2018 Toyota Yaris AT vs Hyundai Verna AT comparison: Specifications, features and more
Toyota has made its long overdue entry in the hotly-contested, premium mid-size sedan segment, with the introduction of the Yaris. To take on the competition, Toyota has packed the Yaris to the brim with many features that are not just first in class, but also not seen on cars even from a segment above. This strategy has been successfully executed by companies like Hyundai over the years, and what Toyota has also focused on, uniquely, is safety. So, in many ways, it starts out with an advantage. But is that enough for it to win? Or will the Verna, the best petrol-automatic in this class, manage to stay ahead?
Step into the Yaris and there is a sense of familiarity here. The layout has a neat flow to it and the use of contrasting materials like silver accents, piano black inserts for the dashboard work well. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment takes centre stage, and though it looks like an aftermarket addition, functionality is fair. Also practical are the big air con vents, with the buttons and knobs around it functioning with a slickness that's impressive. The glovebox is cooled, and there are quite a few cubbyholes and bottle holders around the cabin as well.
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The front seats are nice and broad and achieve a balance between soft and supportive. There is good legroom and headroom, thanks to seat height adjust. And the driver's seat can be adjusted electrically on the top two variants, a first in this segment. Get in the back, and the Yaris' sloping roofline, roof-mounted air con vents and the relatively high window line gives the cabin a cramped feel. The headroom is adequate, if you're under 6ft, but legroom, surprisingly, is good, despite the Yaris having the shortest wheelbase in the segment. The backrest is perfectly reclined, the overall support for the shoulders is better than on the Verna, and under-thigh support is another plus.
The interior of the Verna is bit more reserved and modern-looking. Straightforward and simple, there is no clutter or oblique design cues here. Also, the all-black interiors look posh and the subtle use of silver accents in some places gives it a classy look. It feels more luxurious and more expensive. The buttons and knobs are built better than the Yaris', and the quality of materials is a step up from the Toyota; the Verna really does give off a bit of a luxury vibe. The front seats are broad and comfy. Cushioning, however, is a tad firm and the biggest issue is that the rear seats are placed low, and you are sat with your knees up. Headroom is at a premium too, but legroom is better here. At 480 litres, the Verna's got the larger boot, but the high loading lip makes loading and unloading a bit cumbersome.
Toyota has equipped the Yaris lavishly when it comes to equipment. Important safety features are available even on base variants. For example, all models get seven airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, and three-point seat belts for all passengers as standard. Other kit includes a cooled glovebox and an audio system. The top trim gets the works - a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, gesture control, keyless entry/go, electric driver's seat, roof-mounted air vents, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, automatic headlamps, ESP and front parking sensors.
The Verna too, is loaded with kit like projector headlamps with LED DRLs, cooled front seats, a sunroof, cruise control, reverse camera with parking sensors, Isofix tethers and an equally impressive six airbags on the top SX trim. The 7.0-inch infotainment system here also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Yaris comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that makes 107hp, mated to a seven-step CVT automatic gearbox. Refinement levels impress as soon as you start off; there are no vibrations at the steering wheel, the cabin feels nicely insulated, and, even when you increase the pace a bit, there's no din inside. Initial power delivery is also good, and the car moves effortlessly. Ask for more power, however, and the whine from the CVT increases, but there's no real increase in acceleration, and, as a result, performance in the mid-range feels flat. Where you feel the relative lack of power is on the highway, where the Yaris takes its own time getting to higher speed.
Powering the Hyundai Verna is a larger 1.6-litre petrol that makes a class-best 123hp. It's mated to a conventional six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox but doesn't get paddle-shifters. Engine refinement levels are fantastic, even better than the Yaris, and you barely notice it idling. There is good pulling power even at low engine speeds, power flow in the mid-range is strong, and driving this car with your right foot down can be a satisfying experience. Performance, in fact, is so much stronger than the Yaris' that it is a full 2.0sec faster from 0-100kph.
At higher speeds, the Yaris' steering feels extremely vague and feedback to the driver is poor. So, as speeds build, confidence fades away. Ride comfort is a big plus, though. While at city speeds, there is a hint of firmness, up the speed and the Yaris tackles broken roads and potholes with tremendous composure. The brakes too are another highlight of the Yaris. It is only when you're in traffic that you feel the brake pedal is a bit too sensitive, and progress, as a result, gets slightly jerky.
Braking, however, is where the Verna falls short. The pedal needs more effort than usual, and even when you push down hard in an emergency, the bite isn't as assuring as on a Yaris. Ride comfort at low speeds is decent, but as the speed rises, you feel more of the broken roads inside the cabin as the Verna thuds through potholes a bit more and tosses you around as well.
So, the Yaris might be a bit late to the party, but it has its strengths. Cabin space is generous, rear-seat comfort is better than the Verna's and there's a clear emphasis on safety which is something to appreciate. However, there are shortcomings. The Yaris doesn't excite in the way it looks or the way it drives, and it is quite pricey by class standards. It's hard to justify that ₹1.5 lakh premium over the Verna automatic.
The Hyundai, on the other hand looks and feels like a bigger car, the quality of the interiors is a step up from the Toyota's, and while it may be down on a few features, the ones that are extra, like the ventilated seats, are of more value to our market. It's also much nicer to drive, and what makes it a well-rounded package, is that it is likely to be just as well-looked-after and serviced as the Toyota. In all, the Verna is the more rounded package, and remains the most complete petrol automatic mid-size sedan on sale in India today.