Inarguably, these two sedans offered the greatest variety in terms of engine choices, decent looks and a long list of creature comforts.
While looks are subjective, a glance at Verna and City, and you would be awed by the experimental attempt by both the manufacturers. City walks on the path of its sibling Civic, where it has added a few centimeters to its stride and borrowed Honda’s current trend of featuring a big slab of chrome on the nose.
New powertrains, redone looks have perhaps helped Verna to move into a generational change over just a facelift. The grille is large and angular around the corner, and the edginess runs into the sleek pair of headlamps. It’s just the beginning, with i20 and other upcoming Hyundai products sharing a similar design outlook. Otherwise speaking, it’s a match-up between City’s sophistication against Verna’s trendiness.
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City’s design, I think, divides opinion. The 4th gen and the 5th are so different to look at, yet continuing with both models in the market steals away the exclusivity somewhat. That said, the increase in dimensions and a new pair of head and tail lights make the City look more premium than it actually is.
The Verna, on the other hand, looks absolutely smashing. Both the sedans sit on diamond-cut, 16-inch alloys. The turbo variant in the red shade with black grille and honeycomb structure are interesting changes to the profile.
Inside the cabin, Verna’s biggest draw is the dual upholstery choices. Turbo gets an all-black while regular petrol and diesel get all-coloured theme. Sunroof, lots of cubby holes, storage spaces, leather seats and connected car features are common in both the cars.
Both the cabins are well-appointed and loaded with features. Honda City’s air conditioning system is superb and more effective. The Verna takes a little longer to cool the cabin, however, the segment-exclusive front row ventilated seats are a huge bonus.
Hyundai Verna comes with the option of wireless charging while Honda City features Civic’s lane watch facility.
Both the sedans have an 8-in infotainment system, equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and support seamless navigation and music. Honda Connect is India’s first Alexa-enabled cab while Hyundai’s BlueLink offers a truckload of features like drive analytics, telemetry, and more. In terms of touch and feel of the infotainment, Honda lags Hyundai.
The overall built, fit and finish of both the sedans are top-notch. The City scores little more in terms of sophistication due to the faux wooden inlay, a greater amount of soft-touch material on the dashboard and better seat bolstering.
Honda City’s back seat comfort is larger are plusher than most sedans in the segment, and that’s largely because of the increased length and width of the car. Verna’s sloping roofline will come in the way if the occupant is 5 ft 8 inches and above. In simple words, it’s easier to accommodate three occupants in the rear seat of City than Verna, however, both of them are not the benchmark.
City allows a middle row headrest while Verna comes with rear sunblind. So, comparing inside-out, you are more likely to pick Honda City over Hyundai Verna if you are above 40 years old, who goes to office 5 out of 7 days a week. Well, that’s just a cliche, but in my opinion, a younger audience would be greatly influenced by the look and feel of Verna.
In terms of engine and transmission choice, Verna has an advantage over any other sedan in the segment. An exciting 1.0-litre turbo-petrol (120 PS, 172 Nm) mated with 7-DCT, 1.5-litre petrol (115 PS and 200 Nm) with 6-speed manual or IVT and 1.5-litre diesel (115 PS and 250 Nm) with 6-speed manual or 6-AT is likely to spoil you for choices. It’s also just a matter of time Hyundai introduces the clutch-less iMT with turbo variant of Verna.
The legendary 1.5-litre i-VTEC (120 PS and 145 Nm) and i-DTEC (100 PS and 200 Nm) are the alternatives you get with the new City. If you opt for diesel, the 5th generation is the only option. A 6-speed manual or 7-speed CVT are the transmission duties for petrol powertrain while the diesel only gets a 6-speed manual.
At the outset, I must admit our test cars are diesel units and they haven’t been the most preferred choice for both the sedans. The older City’s 1.5 diesel and 6-speed manual carry forward, with greater levels of refinement. For the Verna, it’s a brand-new 1.5-litre engine much like the Creta.
In terms of output, diesel Verna at 115 PS and 250 Nm generates more power than City at 100 PS and 250 Nm. The cabin insulation and refinement in Verna feels better than the City, in the diesel comparison.
The clutch and transmission operation feels lighter and smoother in the City over Verna, however, the margin of difference is very slender.
The Verna is quick and sporty. In our 0-100 kmph test, Verna registered 11.05 seconds while City was full two seconds slower. City ensures strong pull through the mid-range while Verna shines in the mid-range and near the red line also.
Verna’s steering feels lighter and more agile, quick to respond to directional changes. Honda City, on the other hand, is superb to be driven around. The suspension set up is softly sprung, the damping is fantastic and the back seat comfort almost matches the level of Civic.
Both the sedans are brilliantly engineered, priced competitively and carry forward brand’s legacy and people’s nostalgia.
Hyundai Verna (1.5 MPi + 6-speed MT) starts at Rs 9.30 lakh (ex-showroom) while the base V MT variant of Honda City starts at Rs 10.90 lakh (ex-showroom). The gap tickles down as you climb up the ladder. The IVT variant of Hyundai Verna starts at Rs 11.95 lakh (ex-showroom) while City’s V CVT comes at Rs 12.20 lakh (ex-showroom).
Honda City’s diesel options are available between Rs 12.40 lakh to Rs 14.64 lakh (ex-showroom). The diesel manual variants of Verna are priced between Rs 10.66 lakh and Rs 13.95 lakh (ex-showroom) while the segment-exclusive automatic diesel comes at Rs 13.20 lakh to Rs 15.10 lakh (ex-showroom).
The single, fully-loaded Turbo GDi with DCT comes at Rs 13.99 lakh (ex-showroom).
Both the sedans have competed in the past and they will continue to do so. With Rapid, Yaris, Ciaz and Vento trying to create a following, the Verna and City have carved a niche in the mid-size sedan segment. For 2020, the face-off is between an icon and a trendsetter, and on the back of sheer versatility, the compare tips towards the Verna.
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