Evo India - - RADAR FIRST LOOK -

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.

Quick im­pres­sions

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

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