Hyundai Verna Volk­swa­gen Vento Honda City

Car India - - CONTENTS -

Last month our cover story was the new Hyundai Verna first drive and it raised a per­ti­nent ques­tion that the na­tion wanted to know: was it truly the best in this seg­ment? So in our lat­est edi­tion, we try to get you a de­fin­i­tive an­swer and, in ad­di­tion, high­light facts about the best cars in the C-seg­ment. We un­der­stand that this surely must have piqued your in­ter­est. Read on to know more...

For our com­par­i­son, we took the re­cently up­dated Honda City, which, over the years, has made the seg­ment pop­u­lar in In­dia; the built-like-a-tank Euro­pean of­fer­ing, Volk­swa­gen Vento; and, of course, the 2017 Hyundai Verna. Sadly, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz wasn’t avail­able dur­ing our com­par­i­son dates, but I feel it has sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics as the City. So let’s kick off the bat­tle among the holy trin­ity of this seg­ment: South Korea, Ja­pan, and Ger­many.

As you know, the Verna is the lat­est car in this seg­ment and is based on the com­pany’s new K2 plat­form which also un­der­pins the larger Hyundai Elantra. It’s in­ter­est­ing how the com­pany has used a plat­form from a seg­ment above, since usu­ally it’s the other way around to re­duce cost. As com­pared to the older ver­sion of the Verna, the new one has more struc­tural rigid­ity and comes with the largest and most pow­er­ful en­gine in its class.

The Hyundai re­ceives a 1.6-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der diesel en­gine mated to a six-speed man­ual gear­box and it churns out best-in-class 128 PS and 260 Nm. The Vento has been the en­thu­si­ast’s pick in the seg­ment and comes with a spir­ited 1.5-litre tur­bocharged unit pro­duc­ing 110 PS and 250 Nm. The City is at the bot­tom of the per­for­mance pyra­mid with its 1.5-litre i-DTEC, mak­ing a mod­est 100 PS and torque of 200 Nm. Hav­ing said that, it is the most fuel-ef­fi­cient here, re­turn­ing 19.5 km/l (over­all) which is two km/l more than the oth­ers.

The Honda City, like the Verna, comes mated with a six-speed man­ual, while the Vento has a five-speed gear­box. Both the Vento and Verna have diesel-au­to­matic vari­ants — an op­tion which the City doesn’t of­fer yet. The Vento and Verna have effortless gear-shift ac­tion; in com­par­i­son, the Honda needs a bit more ef­fort while slot­ting the lever through the gears.

Like most Volk­swa­gen mod­els, the Vento has a great combo of sporti­ness and com­fort, and is en­gag­ing to drive. The 1.5 TDI of­fers strong ini­tial drive and torque flows in early at 1,500 rpm. Dur­ing idling, the diesel clat­ter does creep into the cabin but it evens out into a raspy note as it gath­ers revs. Talk­ing about en­gine noise, the City sounds coarse among these three and runs out of steam the fastest. It’s bet­ter suited for saun­ter­ing leisurely in town. In com­par­i­son, the new Verna has to­tally trans­formed its drive­abil­ity. It’s a far cry from the older ver­sion’s spiky power de­liv­ery and soggy han­dling. Although Hyundai have re­tained the 1.6-litre com­mon-rail diesel in the new car, it has been tuned beau­ti­fully to pro­duce am­ple thrust at the bot­tom end and, with the turbo kick­ing in seam­lessly, of­fers strong per­for­mance. The strong­est in this com­par­i­son, if I may add.

