2020 Hyundai Verna facelift first drive review: Smaller turbo engine, but bigger punch?

What does the new 2020 Hyundai Verna facelift gain and lose in the BS6 era? Moving from a punchy 1.6-litre engine to a downsized, frugal 1.0-litre turbocharged motor, we test-drive what the sportiest Hyundai Verna Turbo DCT trim, to find out if the modern downsized T-GDI engine is a worthy replacemnet for the older 1.6-litre engine or not.

By:Updated: Jun 24, 2020 5:06 PM

If you think about carmakers that are known for making sporty and fast for the masses, you think of Fords, Hondas, Subarus and even a few Toyotas. Buy usually in the past Hyundai has not been a brand that one would associate with making sporty and fun cars to drive. Hyundai has been known for making economical and comfortable cars for the masses. But in the recent past, things have changed and now there are some Hyundais in the global market which are not only good cars but can actually cater to the needs of someone looking to have a bit of fun during their daily mundane commutes. Hyundai India claims that its latest generation and updated models are designed to offer just that. And with the new “Turbo” models, that archaic notion is beginning to evolve. 

In the BS6 era, the Hyundai Verna is the first connected mid-size sedan in India, and it is powered by a new line of engines and transmissions. Not only has Hyundai packed the Verna with a copious amount of features, but Hyundai has also reworked the styling aggressively for the new car. While the older car wasn’t very exciting when it came to styling, this new version – especially the Turbo variant, means business. 

2020 Hyundai Verna Exterior Design

The new front fascia gets an even larger front grille than before, and one that you wouldn’t complain about. For the Verna Turbo, the grille is not dipped in chrome but gets a more elegant and sporty gloss black finish. The new all-LED headlamps that are seamlessly integrated into the top corners of the grille and the triangular indented housings for the projector fog lamps give the Verna Turbo a distinctive, sharp and aggressive look, and is a huge improvement in the styling department. While the profile silhouette is identical as before, what has changed are the new 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that get a new sporty design. Although if they were a size bigger, they could fill the arches and deliver more aesthetically. That said, the choice to remain with the 16-inch wheels is understandable for Indian conditions and requirements. At the rear, much is the same as before. The styling has been carried over from the previous model, but the tail lamps have been reworked internally for the LEDs to illuminate in a different pattern. The rear bumper is brand new and this Turbo model gets new quirky design elements on either side. The Verna Turbo also gets dual exhaust tips which are functional, but the diffuser like the trim on the bottom of the bumper is not. Cumulatively, Hyundai has been able to get the styling of the Verna just right for that sporty look it intended to. 

2020 Hyundai Verna Interior Design and Features

Being built on the same K2 platform as the older model, this update for the Verna is a simple facelift which builds upon the older car. Which is why when you step inside, you notice that the interior hasn’t strayed too far from before. But there are some cool new additions to make it better equipped and seem better than before. The top of the line SX(O) Turbo model offers an all-black interior with red inserts on the air vents and the piping and stitching of the seats. Additionally, there is a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the touch response is much better than before and the screen works seamlessly. Being a connected car with BlueLink, the Verna now gets 45 new connected features that can be even controlled or monitored from your smartphone. Another new segment-first feature is the all-digital TFT driver instrument cluster. All the information for the driver is now displayed digitally, and the system is easy to read albeit with a monochromatic look. Although it is bright, during mid-day conditions, sometimes the display becomes unreadable thanks to reflections. The graphics design of the system although looks great, but it does seem to have been derived from modern BMWs, so make of that what you will. 

The seats at the front offer cooling function like before but do not offer electronic adjustment. The contouring of the front seats are really good and the side bolstering offers ample support. At the rear, legroom is somewhat compromised for the passengers in the back seat. Having said that, you do get ample shoulder room and headroom for an average-sized Indian adult. You also get rear AC vents, centre armrest and rear windscreen blinds which helps make things a bit comfier.

Like we mentioned before, the Verna is overflowing with features. Some of them include a wireless smartphone charging pad, an electric sunroof, reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors along with multiple options to charge all your electronic devices, whether at the front or rear. Hyundai has not skimped on safety features either as this top of the line Turbo model is equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Vehicle Stability Management, traction control, all-wheel disc brakes and a lot more. 

2020 Hyundai Verna Turbo Engine, DCT and driving

There are 1.5-litre petrol and diesel options in the new Verna, but the Verna Turbo comes with a 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. It produces 118bhp and 171Nm of torque, which sounds spritely, but it is marginally less than what was available with the older 1.6-litre engines. The engine is very refined and smooth on the power delivery. Although, being a 3-cylinder engine, there is a bit of vibration that is noticeable when idling. When it comes to performance on the road, the 1.0-litre T-GDI engine is not as punchy as the 1.6-litre engine from before and that is completely understandable. The good thing is that the engine doesn’t feel stressed and even at the top end, you are never in the need for more power. Despite being a turbocharged engine, the power delivery is quite linear and you don’t necessarily feel the turbo lag with the torque kicking in around 1,500rpm. 

When it comes to the transmission, the Verna Turbo is only offered with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and there is no manual option. But you wouldn’t complain as the shifts are fairly smooth. While the shifts are smooth, the kick down from the gearbox on its own in auto mode is a little bit slow, which can be switched to Sport for a faster response. But that’s why you get paddle shifters for when you want to overtake a vehicle, you can easily pull on the left paddle to shift a few cogs down and that will do the trick just fine.

Even though it is a twin-clutch system, the tuning of the transmission is biased towards efficiency, but it does have a sporty flare if you want to have a little bit of fun. Speaking of efficiency, with my heavy right foot, we were averaging about 12-13kmpl in the city with eased conditions, which isn’t exactly segment best. So if you’re looking for fuel economy, then the 1.5-litre diesel option might be more suited for your needs.

Surprisingly, the steering system is not a typical Hyundai electric power steering wheel and you get a decent amount of feedback compared to what you used to get from the previous car. At higher speeds, it weighs up pretty well. But at low speeds, it is a little vague, especially at dead centre. When it comes to going over rough roads and bumps, it doesn’t seem to unsettle the car much. But if you are pushing it, the steering tends to give up at certain times.

The new Verna’s suspension setup is biased towards a firmer side, but the ride is supple and taut. Having said that, you never feel uncomfortable even as a rear passenger since the tuning of the suspension is well balanced between good handling and equally good ride comfort. But hitting big potholes hard, the suspension can be a little noisy. 

2020 Hyundai Verna Turbo verdict

Priced between Rs 9.3 lakh to Rs 15 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), you can take home this top of the line Verna Turbo SX(O) DCT for Rs 14 lakh. And if you see the long list of features that the Hyundai Verna has to offer at that price well, it is undoubtedly one of the most well-equipped cars in its segment. While the price is on the higher end of the scale against the segment-leading Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, in the face of other competitors like the Honda City and the new Skoda Rapid, the new Hyundai Verna is quite competitive making it a car you should definitely consider. But, one thing that is noteworthy when considering the new Hyundai Verna facelift is that the lack of rear legroom makes the car more suited for individuals who prefer to drive themselves. Additionally, while the smaller turbo engine is quite peppy, it’s not outrightly a replacement for displacement. At a time when everyone is looking for SUVs, this new Hyundai Verna Turbo is a breath of fresh air and gives a sign of hope that Sedans are not going away anytime soon. 

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