New Hyundai Verna spotted testing near Chennai

Hyundai’s mid-size challenger, the Verna, is a bit long in the tooth. In a segment that it once dominated competing against the invincible City, the Verna is now a laggard, clearly beaten by the Honda as well as the Maruti-Suzuki Ciaz. With the two Japanese sedans running away with the sales charts, the six-year-old Verna’s successor couldn’t come any sooner. And here it is, in all its camouflaged glory, hoping to regain its position in the highly competitive C-segment.

Caught testing near the South Korean car-maker’s manufacturing facility in the outskirts of Chennai by one of our followers, these spy shots hint at what to expect from the new Verna when it launches later this quarter. 

One good look at these images is all it takes to find out that the Verna now looks like a mini Elantra. The rear, especially, mimics Hyundai's D-segment sedan with the split taillights and the way in which the C-pillar slopes down leading to the boot. Also visible is a prominent boot lip and Hyundai's popular 'LED-lookalike' glow pattern in the taillights. The profile is similar to the outgoing Verna with the camouflage on but expect the new generation model to lose a few creases as part of Hyundai's migration to 'Fluidic Sculpture 2.0' design philosophy. 

Globally, there are two variants of the new Verna on sale with each sporting a slightly different exterior design. While Hyundai has not officially revealed the car to the Indian public, the teaser image released put an end to all speculations and pointed towards the Russia-based Solaris. At the front, Hyundai's now-familiar 'cascading grille' and sweptback projector headlights with integrated L-shaped DRLs complete the show. The car on test appears to be a lower-spec model as evident by the steel wheels and plastic wheel covers.

The new Verna appears to have grown in size as well. The car certainly looks bigger and wider, indicating a more spacious cabin and a relatively generous boot. While that's a welcome change compared to the cramped rear of the existing model, let's not forget that the Ciaz and the City have taken the game forward so much that the Verna is still no match to either of them in this aspect.

Like all recent Hyundai launches, interiors are likely to be less flashy with a simple and elegant design that's loaded with more creature comforts. The kit on offer in the top end variant could include six airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), disc brakes on all four wheels, touchscreen infotainment system with integrated reverse camera, parking sensors, diamond cut alloys, automatic headlamps and wipers, cluster ionizer and full leather upholstery.  

Engine lineup from the current Verna is expected to be carried over and that means the 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter petrol and diesel engines would continue under the hood of the new model. What’s likely to change though is the transmission lineup. While the manual gearboxes might continue unchanged, the outdated 4-speed automatic transmission doing duty in the current Verna could be shown the door in favour of the 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission that's offered in the Elantra.

If the new Elantra and Tucson are any indication, expect the new Verna to sport better ride, handling and steering feel compared to its predecessor.

Despite its strengths, the present Verna has gone out of favour with the buyers, selling just a fraction of what the Ciaz and City do month on month. Will this bigger, better and stylish new Verna take the fight to Maruti-Suzuki and Honda? Or has Hyundai nudged the barrier of 'too little too late' here? 

Let's wait and watch.

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