It is exactly three year’s since I visited Hyundai’s R&D facility in Namyang Korea and at that time I had written about how this car manufacturer is going to be a force to reckon with in the future. The R&D set up is like a small township and it has everything for a designer, from a wind tunnel to a banked oval in order to to test the finished product. The engineers have all the necessary tools to build a state-of-the-art automobile. Hyundai is moving forward in improving their cars. The i10 is one of the best small cars and the i20 is a class leader in looks and interior space in the hatch-back segment. Last year they also set a benchmark with the all new Santa Fe and now Hyundai is all set to take on the sedans with the new Verna.
The Verna started life as Pony Hyundai’s first product way back in 1976 and has come a long way since then by becoming one of the top-selling models globally. The new car follows in the footsteps of the i20 in the Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy of Hyundai. The large hexagonal grill blends nicely with the two-tone bezel headlamps and the L shaped fog lamps. The side character lines start above the fog lamps and extend all the way to the rear of the car. The coupe-like roof line and the sixteen inch alloys give the car a sporty stance.
The sporty theme is carried forward in the interiors of the car as the character lines flow throughout the cabin. High-gloss black and metallic colours give a futuristic and high- tech look to the interiors. There is a good amount of leg room for the occupants at the front and rear and can fit three people in the back seat. The quality and fit finish of the interiors is top class.
The new Verna test drive was held in Dubai and we only had the option of driving the 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines with a five speed manual and a four speed auto box. The Drive from Dubai to Fujairah and back was around 350km with a lot of open highways with a small mountain section to test the car’s handling capabilities.
The new generation Gamma engine is a refined power plant as you have to look down at the rpm meter to see if the engine is on. The 1.6 engine develops a healthy 124 PS and a 154nm of torque. The power delivery is leaner and it gets stronger as the rpm goes up. The five speed manual gearbox has a good shift and the well-spaced gear ratios give the car a good drive ability in town and an excellent cruising capability.
The suspension set up is McPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. The ride quality is on the firm side as expected, with the low profile sixteen inch wheels. The firm ride quality combined with the low profile tyres gives the car superb handling.
In fact, the Verna has come a long way in its ride and handling capability when compared to the previous model as this car behaves more like a European car. The NVH level in the cabin is very good as there is hardly any road or wind noise penetrating into the cabin. During the 350km drive in the Middle-East heat the Verna cabin was nice place to be in as the AC kept the temperature down to a comfortable level.
We did not get an opportunity to test the top speed of the car as they are strict with their speed limit of 120kmph but I did manage to get her up to 160kmph and she was rock steady. What really impressed me was the handling of this car in the mountain section as she held on to her line around the corners as these were high speed sweeping turns, taken in excess of 110kmph. After driving the new Verna it is very obvious that Hyundai are intent on improving the quality of their cars.