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All New Honda City Takes On Updated Hyundai Verna: Exclusive Comparison Review

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The new 7th generation Honda City has arrived in the market, and its official launch and pricing information are just a few days out. But once you have a new generation of any car in the market, the conversation quickly turns to how it stands up to its rivals. Now with the Honda City it takes on an even more important meaning because this is a very highly competitive segment and the City used to be the benchmark for the longest time. But the current and last generation Hyundai Verna have been chipping away at that fortress, and the Verna is our winner in this segment. In all our shootouts –  and we did several – it beat out cars like the Vento, the Ciaz, of course, the City. But will that change now? 

Also Read: All New Honda City Review

The Hyundai Verna has just received a facelift while we’ve just driven the new generation of the Honda City

You may still ask why the battle doesn’t include the newly added 1.0 TSI VW Vento and Skoda Rapid, the long in the tooth Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, the Toyota Yaris – do u see a pattern here? They are all also petrol-only. The Verna and City are the only remaining compact sedans with a diesel option. The Hyundai Verna recently got a well-timed refresher, and the facelifted, updated car drove in recently. We have already told you what’s new on it – and besides that monstrous front grille, there’s something more significant. This car you see has a black finish grille, because it is the 1.0 litre Turbo GDI, and so yes the Verna now has a 3rd powertrain option, and every one of those three has an automatic variant. In the case of the turbo it’s a sophisticated DCT or dual clutch transmission. But let’s start with looks before we get to the performance on those engines. 

Also Read: 2020 Hyundai Verna Review

Design

Now the City is the bigger car and it certainly looks the part, very obviously. The Verna is trying to be sporty because we do have the Turbo variant that has also driven in. It is the range topper and the car with us today too. That grille is very polarising – you’re either gonna love it or hate it – and it’s gonna be an absolute nightmare for your car cleaner (to some it might be just an actual nightmare because it’s kind of scary-looking!). On the other hand the City is a little more conservative and yet looks very modern.

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There’s a lot of chrome on the front grille of the City, but the turbo petrol variant of the Verna gets an all black treatment

There’s a whole lot of chrome up front which is something that Indians love so the City is the safer design but certainly one that will have a greater following. But let’s call it – yes that is way too much chrome. But I reckon on the regular non-turbo Verna you will get just as much of it, only it’s distributed around a larger pattern! The LED lights up front and back give the City a modern flair, and its proportions do make it appear bigger, and it is – as we have established. 

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The LED lights up front give the City a modern flair, and its proportions do make it appear bigger when compared to the Verna









DimensionsHonda CityHyundai Verna
Length4549 mm4440 mm
Width1748 mm1729 mm
Height1489 mm1475 mm
Wheelbase2600 mm2600 mm
Boot Space506 litre480 litre
Wheel Size16-inch16-inch

Cabin

That space really matters inside, where the City’s plush cabin certainly is way roomier. This is especially true in the back, where you have better legroom, a more comfortable seat and better headroom too. Why Hyundai chose to make the Verna on the Elantra’s platform and yet not offer more space in the rear, will remain a mystery.

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The City’s cabin is roomier than the Verna’s 

Both cars with us are in their top trim, so there’s faux leather galore. The City uses a lighter beige palette, while the Vena has two tone beige and black. This sporty all-black treatment is reserved for the Turbo. The black leather with red stitching does look sharp, but overall the City looks more high-end. The City’s dash is slimmer, and gives better knee room for the driver. Both cars have a tilt and telescopic adjustment on the steering, in the higher variants. 

Feature List

The City still seems to be playing catch up on equipment. The new generation has only now got a bigger touchscreen, digital instrument cluster, and the connected car suite of features. It also gets a G-force display. Hyundai has blue link on the Verna, along with other goodies like ventilated seats, cooled glove box, wireless phone charging, rear USB charging point, and even the smart trunk option. The City has none of those. But it gives you the country’s first Amazon Alexa access in a car.

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The City offers a feature-rich cabin with 15 mm more legroom at the rear despite the same wheelbase as the predecessor 

The Verna also has an 8” touchscreen. Both cars get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both have dual airbags standard, and 6 at the top end, tyre pressure monitoring, isofix child seat restraints, and while the Verna gets front parking sensors in the top spec, the City gets the lane watch camera view to avoid left side blind spots. Its middle passenger rear seatbelt is also a three-point affair – which is great. 

