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Updated: February 4, 2014 18:55 IST

Changing with the times

AMEYA DANDEKAR
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Hyundai Verna
Hyundai Verna

In updating the Verna, Hyundai has made it better than it ever was without messing with the car’s strengths

India’s mid-size saloon segment recently saw much excitement with the launch of the latest rendition of Honda’s popular City saloon. Other carmakers like Hyundai are already taking up the cudgel to offer competitive rivals. The Korean carmaker has given its Verna saloon a midlife update. The top-end Verna SX CRDi now costs Rs 10.96 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), and here's what you get for it.

It looks better now, the 2014 car gets LED daytime running lamps, automatic projector lamps and pretty alloy wheels — updates that only add to the Verna’s already sharp looks. On the inside though, there’s not much — the two-tone dash with wood and silver inlays is quite appealing and the fit and finish and overall quality levels are impressive. Also, the front seats have superb bolstering and the Verna’s low dash makes it easy to see out of. If anything, the rear seats aren’t as nice as some of its rivals. The seat is low and lacks thigh support, and because of the Verna’s angular styling, the rear windows are quite small. What the Verna has in abundance though is equipment — there’s keyless entry and go, climate control, a rear-view camera and at least three ways to hook up your audio device.

Mechanically, there’s no change to the engine and transmission, so the engine still makes 126bhp and 26.5kgm of torque. Driving it in traffic necessitates a bit of gear-shifting because the engine falls off boost below 2000rpm; but there is good punch and more than enough power for stress-free overtaking and cruising. The engine is also one of the smoothest and quietest in its class.

One of our biggest complaints with the Verna was with its high-speed manners. For this car, Hyundai has tweaked the suspension settings and this has cured most of the old car’s nervousness at speed, its floatiness and its tendency to bottom out. The steering now also has more weight and the low-speed ride remains quite good. However, the suspension does still run out of travel over sharper bumps; this results in a painful thunk as the springs compress fully and hit the bump stops. And at speed, though it is much improved, the Verna still doesn’t like sudden avoidance manoeuvres, the rear feeling soggy when you make sudden inputs to the steering.

In updating the Verna, Hyundai has not messed with its strengths — the looks, the equipment, the refinement. And it has marginally improved on its weaknesses. Handling is now sharper and more confidence-inspiring, and the car bottoms out less. What lets it down then is the rear seat, which isn’t quite as comfortable as the others, the throttle lag which makes it less easy to drive in traffic and the fact that the ride and handling still need a bit more polishing. Still, there’s no denying that the Verna (Rs.10.96 lakh - ex-showroom, Delhi) is better than it ever was.

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