The line between the premium hatchback and the sedan segment in India is pretty thin and competitive pricing makes it even more difficult for people to sway in one direction when it comes to making a decision. The sedan segment is the hotly contested amongst others and there have been significant developments here in the past year or so.
We put together five cars which might be on your list to tell you how alike and different they are, eventually giving you a proper verdict about which could be your ideal choice. Today's contestants are the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Skoda Rapid and the Fiat Linea and we will look at the top-of-the-line petrol variants.
The Hyundai Verna upped its class when the Korean company decided to use their fluidic design language on the otherwise very docile looking creature. The Verna was an instant hit just because it had the curves, the creases and the road presence. The Verna looked gorgeous and people did turn to take a second look at it.
Now comparing those looks to the Skoda Rapid and the Fiat Linea is a little unfair. Both the cars aren't anywhere as flamboyant as the Verna in terms of looks. The Rapid in fact looks like a Fabia with a boot. The Linea on the other hand was loved when it first came in because of the Italian styling but now the looks and the tastes have changed and Fiat hasn't really managed to play around much with the design even in the facelift version.
The Honda City is the newest of the lot and it did always look appealing. The latest 4th generation of the City gets a massive chrome strip at the front and the double barrel headlamps too add to the look. The lines that start from the front door right to the tail lamps are similar to the one we see on the Verna.
The Honda City is the only one that actually comes close to beating the smart looks of the Verna in this segment.
When it comes to interior space, the Fiat Linea wins the wheelbase battle with 2603mm of space while the Honda City comes in a close second with 2600mm. This does translate into the fact that the Linea does have more space when compared to the other cars in the segment. The Verna comes in third place with 2570mm while the Rapid gets only 2552mm.
The Honda City however, comes back with a vengeance in the area of boot space as it gets 510 litres of it compared to the 500 available in the Linea. Yet again the Verna finds itself in third place while the
With space covered, the rest of the features like a 2-Din Music system, Climate control, driver and co-driver airbags, ABS, electrically adjustable ORVMs are a few things that are similar.
The Hyundai Verna gets the 1.6-litre VTVT petrol powertrain which gives it an output of 121bhp and 158Nm torque. Honda gives the City the 1.4-litre, 117bhp churning mill, while the Fiat Linea is now available only in the 1.4-litre T-Jet engine which brings its power figures to 112bhp. The Skoda Rapid gets the 1.6-litre mill which we've seen in the Vento as well which churns out 103bhp.
Thus, on paper the Verna is more powerful but when it comes to drivability it is a whole new ball game. The Verna is lighter and hence quick on its feet but it does have a fair amount of body roll. The Skoda Rapid on the other hand is like any other German car, built to stand the test and it does very easily even though it is the least powerful.
The Fiat Linea T-Jet has always been loved because the engine is phenomenally responsive and on an open highway it just flies. The City, yet again, comes in second and Honda has managed to retain the driveability of the car. The steering feel however is a bit of a let-down at high speeds but ideal for city traffic conditions. The Linea and the City make a good impression when it comes to ride and handling as both are equally balanced when it comes to the gearbox response.
Where the Linea loses out is the lack of an automatic variant. The others, however, have this in place.
Even if you look at the sales figures for the past few months, you would have seen Hyundai struggling to the get their numbers up to Honda, though it has been a front runner throughout this shootout, is because the City does manage to sustain the features offered and the way it feels when you drive it. Indeed the Rapid and the Linea make a good case for themselves but clearly, Honda does do a one up on them.
However, Hyundai has a much better reach, when it comes to touch points, when compared to Honda and that might again be a plus point for Hyundai. However, there is another thing swaying people the City way - the availability of a diesel version. But Honda has got it right with the City and the car has managed to stay on top of the sales charts in this segment ever since its launch.