F THERE’S ONCE CRITICISM we’ve levelled at every generation of the Verna, and the Accent that preceded it, it is that they’ve hardly been any fun to drive. Of course they weren’t easy on the eye either but the fourth-gen Verna addressed that problem, and in any case there were never any complaints on powertrain or the crucial value-for-money equation. No, if Hyundai were to appeal to customers who enjoyed driving as much as being driven, they needed to address the dynamic shortcomings of the Verna and that’s precisely their focus area for the fifth-gen Verna whose prices will have been announced by the time you read this (we’ve recommended 50,000 less than the equivalent spec Honda City, let’s see if Hyundai agrees to that).
Super Body Structure
Good ride and handling starts with a torsionally rigid body structure. It’s the reason why a decade after its launch the Polo (and Vento and Ameo) still set the ride and handling benchmark – its static torsional rigidity of 180,000Nm/° has still to be matched. The torsional rigidity leads to better dynamics, less squeaks and rattles and of course improves crash safety numbers.
Hyundai has gone the same way with the new Verna, increasing the percentage of ultra high strength steel on the all-new K2 platform from 13 to 50 per cent, of which 8 per cent are hot stamped steels used in areas to improve side impact protection. You also get the option of six airbags while ABS is of course standard.
The suspension setup remains unchanged with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear but hydraulic rebound stoppers on the front suspension improves the damping quality and refinement while the angle of the dampers on the rear has been altered (made more vertical) for better damping and reduced suspension noise. Lateral stiffness of the torsion beam has been improved while the rear wheel roll centre has been lowered for reduced body roll. Even steering feel, an area we have criticised in the past, has been looked into with repositioning of the steering box and increase in the front wheel’s caster angle that claims to improve steering feedback.
The test track was the first time I saw the new Verna in natural light and it looks really good, especially in colours like the bright orange and deep maroon. Unmistakably a Verna, things have been tightened on the new car with a more angular grille (now called Cascade design), slinky and more detailed headlamps and a reduction in unnecessary chrome garnish except for around the front fog lamps. It’s on the rear that the styling has really improved with slimmer wrap-around taillamps with very neat graphics and a blacked-out portion at the bottom of the bumper to reduce visual mass. Alloys are 16-inchers with a diamond-cut design and shod with 195/55 tyres. The deletion of unnecessary embellishment reflects the maturity that has crept into Hyundai’s design language and it is safe to say that the Verna is now the best looking car in this segment.
Jump inside and the dashboard has been improved, yet is familiar. My favourite bit is the inclusion of cooled and ventilated front seats – a segment first – and something so very essential in our hot and humid climes. The infotainment has also been upgraded with a seven-inch touchscreen and full smartphone connectivity including