Hitting the high C
Welcome to the brave new world of Hyundai where flowing streams in Switzerland, shapely rocks in the Arizona desert and weirdly shaped branches of African trees end up influencing car design. Bizarre as it might sound but that's the presentation that we sat through at the new Verna's international press launch in Dubai as designers tried to relate the meandering path of a river to character lines running across the length of the car while explaining what 'fluidic sculpture' stands for.
This is of interest to no one. What is of interest is all this newfound design mojo has transformed the Verna from the proverbial duckling into a swan. Hyundais were never great looking cars sensible, practical and great value but never good looking and the Verna was the biggest offender of them all. The original Verna was dull, bulbous and plain odd to look at. Last year's Verna Transform then exaggerated it all to the point where you couldn't look at it without wincing. And now all that gets consigned to the history bin.
The Sonata launched in international markets in late 2009 (one generation ahead of the car we have in India) was the first to employ this 'fluidic sculpture' language to great effect and has now evolved into a cohesive design language employed across the Hyundai range. This includes not just the big sedans but also SUVs and even small hatchbacks (the nose of the face-lifted i10 being a good example) and has built a strong brand identity for Hyundai, in line with what more mature European manufacturers like Audi and BMW have done. With the Verna almost the entire range has been fluidified with only the Santa Fe and i20 left (which means a face-lift for the latter is only a matter of time).
The new Verna breaks away from the usual three-box design and presents a more coupe-like profile bravely dubbed 'sleek on dynamic'. Wordplay aside it makes the Verna look handsome and allied to the upwardly riding shoulder line and narrowing glass house lends a sporty look to the profile. There's even an integrated boot-lid spoiler and chrome-tipped twin-exhausts to highlight that new found dynamism. It's the front though that screams with intent, the now trademark hexagonal grilled flanked by swept back headlamps with rather elaborate graphics (dubbed two-tone bezel) and relatively large L-shaped fog lamps which fit neatly at the extremities of the bumper. Hyundai's designers stress on how the Verna was designed to have a low and wide appearance and this is the first thing you notice with the car sitting smartly on its wheels and there being a latent dynamism even when stationary. And mercifully they have stopped short of over-adorning the car with lines, creases and angles and the result is a handsome, well proportioned and sporty sedan.
Five years of development and `900 crore have gone into the development of the new Verna (codenamed the RB) which was first presented to the world at the Moscow Motor Show. It carries the Solaris badge in Russia that was picked from 20,000 submissions in a contest to name the first vehicle to be produced there but it is known as the Accent worldwide and Verna in India (because there are no plans to discontinue the decade-old Accent).
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