We tested the man­ual diesel ver­sions of all the three cars, in sim­i­lar con­di­tions, to see which one is the quick­est to reach the quar­ter mile, and the fi­nal re­sults were full of sur­prises. The Honda i-DTEC is the small­est in ca­pac­ity and pro­duces the least power here. But it is im­por­tant to add that it is light­weight, tip­ping the scale at just 1,165 kg, giv­ing it de­cent power-to-weight ad­van­tage. How­ever, in this com­par­i­son, it took the long­est to hit 0-100 km/h (15.44 sec­onds) and man­aged to reach the quar­ter-mile in 20.23 sec­onds, both of which are about a se­cond and a half slower than the Vento. The Verna stunned us, and the com­pe­ti­tion, by sprint­ing to 100 km/h from stand­still in just 10.97 sec­onds. That’s over four sec­onds faster than the City and over 2.5 sec­onds quicker than the Vento. The Hyundai was also the quick­est to reach the quar­ter-mile in just 17.78 sec­onds. The next test was driv­ing dy­nam­ics, and it was a close con­test. The City proved to be an ideal ‘city’ car, tuned for com­fort, man­ag­ing most road un­du­la­tions rather well. Its light steer­ing is a boon in the city, along with the softer suspension setup that makes the han­dling less ag­gres­sive than its ri­vals. It’s best for those who pre­fer to be seated at the back cosily as they are chauf­feured around.

To me, it seem as if the Verna is try­ing to be a com­plete con­trast to this. It is be­ing pro­jected as a sporty car to at­tract en­thu­si­asts. Apart from the spir­ited en­gine, the suspension and steer­ing have been fur­ther tweaked to aid this cause. It’s nei­ther too soft nor firm, and takes on ditches and pot­holes with sur­pris­ing ease. Since there’s lit­tle body move­ment, pas­sen­gers feel com­fort­able even when driven en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. The most im­pres­sive as­pect of the Hyundai is its im­proved han­dling and steer­ing feel. Although it’s still on the lighter side, it feels fairly ac­cu­rate and of­fers good feed­back even at higher speeds. The older ver­sion felt floaty and very unin­spir­ing when driven above three-digit speeds, but the 2017 ver­sion is im­pres­sive and fun to drive. It re­ally has trans­formed into a much bet­ter car. This brings us to the reign­ing cham­pion of drive­abil­ity in this seg­ment. The Vento still holds its ground and feels rock-solid to drive. It’s tough to flaw Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing in terms of driv­ing dy­nam­ics and the Vento is a great ex­am­ple. Iron­ing out most bumps and ditches and with the best body com­po­sure in this shootout, it feels the most se­cure car to drive. You’re al­ways sure that the Vento won’t throw any sur­prises. The steer­ing feed­back and

pre­ci­sion along with the firmer ride aid in main­tain­ing the lines dur­ing fast-paced cor­ner­ing. Those of you who en­joy be­ing seated be­hind the steer­ing wheel, you can’t go wrong with the Volk­swa­gen. It also has the best brake feel, fol­lowed by the Honda, while the Verna lags be­hind with in­con­sis­tent feed­back on the pedal.

And for those who like to be driven around, let’s do some num­ber crunch­ing to com­pare the di­men­sions of the three cars. The Vento is about 10 mm shorter in over­all length and has a 50-mm shorter wheel­base than the City and Verna which have iden­ti­cal fig­ures. Be­ing taller and wider than the oth­ers, the Vento has de­cent cabin space and ex­cel­lent front leg-room. The rear pas­sen­ger gets a-c vents, while the seats are sup­port­ive and spa­cious. There’s a lever to move the front pas­sen­ger seat from the back to in­crease the rear seat knee-room.

The Honda City has ded­i­cated more space for the rear seat pas­sen­ger and feels even more spa­cious as com­pared to the Vento. The rear seat back­rest is more in­clined to make the seat­ing po­si­tion re­laxed. Like the Vento, there are a-c vents at the back as well and there’s even a cen­tre arm-rest with cup-hold­ers.

The Hyundai Verna is of the same size as the City but the space util­i­sa­tion isn’t as good. Front seat pas­sen­gers won’t be com­plain­ing about leg-room but the space at the back is just about ad­e­quate for an av­er­age built In­dian. With taller driv­ers the rear knee-room gets fur­ther com­pro­mised. But the car is packed to the brim with fea­tures. There’s rear sunshade and ven­ti­lated front seats, both a first in this seg­ment. Then, like the City, the top-end vari­ants get sun­roof — a fea­ture not of­fered by the Vento.

