2017 Honda City: First Drive Review
- Feb 16, 2017
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About a month ago my colleague Muntaser Mirkar returned from Dubai after having driven the new Hyundai Verna and was rather impressed with the vehicle in terms of performance and design. At this juncture in time, he told me that it would be worth the wait for the ‘Indian Spec’ version, as the international versions come packed to the hilt with gizmos and gadgetry, and it would be good to observe just what Hyundai Motor India brings to the market in terms of kit and accessories. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long, for recently I found myself on a flight to Coimbatore to get to experience the Indian specification Hyundai Verna for the first time.
While on my flight I got to reminisce about the Hyundai Verna. The car has been around in the market for quite some time now; however it hasn’t made the inroads one expected it to make. Don’t get me wrong, the Verna has sold in decent numbers over the years and it even received a makeover in the form of the Verna Transform, which again generated a decent market response. However one thing was certain, to make a solid dent in the sales of the Honda City, the Verna would have to be nothing short of spectacular. With that thought in mind, it was time to de-board the plane and get driving towards Kodaikanal, but first up was the official introduction to the new Hyundai Verna.
Lay your eyes on the new Hyundai Verna in the flesh and you are definitely going to find yourself staring. Gone are the plain-jane looks, and what you have in front of you is a car that looks as though it went to the gym, developed great character lines and came back wearing some nice stretched metal. The new Verna boasts of a fluidic design theme that extends to every element, be it the large lights, the roof line or the rear lights. The coupe-like silhouette and large wheels work well to give the car a rather sporty stance that is bound to make this new car stand out amongst its peers. No doubt, Hyundai has gone all out on the new Verna and has stayed away from anything conventional resulting in a visual treat.
Get inside the Verna and you are greeted by a well sculpted dashboard that boasts of plastics that give a solid feel. The overall treatment to the interiors is rather up market including leather upholstery; however the switches and the plastic bits on the doors could do with a bit of improvement. Nevertheless, the fresh interiors have been matched with an equal number of goodies starting from a neat start-stop button, so the keys can just remain in your pocket! Hyundai is obviously leaving no stone unturned for they have packed the new Verna to the hilt which includes a high end music system with integrated USB, i-pod and Aux-in connectivity, a driver information system, a rear view camera with a display on the inside rear view mirror, Bluetooth connectivity, a cooled glove box and a cluster ionizer fitted to the air-conditioning system in order to circulate clean air at all times; much like the A/C systems employed in offices and homes today. In terms of safety, the car comes fitted with six airbags, ABS and EBD. All this adds up to make the Verna quite the package that should make the competition sit up and take heed.
In terms of engine offerings, Hyundai, once again, has come up with a strategy that should allow them to make great inroads in their target market segment. On offer is a choice of four engine options! First up is the 1.4 litre petrol unit that makes 107PS@ 6300rpm and 138Nm of torque @ 5000 rpm. This is followed by a 1.4 diesel unit that makes 90PS@ 4000 rpm and a decent 224Nm of torque between 1750-2750 rpm. These engines obviously target the likes of the Ford Fiesta and the Toyota Etios, however to take on the likes of the SX4, VW Vento and Honda City, Hyundai is also bringing in the 1.6 litre petrol unit that makes 123PS @ 6300 rpm and churns out 158Nm of torque @ 4200 rpm as well as the 1.6 litre diesel unit that makes a solid 128PS @ 4000 rpm and generates 265Nm of torque between 1900-2750 rpm. The 1.6 litre petrol and diesel units are also offered with automatic transmission. With this slew of engine and transmission options, Hyundai is sure that there is a Verna that will definitely suit your need.
It was finally time to undertake the 200 kilometer drive to Kodaikanal. The drive out of Coimbatore all the way to Palani is made up of brilliant roads that allow for fast speeds. The Verna held its own and was a rather comfortable drive along the plains. The straight roads and lack of traffic meant we were in nirvana country for drivers and it was a delight to pilot the new Verna along such highways. Then came the twisties, or rather over 50 kilometers of twisties that comprise of the ghat road from Palani to Kodaikanal.
The soft suspension set up on the Verna, which worked great for in city driving as well as cruising along the highway, now made the car slightly nervous. Climbing up the mountain roads it was more than evident that the backseat passengers would not have a good time thanks to the back stepping out of line on tight corners. One can argue that most people won’t push their car as hard, however the fact remains that the soft suspension does take away a little from the handling. Having said that, the Verna is destined to be used primarily in cities, and for that purpose it is a brilliant car that offers a comfortable ride.
At the end of the day, the Verna comes across as a formidable package. Not only in terms of design, style and accessories, but in the nature that it has evolved. The new car has been built from ground up to be a three box sedan, not a hatchback with a boot, and this shows in its well appointed and spacious interiors as well as trunk space. It offers a rather decent balance between ride and handling, and the numerous engine options will go a long way in catering to a variety of customers. So, to answer the question of whether Hyundai has managed to make the car spectacular, I will say that they have come mighty close and the likes of the Volkswagen Vento, Honda City and the upcoming new Ford Fiesta had better take notice. On a similar note, the SX4 petrol and diesel, the Toyota Etios and the Ford Fiesta Classic should also be aware of this new kid on the block.
Recommended Variant : Verna 1.6 SX CRDi
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