Hyundai cars have never really known to be mirror cracking material and thus driving around in a Hyundai and not getting any second glances is something most Hyundai owners would be quite used to. South Korean automaker Hyundai, for its part has been making rapid progress in the technology that its cars pack in, and lately in the way its cars look too. The “Fluidic” design philosophy, as Hyundai likes to call its brand new design language has made it to India’s C-segment sedan market, in the form of the Hyundai Verna Fluidic, and one that has been a resounding sales success over the last few months. We put the Hyundai Verna 1.6 Diesel through 500 kilometers of grueling test conditions to find out if the car brings something more to the table than just ravishing good looks.
Talking about ravishing good looks, the Hyundai Verna actually managed to get more than a few stares when we were ambling around the posh Southern part of Mumbai. That people were taking notice of the car was proof enough of the car’s overall design appeal and full marks to Hyundai for producing a superb looking car for the Indian C-segment sedan market.
The sharp front of the Verna Fluidic with the wraparound headlamps is the shape of things to come from Hyundai and the design of the car’s front end is a dramatic yet pleasant departure from the ugly and toothy grins that we’ve been used to, from a host of previous Hyundais. The sharp lines continue to the fog lamps which have a boomerang shape inspired by perhaps the Mercs and Audis of this world.
The bonnet gets some nice sculpting to make for a muscular yet racy appearance while the muscular character creases on the car’s sides and the rising window sill add to the effect. Presto, and you have a coupe-ish roof line that slants down to endow the car with an aggressive and sporty stance that most folks would love. The rear end of the car culminates in wraparound tail lamps with a high-ish boot.
The exteriors get plenty of chrome all around, right from the grille up front to the the chromed inserts around the Verna Fluidic’s fog lamps. The chroming extends to the grab handles on the door with a chrome strip on the boot lid. Rounding off the chrome treatment is the twin muffler tip that also gives the Verna Fluidic its sporty appeal from the rear. 16 inch wheels on alloy rims fill up the large wheel wells of the car very well.
Enough of the looks then, let’s look at what the Verna Fluidic has in store for us on the inside, shall we? The first thing that’ll strike you when you step into the Hyundai’s beige themed cabin is the airiness this tough-to-maintain color endows the car with. The interiors of the Hyundai Verna Fluidic are easily amongst the best in the Indian C-segment sedan space, especially when it comes to the way the plastics and other materials like the door trims feel to touch.
The rubbery finish on the expansive dashboard of the car doesn’t just feel good to touch but also is quite a grippy surface. While the twin cockpit dashboard isn’t really a radical design like the exteriors of the car, the dark wood veneer framing the center console is a class touch. That said, we simply didn’t like the lighter wood veneer on the door trim which looked and felt like a cheap afterthought.
A few nice touches though are the chrome finished door release levers, a satin finish on the leather clad steering wheel’s lower half and the push to operate cabin lamps. A sore point on the car though was the dotted pattern on the seats, which we felt looked straight out of the eighties. So, the design of the Verna Fluidic’s interiors, though high quality have a few chinks which very easily could have been avoided by Hyundai India.
Utility is definitely a strong point of the car’s interiors. You get a nice little sunglass holder just above the car’s rear view mirror which is a nice addition. The glove box on the dash has a decent amount of space to fit it much more than say the car’s papers. Similarly, the driver’s arm rest behind the gear lever encloses another cubby hole good for a couple of small items like your mobile phone or an MP3 player.
A full sized bottle holder sits in between the driver and the passenger along with a smaller cup holder. The front doors have space for a few magazines and can hold a 500 ml bottle each. The rear armrest also opens up into a small cavity that could hold a small paperback while the front seats have magazine holders at their rear. The boot too, being reasonably capacious, can manage a large suitcase plus a couple of small bags.
The Verna Fluidic’s leather clad front seats are very comfortable while the rear seats too have a reasonable amount of head, leg and shoulder room. Despite the car’s window line rising sharply, Hyundai has ensured that the rear windows are large enough to avoid any kind of claustrophobia. While three passengers can be squeezed in the at rear, the rear seat is most comfortable for two adults.
Getting into the Hyundai Verna Fluidic, sitting snug is just a matter of adjusting the steering and the front seat suitably. Being an automatic, the car is a perfect example of get up and go. You thumb the push button start for the 1.6 Liter, 16 Valve common rail, turbo diesel engine to settle to a very refined thrum. What wasn’t that all that refined was the way the switchgear felt. Somehow the Verna Fluidic’s switchgear didn’t feel as high quality as the competition offers.
While the diesel engine’s overall refinement is of very high order, clatter with the windows up was somehow higher than the case was with the windows down. This was quite peculiar and perhaps a localized issue to this car in particular, as the engine felt and sounded superbly refined even from the outside.