Both the cars get day­time run­ning lights, with the Verna equipped with pro­jec­tor head­lamps and the City LED head­lamps. The Vento comes with con­ven­tional halo­gen lights. The City and Verna come with LED tail-lamps with the lat­ter of­fer­ing a smarter look­ing lighting pat­tern. Both get a set of 16-inch al­loy wheels on the top of the line ver­sion, whereas the Vento gets 15-inch wheels. Where the Honda and the Hyundai get di­a­mond cut al­loy wheels that look smart, the VW gets an equally smart set of sil­ver wheels.

The Verna and Vento em­ploy two-tone in­te­rior pack­age in grey and beige with a brushed grey fin­ished cen­tre con­sole; the City em­ploys an all-black

treat­ment. The qual­ity of plas­tics used and the at­ten­tion to de­tail in the Volk­swa­gen is the best. Sur­pris­ingly, the Hyundai isn’t too far be­hind, while we feel Honda need to up their game in this depart­ment.

The Verna gets the most com­pre­hen­sive in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem — a large seven-inch touch­screen with in­built nav­i­ga­tion and smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions, in­clud­ing Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto and Mir­rorLink. The City’s DIGI­PAD in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem also comes with a seven-inch touch­screen, while the Vento gets a smaller touch­screen where both of­fer smart­phone Mir­rorLink. In terms of safety, the top-end Verna and City of­fer front and side cur­tain airbags, while the Vento gets just the dual front airbags for now.

Now let’s get to the de­sign sec­tion. It’s a per­sonal choice, so you take your pick. The Vento is the most con­tem­po­rary look­ing cars here, with sim­ple lines that will con­tinue to ap­peal even when it ages. The City has been given a mild makeover re­cently and now of­fers some more chrome and sub­tle de­sign changes to make it ap­peal­ing. And it has suc­ceeded well, re­tain­ing the tag of be­ing one of the most pop­u­lar Honda cars in our coun­try. Be­ing a new gen­er­a­tion model, Verna’s de­sign is re­fresh­ing and looks more un­der­stated and al­most Euro­pean now.

Fi­nally, the price. The VW Vento TDI High­line is ag­gres­sively priced at Rs 11.59 lakh and should be the car to opt for if you re­ally en­joy driv­ing. It only lags be­hind in terms of new fea­tures and weak af­ter-sales sup­port as com­pared to the string back-up that Honda and Hyundai of­fer across In­dia.

The City ZX MT Diesel costs Rs 13.89 lakh, mak­ing it the most ex­pen­sive car in this com­par­i­son. In spite of that, it re­mains one of the top-sell­ers here, which speaks a lot about the brand’s good­will. It has plenty of equip­ment, of­fers good com­fort for ur­ban use and is an ex­tremely re­li­able prod­uct. With new com­pe­ti­tion com­ing in, Honda have to im­prove the cabin qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail to jus­tify the pre­mium pric­ing and con­tinue sell­ing as much.

In this shootout, the Verna emerges as a sur­prise pack­age strik­ing a great bal­ance be­tween sporty dy­nam­ics and a com­fort­able cabin. With its strength be­ing top-notch cabin qual­ity and a long list of fea­tures, the top-end SX(O) vari­ant un­der­cuts the City and is priced at Rs 12.69 lakh. If I had to pick a car which felt as com­fort­able in the city as on the high­way, then it would be the ver­sa­tile Verna.

( Be­low) Verna’s fea­tures and qual­ity is its strengths

( Left) City’s fit-andfin­ish doesn’t match its price

( Left) Vento has a sim­ple lay­out with parts built to last

( Left) The City sounds coarse among the three, and runs out of steam the fastest ( Be­low) The Verna is the most re­fined and the quick­est here ( Left) The Vento is the en­thu­si­ast’s pick and comes with a spir­ited 1.5-litre unit

( Left) Vento seats are com­fort­able but there’s in­tru­sion from the trans­mis­sion tun­nel ( Left) You get the best rear seat com­fort in the City ( Be­low) Verna’s rear knee-room isn’t the most gen­er­ous

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