As if it is not enough that sedans in India have to compete against the onslaught of SUVs, there is bitter competition from within as well which makes the segment extremely competitive for every inch that is up for grabs. Earlier this year, Hyundai ramped up its game by driving in the Verna 2020 and lockdowns aside, the car has received a decent response. Now, Honda has unleashed its trusty war horse in the form of City 2020 - complete with new tack that seeks to revitalize the battle-hardened product that refuses to fade away into the sunset.
HT Auto test drove both Hyundai Verna 2020 and Honda City 2020 over the course of the past several weeks - petrol automatic units of both, and the strengths and weaknesses of each were amply clear. Both cars are expected to go for each others' throats but may also tend to attract a greatly different sedan buying audience.
So, what are these differences and what could they mean for the new Verna and City. Read on.
Is it all in the looks?
Verna has easily been the best-looking car in its segment. And by far. 2020 Verna takes the visual opulence a notch above and stands out thanks to its sporty looks. The massive front grille, the sporty alloys, the swooping roofline and classic LED tail lights lend the vehicle a sharp profile that truly epitomises Hyundai's 'Sensuous Sportiness' design philosophy.
The City has been more regal than sporty in its appearance thus far but the latest edition closes the gap quite significantly. The reworked front grille, the sharp LED head lights, the 'Katana sword'-like body line on the side and re-done alloys make this the best-looking City in quite some time now. Is it as appealing as Verna? Different eyes will take in different views and give out differing opinions but two factors are amply clear - a) Verna still rules the looks department and b) not by much because the City is quite a looker in its own right.
Crown that cabin
The Verna's cabin has been updated with a slew of new additions in terms of features. The eight-inch infotainment screen is easy to use and the sound system is decent. The MID screen behind the wheel is large and completely digital. The ventilated seats, wireless charging, electronic sunroof- all make the cabin a loaded cabin.
City, however, is more likely to wear the crown because while both vehicles make generous use of hard plastics - such a shame, but the premiumness of the seats in the Honda are just leagues above. The front headrests are shaped in a sophisticated and the car hits Verna where it hurts the most - rear seat comfort. There is just no comparison between the knee room, leg room and head room that the City offers and what is on offer inside the Verna.
Both cars have decent levels of seat cushioning which would mean a comfortable long journey but five inside the Verna would be a cramped getaway.
Without dwelling into the mundane numerics of power and torque, it is a must to declare that the new Verna is still the more fun car to drive and push around than the new City. The rubber-band effect of the auto transmission is present in both cars but is far less pronounced - still - in the Hyundai than in the Honda. Out on open roads, the Verna is just so much eager that it can be quite a driver's delight. And this is just the 1.5-litre petrol engine. The 1.0 turbo petrol claims to be even more fun but that's just rubbing it in.
That said, the new City is no sloucher and offers a very comfortable ride quality. NVH levels are comparable and the shockers in the Honda are softer than the ones in the Hyundai. This means the new City handles speed breakers slightly better than the Verna does.
If driving dynamics are priority, the new Verna scores handsomely.
If comfort quotient is high, the new City punches back.
Both Hyundai and Honda are quite renowned for their service networks and service costs so there really cannot be much to comment on that.
In the end, both Verna 2020 and City 2020 are positive improvements but it would depend on what a prospective buyer chooses to prioritise.
If looks and driving capabilities are of utmost importance, Verna still holds the trump card but if a premium cabin and comfortable commutes for a family of four to five matter most, the City edges forward.