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The rear seat of the Verna is not as comfortable as the City 

At the top end both also get a sunroof, keyless entry, start stop button, climate control, steering mounted controls, and a lot more. But the Verna can pamper you more on equipment. So on features, it’s no surprise that Hyundai clearly has an edge. On comfort and space, the Honda City has it cornered! But which one becomes the better driver’s car? Obviously something like that interests me, just a little bit more, and so let us find out.  

Powertrain Options

Remember we are comparing the top spec petrols here, and while the Verna gets a 1.5 litre petrol just like the City, it also has this gem – the 1.0 Turbo GDI. The City has an updated IVTEC now with a dual overhead camshaft and so its mid range is improved. While the regular petrol Verna’s power output is a tad lower, but torque is more or less the same. Both get a CVT auto option or 6-Speed manual. But when you compare to the Turbo, the numbers start to look juicier on the Hyundai side, especially because of that quick changing DCT with paddle shift. The CVT on the City also does give you paddles, but there’s no comparison otherwise.

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The Honda City is the more refined out of the two but is not sporty 

You expect the Honda i-VTEC to be smooth and refined and that is exactly what you get. It is a very pleasant experience driving this car and you’ll really enjoy the level of refinement the City has now got into. But is it Sporty and fun? No, not really. I mean it will do the job for you and especially with the CVT you’ll find things being comfortable. And you won’t ever really need to use the paddles. But will it give you a little bit of a punch that you sometimes want from your car (especially if you’re going to be the one driving it and not sitting at the back)? No! However ride quality and driving comfort on the new Honda City are easily best in class.  

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There’s a hint of turbo lag during initial acceleration on the Verna’s GDI variant

On the Verna there’s a bit of turbo lag that does kick in during initial acceleration. That’s something you won’t feel in City, but once the turbo kicks in this is a whole lot more excited and raring to go than the other car. There’s a better urgency to the performance in terms of just the kind of response you get, especially when you put the gearbox into sport, and use the paddle shifters too. The car handles pretty well and overall you’ll find that it’s just a lot more enjoyable if you want to be able to drive it a little bit harder get that sporty sort of performance that you might be looking for. The ride quality in Verna is pretty good but as I said, the City’s is better. 

A quick word on the oil burners on offer. The two diesels may have similar displacements but the Verna’s unit is definitely more powerful and punchier. That said, the diesel is the most fun to drive in the City portfolio.







SpecificationsHonda City (Diesel)Hyundai Verna (Diesel)
Engine1.5-litre1.5-litre
No. Of Cylinders44
Max Power99 bhp @ 3600 rpm113 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Peak Torque200 [email protected] rpm250 [email protected] – 2750 rpm
Fuel Economy24.1 kmpl25 kmpl / 21.3 kmpl
Transmission6-Speed MT6-speed MT / 6-Speed AT

Price


We cannot look at the prices in this comparison since Honda has not announced them as yet. Suffice to say I expect the City to stay competitive and price in the ₹ 10-15 lakh price band across all variants. That’s similar to the Verna’s prices. The 1.0 Turbo is priced competitively at ₹ 13.99 lakh though, which is just ₹ 14,000 higher than the same fully loaded trim avatar with the 1.5 MPI engine with CVT. 

Verdict


So if it’s a safe, reliable, comfortable, modern, family car you’re looking for or even a chauffeur-driven one – The City is definitely the car to go with and it becomes a very obvious winner because of the fact that it also sports a new platform, and improves on features over its predecessor. But if it is features you are looking for, the Verna has still got the longer list.

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The Turbo petrol engine of the Verna outclasses the City in the performance department 

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Add to that – if it’s a driver’s car you are looking for, the fact that you now have a Turbo option being offered on the Verna sets the cat amongst the pigeons. Yes you could very well consider the TSI engined Vento or Rapid that also drive very well – but those are dated platforms, and not as roomy or well specced. Hopefully, we see more such engines driving in. If Honda decides to do a 1.0 turbo Type- R version of the City, that would be terrific. For now that is wishful thinking! So the Verna stays ahead then – as it satisfies both performance and tech. 

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