The Indian auto industry has been transforming at a brisk pace for quite some time now. New and exciting cars, separate segments being made and redefined, it was all happening at too fast a pace. So much so that it was easy for a new customer to get lost while considering the number of choices.
Considering all the hue and cry manufacturers normally make about a launch whether it is ‘new’ or genuinely new, it wasn’t a surprise that people didn’t pay much attention when news came in some month’s back that Hyundai was going to bring out a new Verna. “Hyundai going in for a Verna upgrade, maybe just cosmetic. Yawn…” I had thought.
But when pictures began to trickle in of the Hyundai RB which was supposedly the new Verna, we were in for a shock. This was a Hyundai like no other. Gone was the Korean crudeness or the ‘inspirational’ designs which they were infamous for. This car was a genuine good looker. With flowing lines, curvaceous body and a European look more than anything else. Hyundai called it a part of their Fluidic Design Philosophy. How all of us were forced to sit up and take notice of this new Hyundai kid!
Alright, so Hyundai had not just prepared an upgrade to Verna but had built an all new gorgeous looking car instead. Yes, this is good news indeed but what is it that necessitates an analysis of this car, you might ask? Especially when there were similar new launches in this segment, the VW Vento, for example. This is where I believe Hyundai has made a move which might be one of the most intelligent yet boldest in Indian auto industry. Why? I am just getting to that.
You see unlike the VW Vento, or the Fiat Linea or Manza or any other car that has been manufactured in India for the past few decades, the Hyundai Verna made a very different entry. It came with four different engine options to choose from. Two each in pricey petrol and dormant diesel. And these engines are supposedly designed in such a way that the lower spec versions of 1.4 litres are meant for the economy conscious while the higher 1.6 litre engines are more for the performance greedy.
A look at the statistics of the engines and things become clearer. The so called economy conscious 1.4’s are not just that. They have enough power output to match the VW Ventos and Fiat Lineas. Which means that the 1.6s are in a league of their own, licking at the feet of Jettas, Civics and Corollas, but at a much lower sticker price.
Now look at the new Verna with its 4 new engine options in the perspective of the other cars which have one petrol or one diesel engine to offer and you begin to see the picture. Which is this-Hyundai was plugging every single gap in this segment and was trying to expand it to take a shot at the premium segment knowing very well that they had a car to try and achieve it.
This is the first time that a car manufacturer had attempted this sort of a technique in India. It is normal to see cars come with multiple options in developed countries which leave the consumer with multiple permutations and combinations of trims to choose from. But in India, such liberties were unknown of. If you liked the way a car looked, there is a very high possibility that it might not have the engine that you think it should have. But in the developed countries, manufacturers generally launch the car with multiple engine options and to top it, they also release sports or rally or RS versions that are for the performance minded.
Take the case of Ford Figo for example. I know of many people, including me, who just loved the way it looked. But when you consider the engine options it gives you, it is disappointing to say the least. This car tends to just one segment of people. People who like the car (and) like it even more because of the frugal diesel engine. For the other segment of people who like the car (and) want it to have some ‘go’ to match with the looks-nothing but disappointment.
Think in these lines and you understand the importance of the new Verna. It is a very gracious, BRAVE and intelligent move by Hyundai. They knew of the upcoming Ford Fiesta. They knew about the newly launched Vento. And of course, they would have very well known about the Honda City. And they launched a car which can take on all these cars with all the engine options they offer and better still, take a shot at the upper segment
I am sure Ford would have had to re-think about the pricing of the Fiesta after this car. And we are already seeing the decline of the City, once considered infallible in this segment. This sort of competition is not only healthy for the economy and the consumers, it also opens up new avenues for other car makers to try and test new waters, like bringing in various engine options on their cars to tend to a larger spectrum of people.
The new Verna is young and raring to go. It would be a battle to watch out for in the months to come. We at RiotEngine, wish it all the very best.