Read on.

2020 Verna looks premium from every angle. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
2020 Verna looks premium from every angle. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

Mechanics

Hyundai, unlike Maruti Suzuki, has opted to continue with its diesel offerings and has its own share of reasons for it. The company reports a strong demand for its diesel variants across its product portfolio and the 2020 Verna was always going to offer every option possible. So, apart from the 1.5-litre diesel engine, the face lift Verna also offers a 1.0-litre turbo-GDI petrol and a 1.5-litre petrol options.

The turbo is the new favoured child of Hyundai but this review chose to focus on the regular petrol engine - downsized from the 1.6-litre unit - which delivers 113 bhp and has max torque of 144Nm. The unit is mated to a six-speed manual transmission unit or a CVT.

The review model here had the CVT option.

Aesthetics

The front two seats inside the Verna top-end offers cooling functionality. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The front two seats inside the Verna top-end offers cooling functionality. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

From under the hood to inside the cabin, there are several upgrades in the 2020 Verna to keep it contemporary and help it mount a renewed challenge to its direct rivals. While the layout of the dashboard is largely similar to the preceding model, the new Verna offers comfortable seats with ventilation at the front, dual-tone upholstery, an eight-inch infotainment screen and connected car features. The main screen is positioned prominently and manages to negate glare well. It is also quite simple to use and responds to touch inputs well.

The infotainment unit resembles a pop-out tablet and negates glare well. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The infotainment unit resembles a pop-out tablet and negates glare well. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

The information display behind the wheel is now all digital and while all the digits and data are large and easily visible, it appears a little arcade-ish.

The information display screen for the driver is now all digital. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The information display screen for the driver is now all digital. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

Hyundai has equipped the Verna with wireless charging and there are storage spaces aplenty all around the car.

Hard plastics dominate the materials used on the dash and on side doors, and this is a let down.

The biggest let down, however, is comfort for rear-seat passengers. Yes, the passengers at the back do get dedicated AC vents and charging points but these would matter little if their legs are cramped. Verna has always had a step-motherly treatment towards passengers at the back and, unfortunately, this continues in the latest version as well. Under-thigh support is just about adequate but the sloping roofline of the car also cuts down on headroom for tall passengers.

There is just not enough space for adults in the back-seat of the 2020 Verna. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
There is just not enough space for adults in the back-seat of the 2020 Verna. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

Overall, the seats are quite comfortable but the Verna still lags behind rivals in space offered for passengers at the back - a big and continuing drawback.

Visuals

There is just no complaining when it comes to how the Verna looks from the outside. It has, quite easily, the most striking looks among its peers and designers at Hyundai deserve a big thumbs up yet again.

The imposing front grille on the new Verna makes it look even more prolific than before. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The imposing front grille on the new Verna makes it look even more prolific than before. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

The 2020 Verna has subtle changes to its looks and that works for the car extremely well. A more imposing front grille with a dark chrome theme, re-designed LED head lights, and sharp cutting bonnet lines make the 2020 Verna stand out once again.

The side profile remains similar to the outgoing model but the new alloys bring in a touch of freshness while the rear also appears similar barring the re-designed LED tail lights and a changed bumper with faux diffuser.

The Verna offers 480 litres of boot space. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The Verna offers 480 litres of boot space. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

Overall, the new Verna maintains its athletic profile while adding a touch of premium sportiness to make it a visual treat.

Drive

The 2020 Verna may have a smaller petrol engine now but it has hardly made any difference to how eager this car is on the move.

The 2020 Verna is at ease in city conditions as well as on open highway roads. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)
The 2020 Verna is at ease in city conditions as well as on open highway roads. (HT Auto photo/Sabyasachi Dasgupta)

Verna has long been known to be a car that begs to be driven and the facelift builds on that heritage. The 1.5-litre engine hums along well and responds generously when the pedal is pushed for some extra momentum. It is helped ably by a CVT unit that performs as per expectations and keeps the gear shifts in check without much of the proverbial rubber-band effect.

The ride quality is also top-notch and the suspension unit dealt with every challenge on the road with characteristic ease. A bit of work on enhancing the NVH levels would have meant a perfect ten on ten but a nine isn't too shabby either.

2020 Verna is helped by a steering that is moderately weighted and because of this, the straight-line acceleration towards triple-digits and maintaining those digits won't be any trouble whatsoever. And when it comes to slowing things down, the brakes suffice and the steering allows for precise cornering abilities.

Verdict

2020 Verna builds on its two strengths - drive and looks. Its smaller petrol engine is more than capable of keeping the enthusiasts engaged even if the turbo is where their real hearts may be set at. The car is nimble enough on city roads and confident out on open highways. Plus its savvy looks are a massive bonus.

Rear-seat space, once again, is where the Verna loses out big time.

So, for smaller families looking for some sedan spunk, the Verna will continue to make a whole lot of sense for everyday drives and occasional highway runs. For those who may prioritize rear-seat comfort though, it would be a let down.

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