Hyundai has really managed to achieve a very high order of refinement from its range of CRDI diesel engines and this 128 Bhp-260 Nm unit is no exception. What lets the engine down really, is the antiquated 4 speed automatic gearbox, which simply fails to harness the full performance potential of the cracker of a diesel engine.
What is does reasonably well is, it masks the turbo lag of the engine when progress is sedate, such as city traffic. Even so, urgent overtaking which calls for a quick response from the transmission is simply absent in the 4 speed unit. So, the superb engine which could have been a highway star is reduced to a non eager city slicking motor because of the 4 speed tranny.
The motor feels best in the city amble mode when you use relaxed throttle inputs for steady progress. Driven with a light foot, the Verna Fluidic Automatic is a nice car to drive around town as the ride quality is quite good on broken sections of city roads and the various assorted bumps. The electric power steering is very light and driving the Verna Fluidic Automatic in the city is almost an effortless experience.
Acceleration, though brisk is marred by the very discernible shifts from the 4 speed automatic gearbox. Progress is brisk although there is plenty of turbo lag up to 2000 rpm when you stomp on the go pedal. But the 265 Nm of torque is enough for steady progress even with the turbo taking time to spool up for that slingshot effect.
On the highway too, good cruising speeds can be maintained and the Verna Fluidic in automatic guise can do around a top speed of 180 kph depending on the road conditions. That said, the soft suspension allied to the lifeless electric power steering at speed, really makes these speeds scary to say the least.
The car begins to have a floaty feeling anywhere above 120 kph and with the disconnected steering, you’re really not confident on the long, high speed sweepers where even a slight bump can unsettle the Verna. Braking though is quite effective with disc brakes all around and ABS-EBD chipping in to assist with the stopping duties. However, the soft suspension set up means that hard braking produces a pronounced diving effect.
Under 120 Kph though, the speeds under which most people on Indian roads will drive, the car is quite a plush mile muncher and being an automatic version is more of point and shoot machine. On the twisties though, the soft suspension of the Verna really manifests itself into a lot of disconcerting body roll, so much so that rear passengers will want to throw up after a bout of hard driving in the twisties.
This is something that Hyundai has simply not managed to solve in consecutive versions of the Verna and it is quite disappointing from an enthusiasts’ perspective. So, if you love driving, this car, both in manual or automatic guise, is simply not for you. For the rest of the folks though, the Verna Fluidic will get the job done with effortless ease. So, the Verna Fluidic is clearly aimed at the gallery and thus, Hyundai India has played clever to give the car plenty of features to appeal to a wide section of car buyers.
Being one of the latest cars to hit the Indian C-Segment sedan space, the Verna Fluidic comes with a host of features like a reverse camera, an alternator management system to conserve fuel, automatic retracting outer rear view mirrors, a cooled glove box, a push button start, six airbags, an anti glare rear view mirror and a centrally placed driver arm rest.
The features that this car offers will be a major selling point and this is where the Verna Fluidic really scores, by offering car buyers a superb blend of bells and tinkles that are actually very, very useful. For instance, the reverse camera whose display sits on the rear view mirror makes life a whole lot easier while reversing the car.
The centrally placed driver arm rest is another feature that works very well to reduce driver fatigue over longer distances. And, this is one feature that is hitherto available only on much more expensive cars. Likewise, the other class leading features make living with the Verna Fluidic a nice experience and these little things over time will really grow on owners.
The car stereo of the Verna Fluidic, though being a 2 DIN version is nothing to write home about. Sound quality is acceptable at the lower reaches of the volume spectrum with the unit sounding quite tinny once the volume gets high. A good thing though is the easy placement of the USB and AUX port which makes it quite comfortable to access.
One factor that will help the cause of the Diesel Automatic that the Verna Fluidic is, is the fuel economy of this car. 10 KPL in the city with that figure going up to 13-14 kilometers on the highway if driven with measured inputs will gladden many a heart even as petrol automatics are horribly expensive to run given the stratospheric prices at which petrol trades these days.
All in all, the Hyundai Verna Automatic Fluidic, which costs about INR 10.75 Lakhs, ex-showroom Delhi is a car that you should go ahead and buy if you need a feature packed-reasonably frugal automatic car that is a breeze to drive in the city. True, the Hyundai Verna Fluidic isn’t a great corner carver or even a great high speed highway car.
But, for the convenience it brings to the table along with the sheer depth of features on the top end automatic model, it will tick most of the boxes for a car buyer whose primary need is an effortless commuter car that looks swell, along with the able after sales service back of the country second largest car maker, Hyundai India. Not for nothing has this car gone on to become the top seller in the Indian C-segment sedan space within three months of its launch. Enough said.