Honda City, Hyundai Verna & Skoda Rapid Sales Up In July 2020

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Right from the time when it was launched, the Honda City had been one of India’s favourite sedans. This was especially the case when the VTEC variant was launched. It not just kept the enthusiast happy, but also those looking out for comfort. There was also a time when the City was not available in a diesel variant and yet it was topping the segment sales chart. This trend continued till very recently. However with the competition getting hotter, the City lost steam. Honda now intends changing all that with the new fifth generation City. But to be honest, its arch rival in the segment is the Hyundai Verna only. This is because the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz is no longer available in diesel. Hyundai recently gave the Verna a minor facelift to take on the new-gen City. Can the Hyundai be better than the City? Let’s find out.

The Hyundai Verna offers more power than that of the Honda City. It is also quicker to 100kmph. (Image: Gurdeep Bhalla)

Exterior design

The new generation City has grown by a considerable margin. The sedan is now longer and wider than before and is lower too. The wheelbase though remains identical to the older car. While the basic platform of the new City is same as the older car, a lot has been done to it to increase stiffness and strength. As far as the looks are concerned, the new design is still unmistakably a City. Just that the lines are sharper. The headlamps look sleek and come with LED DRLs as well. The prominent use of chrome on the grille also adds to the more imposing character. In profile, the silhouette is rather sleek. The sweeping roof line and the prominent shoulder line add character to the sedan. The rear end too looks good thanks to the sleek design and those LED tail lamps.

The Verna recently got a facelift and as a result gets a sleeker pair of headlights and a large grille. The sharply raked bonnet and the low slung look gel well with the sedan’s character. The profile though remains identical to the older car. At the back, Hyundai has further streamlined the lights and the stout boot makes the Verna look sportier than the City. A quick dimension check also reveals that the City is larger than the Verna. However both the sedans sport an identical 2,600mm wheelbase.

The Verna’s cabin exudes sportiness. The infotainment system isever so slightly angled towards the driver. Ventilated seats add to the wow factor of the Verna. The infotainment system can perform a myriad of functions. (Image: Gurdeep Bhalla)

Interior décor

While Honda was busy making the City posher, Hyundai was busy infusing sportiness within the cabin of the Verna.The dash now sports a larger 8in touchscreen infotainment system, but here the system angled towards the driver. It gets Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity suite wherein you can start and cool the car remotely, geo-fence it, track it and also get breakdown assist. The instrument panel is also an all-digital affair like the City. However it is the design which has got us thinking. The dot matrix like fonts look a bit odd and readability is also not the best here. However when it comes to information, the unit does offer plenty. The Hyundai Verna offers ventilated seats up front, a feature which we love and also offers wireless charging. Up front the Verna scores well as far as space is concerned. However things are not as good at the back. Ingress/egress is an issue thanks to the sweeping roofline and then there is the matter of headroom. Kneeroom is just about adequate for average heights. The lower shoulder room also means that three will be a squeeze in the rear seat of the Verna. The boot too at 480 litres offers lesser space than the City.

The City gets a posh dash layout. Two-tone cabin treatment makes the cabin look bright. Blind spot camera comes on when you flick the left indicator. The image is beamed on the 8in infotainment system. (Image: Gurdeep Bhalla)

The new City seems to be designed all around the theme of being premium. The design of the dash mimics this. The large touch screen infotainment system dominates the centre console and then there is the all digital instrument panel which can be customized to display a lot of information. The design is also pleasing to the eye. The other massive jump up in the City is quality. Every knob, button and dial operates with precision clicks and this makes us very happy. Even the display for the climate control system looks posh. The City also offers a plethora of features which includes pairing the system with the ‘Alexa’ voice assistant. A lot of commands can also be passed on to the car via a dedicated Honda app. All of this adds to the convenience factor. The City offers plenty of space within the cabin. The rear seat especially is very comfortable and also getting in and out is easier. The larger dimensions also result in the City offering a more spacious 506-litre boot.

Here is the most comprehensive specification sheet of the Hyundai Verna and the Honda City.

Under the hood

The new City comes with a 1.5-litre i-DTEC motor which is tuned to offer 100bhp and 200Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission. The updated Verna too comes with a 1.5-litre diesel replacing the older model’s 1.6-litre mill. Now many will question this downsizing move. With the reduction in cubic capacity, power and torque figures have come down as well. 113bhp and 250Nm of torque is what it comes loaded with. A 6-speed gearbox handles transmission duties in the Verna.

Both sedans look a lot more sleeker than before. (Images: Gurdeep Bhalla)

Role reversal

The City right from day one was a driver’s delight. All the enthusiasts of the country swore by it and enjoyed its sharp handling and quick steering. However in its fifth generation, the City has become more of a ‘passenger’s delight.’ The car is a breeze to drive on everyday city roads. The engine offers ample grunt to cruise through traffic and there is decent amount of torque on tap as well. When it comes to fuel efficiency, the City is better off too. The gearbox though has lost its precise feel. We so miss having that notchy feel while shifting this Honda gearbox. The heavy City is no longer quickest off the line thanks to the excess weight the engine has to haul. When it comes to ride quality though, the City shines again. It is tuned to take on rough stuff at slower speeds and as a result there is very little discomfort the passengers will have to deal with. Unless one goes into a nasty pothole at high speed, nothing can dislodge the City. The steering too is light and offers less feedback than before. Again the trend here is to ease city driving more than anything. As far as handling is concerned, the City shows prominent body roll as well. Hence confidence around corners has gone down too.

The Hyundai Verna on the other hand started off as a passenger car and has evolved into a driver’s delight. The motor offers more power and torque than the City and as a result it is rather quick off the line. There is lots of torque as well to enable the Verna to dart through with ease. It also feels more comfortable at higher speeds as compared to the City. The gearbox again is precise and a joy to operate. Positive and prominent shifts keep the enthusiast happy. The Verna is also stiffer than before and as a result loves to play around twisties. It holds its ground well and as result can carry higher speeds. The ride quality is rather good and a mix of sporty and comfortable drive. The steering feel has improved as well and is much better than before. There is some amount of feedback and this helps in spirirted driving. However we think things can improve further.

Here is the definitive verdict. The Hyundai Verna inches ahead of the Honda City.

Verdict

This is one surprise which we had not expected. While the City scores well in terms of space, ride quality, efficiency and features, the Verna has evolved to please the driver with more power and better handling. This is a surprising predicament. When it comes to price, Honda has played it well and priced the City competitively. But at the end of the day, the Verna’s permormance figures help it win our test by a single point.

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Source : https://www.indiatoday.in/auto/comparisons/story/honda-city-vs-hyundai-verna-a-diesel-duel-1723308-2020-09-19

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