Hyundai Verna 2023, first-drive review: Brave foray into a vastly-changed world
- Fresh looks
- Extended feature list
- Powerful turbo petrol motor
- More rear-seat space
- No diesel engine option
The sedan segment may have ceded a lot of ground to SUVs of all shapes, sizes and at varying price points but recent times have seen a dedicated effort to inject some life into this segment. And after the launch of the Honda City facelift earlier this year, it is the 2023 Hyundai Verna that has attempted to not just grab the spotlight but to keep it on itself.
The Hyundai Verna has been a fairly successful model for the Koreans in India even if its fortunes have dipped with dipping fortunes of the segment as a whole. The Verna has had to fight for every small inch of space that is still available against the likes of Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Honda City as well as newer rivals like Skoda Slavia and Volkswagen Virtus.
First launched in India back in 2006, the third-generation model that underline its powerful drive credentials. Updates next came in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2020, and now, it is time for the sixth-generation Hyundai Verna to potentially rekindle India's long-lost love affair with sedans. Does it have the spark? Here is the first-drive review of 2023 Hyundai Verna:
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Hyundai Verna 2023: Radical new look
The 2023 Hyundai Verna looks nothing like it ever has over the past 15 years and purely in terms of its styling, is a big gamble from the Koreans. Now Hyundai is one of the bravest in the automotive world when it comes to flamboyant styling elements and overall design philosophies. On the new Verna too, whether is is the swooping bonnet, the stretched LED positioning lamp and DRLs, the redesigned front headlights or the blackened chrome parametric grille, this sedan sure does look new.
The sixth-generation Hyundai Verna is also longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the preceding Verna. Although still not class-leading in these aspects, the car does boast of a best-in-segment boot space of 528 litres. And while that means packing for long journeys ought to be easier, there is also the promise of more cabin space, something that has always troubled Verna owners of the past.
|Hyundai Verna dimensions|
|Boot space||528 litres|
The new Verna sits on 16-inch wheels across variants but depending on the engine choice selected, the alloy design differs between diamond-cut silver or all-black with red brake calipers. And move to the rear and the plethora of updates just continue. Here, the Verna now gets a stretched LED light bar between the updated LED tail lights and updated bumper.
Personally, the design overhaul is a bit too much for me, almost appearing as an exercise in extravagance that will divide opinions. And the Verna's multiple exterior colour options also play a big role in how it appears on the outside - for instance, the Red looks outright funky while the Grey adds sobriety. But Hyundai seems to have nothing to lose when it comes to this segment and credit for going for a brazen design makeover. This cosmetic surgery has been done as much with knives as it has been with metaphorically bold paintbrush strokes.
Hyundai Verna 2023: Cabin calls
It is a whole new world inside the new Hyundai Verna. But the biggest highlight here is not just the redesigned and layered dashboard layout - in two colour themes, not the new integrated 10.25 curved infotainment system that blends in with the driver display screen, not the switchable controls between infotainment and climate control and not even the first-in-segment cooled as well as heated front seats. The biggest highlight is the generous bump up in rear-seat space. Legroom has gone up and the feeling of being cramped is now, thankfully missing. Knee room, head room and shoulder room are all quite acceptable as well.
The other highlights here include an eight-speaker Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, a re-designed - and cleaner - steering wheel layout with mounted controls, rear curtain, cooled glove box and plenty of storage and charging options. The leather-seat upholstery is also quite premium. So while the exterior updates will divide opinions, the cabin quality and feature list is more than likely to unite appreciation for just how premium this sedan now feels. Oh, and there also is a conventional sunroof which, well just for audacious purposes, could have been larger.
|EX||S||SX||SX(O)||SX Turbo||SX(O) Turbo|
|Comfort and convenience|
|Infotainment and connectivity|
Hyundai Verna 2023: Turbo-powered drive and ADAS
The new Verna 2023 has ditched its diesel engine option entirely. And it makes sense because with volumes in the sedan space anyway quite low, it may not make sense to update the diesel motor to stricter emission rules. Instead, the 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol unit has been carried forward and now is twining with a more powerful 1.5-litre turbo petrol motor.
This turbo petrol is more powerful than the 1.4 turbo petrol motor on the Creta and the tuning inside the Verna means the sedan offers 160 hp of max power. This is more than all of Verna's direct rivals. There is also 253 Nm of max torque which is slightly more than what Slavia and Virtus offers, and the same as the Honda City strong hybrid model.
In the real world, the Verna turbo is a monster to drive and paired with a six-speed manual transmission - there is also a 7-speed DCT, is an absolute driver's delight. The typically short gear throws, the light steering wheel and the instant response to the throttle inputs makes this sedan an extremely eager campaigner that satiates need for speed. But while the Verna turbo does hustle to triple-digit speeds without any fuss, it suffers from a complete lack of steering feedback on high speeds. The sedan may be relatively composed at high speeds but the likes of the Virtus and Slavia offer more confidence.
This is true for the Verna with the more genial petrol engine which, obviously, takes more time to build its way to triple digits but does also offer a composed drive experience. The slightly stiffer suspension set up helps the sedan tackle road aberrations well and the iVT automatic on our test unit was par for the course. NVH levels are under check even if the engine groan seeps in a bit when demanding for the motor to go above and beyond.
The Verna, however, is a confident car within city limits and is nearly effortless to drive due to the same light steering wheel. The respectable ground clearance ought to help the sedan tackle ungainly speed breakers and the ride quality is fairly decent.
As far as safety highlights of the 2023 Hyundai Verna are concerned, it comes with multiple airbags as standard, ABS with EBD, Hill-Start Assist Control, Electronic Stability Control, Automatic head lights, among others. And making its debut in the Verna is Level 2 ADAS as well. First seen on the latest Hyundai Tucson launched last year, Level 2 ADAS bring in highlights such as Forward Collision - Avoidance Assist, Blind-spot Collision - Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, High Beam Assist, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, among others. I have my serious reservations about ADAS application in Indian conditions and this is about the technology as a whole and not about ADAS on the Verna. On this particular model, we put Forward Collision, Lane Following Assist and Lane Keeping Assist to the test on a clear stretch of an expressway, and it worked as expected. But the unpredictable nature of Indian roads still means extreme caution and relentless attention is mandatory.
Hyundai Verna 2023: Verdict
The biggest talking point around the Hyundai Verna in its sixth-generation is its exterior styling and while credits due to the Koreans for lending the sedan a massive makeover, the styling sure is quite polarising. Sedan buyers could be a mature crop of customers who prefer understated styling cues and how well the new Verna's looks sits with their sense and sensibilities is anyone's guess.
But it is also true that here is a car that is chocker-blocked with premium features, a very capable turbo petrol motor that will make people forget there ever was a diesel motor, more rear-seat space and Level 2 ADAS for added bragging rights. Expected sales of the new Verna will most certainly inject a fresh lease of life to the segment as a whole but will it foster a revolution?