Ahead of the launch of the new Hyundai Verna RB in India, I managed to wriggle out one test car from Hyundai Motors India Limited. From the time I saw the vehicle, I could imagine all sorts of copying in the designs which Hyundai must have done to make this all new car. The 2011 Hyundai Verna in India test drive was strictly for 20 minutes and hence I have tried to detail as many points as I could. More details about the engines was given later on by one of Hyundai’s PR person. To start with, I am sure that most of you would be really wondering if that’s the new Ford Fiesta or a Hyundai Verna. The new Verna looks more like the former. Cover the badge and you would be hard pressed to notice the difference. That is not to take away anything from the Ford Fiesta or the Hyundai’s “fluidic concept” designers.
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The swooped dashboard and those eagle eyed head lamps along with the well sculpted grille cut a distinct figure. The fog lamps mirror those in the Volvo S60 and are L shaped. The wing mirrors have been borrowed from BMWs, the side profile from the Ford Focus. The side profile is more interesting that the front one with its coupe like stance and at the same time, the rear profile has cues from both the earlier Verna. This all new Verna is actually the 7th generation Hyundai Accent. However in India since both this vehicles sell side by side, the new Accent is called the new Hyundai Verna. The overall height of this car is lowered down and its length has been increased. The tyres are also bigger in profile now. However disappointment creeps in when one sees the not so prominent tail pipe. The Hyundai Verna Transform atleast had a big fat tail pipe.
Pulling the tug door handles reveal a vastly improved cabin from the 2010 Verna. Not that the latter was very bad or anything. It is just that the new one is a class apart. None and by this I mean none of the existing cars in its segment have such an elaborate and lavishly designed cabin. The meter dials may look downright simple but then the MID or the multi information display system provides a wide array of information and at the same time look extremely pleasing to the eyes. Unfortunately the 3 spoked steering wheel doesn’t have the audio controls on it. The perception of high quality however does get marred with the slightly awkward panel gaps towards the door. However Hyundai has said that they would be rectifying this before the final launch of the car. What has improved is the feel of the cabin and the materials used. These materials may even eclipse the quality of those used in the Verna, the Honda City not withstanding. What is however disappointing is the lack of storage spaces. The door map pockets are shallow and can’t hold much by the way. The seats also have a sort of fabric which would actually make the under thigh region to heat up after some time. No, I am not joking here but then that definitive itching feeling would be there after prolonged stints in the car. The switchgear however have a tactile feel to them and seem to be made of high quality materials. There are parking sensors, Bluetooth and USB/AUX input.
Comfort was never a problem with the old Verna and the 2011 Hyundai Verna in India goes one step above it by providing extra leg room at the rear. The coupe like slanting roof line however robs one of valuable head room, especially if one happens to be 6 foot plus. Front seat for the passenger is comfortable however for the driver, it takes some time to get adjusted. Noticeable is the fact that there is a dead pedal as well. Coming back to the rear, the seating position is a bit low and the central bin cup holder does make life tedious for the middle seat passenger. The 465 liters boot space with its low loading lip is ultra useful though.
Well the short test drive couldn’t reveal anything major about the ride or handling however it revealed one thing that the steering wheel hasn’t changed much from the previous Verna. It is light for the city use however it feels a bit lifeless when the speeds are up or you want to change lanes urgently. That is to be expected from this electronic power steering unit. The handling as also the ride aspects can very much said to be similar to the older unit if not worse.
What is entirely new for India is the wide range of engines on offer. Yes, the new Hyundai Verna would have 4 engines, two diesel and two petrol. Transmission options would also be a 6 and 5 speed manual as also a 4 speed automatic one. What is surprising is that Hyundai has chosen to give India all new engines. None of the engines from the current Verna have been repeated. Infact 3 of the engines are new units whereas one is carried over from the Hyundai i20. Though Hyundai didn’t name which engine will have which transmission, the most powerful petrol motor is supposed to have the 6 speed manual transmission. The reason being, this was the test model that I had was the same. The 1.6 liter Gamma motor produces 122 Bhp of power. The 6 speed manual gear box felt exactly like the unit in the Vento. However the transition from 4th to 5th is a bit rubbery. Couldn’t check out the 6th one though as ran out of road and remember, the test drive was very short one. Unfortunately couldn’t even take pictures of the same. About the engines, there is a 1.4 petrol with a power output of 107 Bhp whereas the diesels are also 1.4 and 1.6 units. The 1.4 is the one carried over from the I20 and is in the same state of tune here. The 1.6 diesel pumps out 126 Bhp of power and 26.5 kgm of torque. However the transmissions running them can be either of the three available.
To sum it all, the 2011 Hyundai Verna in India is an important product for India as they set to topple the current reigning kings in this segment, the Volkswagen Vento and the Honda City. With the new Fiesta coming in it, it is a battle which is to be seen rather than read. Don’t worry, we at Indiandrives are also planning on a video review section. So once the car is launched, we would also carry out a video review of this car. As far as prices, go, they should be between Rs 7-10 lakhs. Well when Hyundai India do launch this car, I hope that the prices stay true like the old model and don’t go overboard like the Honda City.