The Hyundai Verna was launched in India in 2006 and was one of the most reliable cars in the market but looked bland and depriciated fast, which meant that the Verna did not sell well and was no cause of worry for its rivals. However Hyundai was smart enough to learn from what it had done wrong and went back to the drawing board. Applying its new “Fludic Design” philosophy it was able to make a new and improved version of the Verna.
The new Verna was launched in 2011 with petrol and diesel options for a 1.4 litre and a 1.6 litre. The diesel variants due to its fuel economy was so popular that it exceeded the sales target Hyundai had set, resulting in a 4 month waiting period. The new Verna had safety and comfort options of 6 airbags which (then) was the only car to do so. It was also much better looking than its predecessor. The result was that it took the mantle of the best selling car (for the first time) from the Honda City.
It seems that the success of the Verna was short lived as the Honda City pushed its way back into the competion and the Maruti Ciaz, an equally good looking rival pushed it into third. In 2014 Hyundai tried to give the Verna a makeover with alloy wheels , projector headlamps, day time running LED lamps on the exterior. One of the problems with the new Verna was that its steering was too light which made high speed driving difficult since the slightest input could make the car change direction .It also had a soft suspension setup which suits a city but on the highway the ride gets a little harsh. To address these issues Hyundai made the steering heavier and the suspensions stiffer, giving it a good balance between city and highway handling. However these changes were not enough to give the Verna sales a much needed boost as the Verna sonld only 1,620 cars compared to the Honda City (7,671) and Maruti Ciaz (6,005) .
Now Hyundai is back with a new facelifted version of the Verna with new bumpers, elongated fog lamps, larger head and tail lamps, a dual-slat chrome grille, new reflectors on the rear bumper and a few others. The side profile has received almost change. On the inside the Verna is the same with a slightly heavier steering and stiffer suspension to address the handling issues that were present in the previous models.Also it is equipped with an ergo lever for the front seat that can be used to push the seat forward from the rear seat which was first seen on the. It was first seen in the segment in the Volkswagen Vento with an audio system getting 1 GB of internal memory. However missing from the car is a touch screen for infotainment system and rear aircon vents both of which are present on the Grand i10 and Xcent.
With the Verna going on sale alongside the Maruti Ciaz and the Honda City the Verna faces an uphill battle since the Verna is shorter and lower than its rivals and only marginally wider than the City. Even the boot capicty is smaller (465 litres) compared to the Ciaz and the City (both 510 litres). Engine wise the Verna has a 107bhp or 123bhp engine against the City which has a 119bhp engine and the Ciaz with a 92bhp engine for petrol variants. For the diesel variants the Verna has a 90bhp or 128bhp option against the City with 100bhp and Ciaz with 90 bhp. With the base petrol model of the Verna costing Rs.50,000 more than the Ciaz and 20,000 more than the City Hyundai has slightly overpriced the car.The diesel variants are also expensive starting at Rs.8.8 lakh, 10,000 more than the City and 60,000 more than the Ciaz. The higher variants cost more around a lakh more and despite the changes and improvements in the car, a price increase is not justified the Hyundai is a challenger in the segment. Hyundai might have been carried away with the success of the i20 Elite, despite its steep price. The i20 lacks serious competition, but Verna does not and has capable rivals. The result is that the Verna is a sensible car but as long it is more expensive against its rivals it willl have a tough tie getting back to the top.