Hyundai Verna: Our observations after a day’s driving
Start the engine and it’s refined like a typical Hyundai and purrs away silently. Hyundai powertrains have always set NVH benchmarks and this car is no different.
Driving the Hyundai Verna 1.5L Turbo Gasoline DCT Automatic
1.5 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivers 158 hp at 6,300 rpm and 253 Nm at 1,500-3,500 rpm:
The previous generation of the Verna was equipped with a 1.0-liter turbocharged petrol engine with 118 hp, which didn’t find many buyers. Since the Volkswagen-Skoda twins have powerful turbo petrol engines this time, Hyundai opted for a larger engine in the Verna. The Creta’s 138hp 1.4-litre Kappa turbocharged petrol engine made sense, but had to be upgraded to meet emissions standards. The result is this Smartstream 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that’s still part of the Kappa family, delivering an impressive 158hp and 253Nm. These are the highest numbers in the segment, which should indicate the Verna is FAST.
Start the engine and it’s refined like a typical Hyundai and purrs away silently. Hyundai powertrains have always set NVH benchmarks and this car is no different. Shift to D or R and it gently crawls away. Crawling at city speeds isn’t very dramatic and the 1.5 liter engine is very well behaved. With light to medium throttle inputs, you can comfortably manage your daily commute. Compared to the old 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine in the Creta, throttle response is smoother and power delivery more linear. The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission also moves through first gears fairly seamlessly. However, we did find that the gearbox got a little confused on a few occasions when we drove through some traffic. The engine has a healthy bottom end and thanks to the turbocharger and direct injection you never run out of power. Just step on the accelerator when you need to close a gap in traffic or want to make a quick overtake, and the engine and transmission will do the rest.
Hit the open roads and you can let the Verna stretch its legs. Put your right foot down and before you know it you’ll hit the 120 km/h speed limit on the Autobahn. That’s the thing about turbocharged petrol – hitting the gas on an empty road can be pretty addictive. Acceleration is great and also feels a bit more linear than say the 1.5 TSI of the VW Skoda cars. The Turbo delivers a strong mid-range punch that takes care of any freeway overtakes. You can cruise the Autobahn at 100 km/h while the engine revs at a relaxed 1,800 rpm. Even at 120 km/h on the Delhi-Mumbai expressway, the engine feels relaxed, the rev counter shows 2,200 rpm. The Verna won’t break a sweat at these speeds all day long.
The dual-clutch transmission shifts through the gears quite seamlessly. Kickdown response time is quick enough and the transmission doesn’t hesitate to downshift 3 or even 4 gears at times to bring the engine into powerband. If you’re in the mood for some fun in the Ghats, switch to Sport mode and start flipping the paddle shifters for manual controls. The ECU will adjust the RPM and you will hear the engine’s sweet note. Yes, in my opinion the engine sounds nice and sporty at high revs. Although Hyundai has capped the max RPM at 5,900, which is too low, the engine at least sounds great when it hits that number. The paddle shifters are fairly responsive and you can extract some power from the engine by using them for quick overtakes or by keeping the engine in the powerband over some corners. There’s no “S” mode for the gearbox and if you push the car in sport mode you’ll find that you can’t rely solely on the gearbox to go fast. You have to control the gears with the paddle shifters and manually keep the engine in the powerband. I wouldn’t say that about the DSG in VW Skoda cars. The gearbox logic in the Slavia and Virtus 1.5 DSG is much better and better adapted to the driver’s requirements.
The Verna gets 3 driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport.
Eco Mode – Activate Eco mode when you want maximum fuel efficiency. Throttle response is muted, but given the power on tap, the mode is quite comfortable to use around town. In fact, we preferred driving in this mode in the city as the car is much smoother to drive. The auto start-stop function is activated automatically when you select Eco mode.
Normal Mode – This is the default mode and as the name suggests, it’s pretty normal to drive. The difference between normal and eco mode is very small.
Sport mode – Activate this mode if you want the car to be more responsive to your inputs. The throttle response is sharper and the transmission also lasts a little longer in the gears in this mode. The steering is also noticeably heavier, although not as severe as enthusiasts would like (more on that later). Sport mode isn’t something you’ll want to use around town, as driving can get a bit choppy.
Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH)
The 1.5-liter unit is very cultivated overall. Both at city speed and when cruising at 100 km/h, the engine can hardly be heard inside. Even the vibrations are well controlled and cruising down the highway with family should be pretty comfortable. Road noise from the tires creeps into the cabin at highway speeds, but wind noise is kept well in check. At high revs, the engine has a sporty touch.
mileage and fuel consumption
The Verna is equipped with an auto start-stop function that supports fuel efficiency in city traffic. ARAI-certified fuel efficiency for the 1.5-litre turbo petrol DCT is a whopping 20.6 km/l and for the 6-speed MT is 20 km/l. Of course the real world FE numbers will be much lower considering that turbocharged gasoline DCTs are very sensitive to driving style. We’re waiting for some owner reports to get a better idea of real-world fuel efficiency.
The Verna gets a McPherson strut axle at the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. Higher variants are fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55 tires. Like most Hyundais, the Verna is trimmed for comfort and has an absorbing ride. The slow ride is comfortable and appreciated by most people. The suspension also absorbs small bumps and potholes very quietly. Large potholes register in the cabin. Some body movement can be felt in the cabin on bad roads, but it doesn’t get very uncomfortable.
Handling & Dynamics
The previous generation Verna and some of the older Hyundais were notorious for feeling like they were floating at high speeds. The new Verna has improved somewhat in this regard. At high speeds the car is stable and feels very stable at 100-120 km/h. That means there’s still a bit of vertical movement at high speeds while navigating over bumps and expansion joints – it takes a few bobs before you settle down.
If we talk about the dynamics of the car, understand that the Verna has soft suspension. That doesn’t mean really good driving characteristics and is in stark contrast to the sportiness of the engine. Come into a turn and the turn is sharp as the heavy front end keeps the nose planted. The car is easy to steer into corners, but then it counters with a decent body roll. If you pick up a little more speed, you’ll encounter some understeer as well. Quickly change direction from one corner to the other and you can actually feel the entire weight shift happening behind you. In most road driving conditions, the car holds its line well. The chassis doesn’t really complement the powerful engine, though, and enthusiasts will look for stiffer springs as a first upgrade. In comparison, the Skoda Slavia and Volkswagen Virtus, while less powerful, offer a lot more for enthusiasts when it comes to handling and dynamics.
The EPS is lightweight and easy to use at park and city speeds. That’s what you expect from a Hyundai. For city driving and occasional highway driving, this steering is just perfect. It weighs adequately on the freeways and there’s little blur in the middle. From an enthusiast’s point of view, however, nothing is offered. It also feels very decoupled and light at high speeds and in Sport mode.
Only the top turbo petrol variant with DCT gets all-wheel disc brakes. All other variants, including the turbo petrol manual transmission, get drum brakes at the rear. Stopping power from the four-wheel disc brake setup is good and we didn’t encounter any issues during our test ride. The pedal also feels good and has a progressive feel.
little things & problems
Hyundai is not a company associated with poor reliability and poor customer service. Although most of the feedback lately has been positive, be careful with the turbocharged petrol engine with dual-clutch transmission. Early owners of the Creta & Seltos 1.4 turbo petrol DCT had some problems with the gearbox overheating. Although most of these have been fixed, it is highly advisable to opt for the maximum extended warranty of 7 years. Don’t even think about it, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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