2023 Hyundai Verna Vs Volkswagen Virtus Vs Honda City: Compact Sedan Showdown

The compact sedan segment has seen a lot of action in the last one year with the arrival of three solid cars – the 6th gen Hyundai Verna, the Honda City facelift and the Volkswagen Virtus. We got the trio together to find out which one will suit your requirements the most.
10 mins read
18-May-23 07:12 PM IST

In a market dominated by compact and sub-compact SUVs, of late, sedans have started making a comeback in the Indian passenger car market. After the arrival of the Volkswagen Virtus in 2022, Honda launched a facelift of its popular sedan, the City in the market earlier this year and a couple of months later, the new generation of the Hyundai Verna entered showrooms. 



Also Read: Cars and SUVs Under 25 Lakh Offering ADAS 

A slew of Compact sedans have been launched in India in the last one year.


Both the City and the Verna have been around for a very long time in the Indian market. The City has been there for two and a half decades and the Verna for over a decade and a half. But the arrival of cars from the Skoda-VW family has made competition even more interesting. 



All three cars while being in the same segment looks quite different from each other. 


The Verna has changed significantly through multiple generations and the cuts and creases on this new model are worth appreciating, along with the connecting DRLs on front and similar tail lamps. 


Also Read: Hyundai Makes 3-Point Seat Belts And Belt Reminder For All Passengers Standard Across Its Portfolio

Some new elements on City facelift make it look sportier than earlier. 


The City on the other hand continues to feel like a quintessential sedan which is looks classy from whichever angle you look at it. Some new elements on this facelift have made it look a tad bit sportier than earlier. These include the carbon wrapped diffuser and the lip spoiler. The Virtus GT really stands out with its dual tone roof, blacked out ORVMs and a faux spoiler. 

Volkswagen has made some effort to make the GT look different from the 1.0-liter version.


While the City is the longest car here, Verna is the widest and Virtus the tallest. All three sedans run on 16-inch wheels but the blacked-out ones on the Verna Turbo and Virtus GT add to make the cars look sportier in appeal. 


Tech & Interior

Hyundai Verna’s cabin has gone in for a massive makeover in this new generation. 


Along with the design, it is also the cabin which appeals more to the buyer, as well as features. The Hyundai Verna’s cabin has gone in for a massive makeover in this new generation. Be it features, tech or ergonomics, Hyundai has really upped the game in this segment. I really like how the touchscreen system is tilted towards the driver, it's a part of this single unit which also has a digital cluster, something you don’t really see in the other two cars that are in this comparison today. 


Also Read: Volkswagen Virtus 1.5 TSI GT Manual Debuts Alongside New Trims For Taigun GT

Switchable infotainment and climate controls is a unique feature in the new Verna.


You get a wireless charger, a two-spoke steering wheel is seen for the first time in a Hyundai in India while ventilation works much better here when you compare it to the Virtus. You also get a Bose surround sound system, ambient lighting in 64 colours and Verna is the only car in the segment with heated front seats as well as an electrically adjustable seat for the driver. Switchable infotainment and climate controls is a unique feature makes the car sort of standout when you compare it to its rivals.

Touchscreen system in Virtus offers amazing clarity and is very responsive. 


The Virtus feels equally premium and if not more, and the layout of the cabin is ergonomically sound, looking at the placement of switches. While it gets most of the features the Verna gets, the list of connectivity options though is not that long. However, the touchscreen system offers amazing clarity and is very responsive. The red highlights on the dashboard, which are specific to the Wild Cherry Red paint scheme add a bit of novelty. 

A light interior theme works well for the Honda City. 


The Honda City with its light interior feels quite roomy and some of the dials here have aged well. But the buttons on the steering or even the quality of touchscreen can still get better. The car gets 37 features through Honda Connect, a 5-year free subscription being an added advantage. This also works with smart watches, Alexa as well as OK Google. 


Also Read: Honda’s Upcoming Hyundai Creta Rival Named Elevate; Debut In June

2nd row of the Verna is much more spacious then earlier.


On the second row, both the Virtus and Verna impress, especially the latter which has seen a massive improvement in this new generation when it comes to headroom and legroom. Virtus is the only car here that gives you adjustable headrests for all three passengers while the Verna misses out on that for the middle passenger. Both cars also give you plenty of charging ports and overall if you’re buying either of them to spend time in the second row you won’t feel disappointed.

You don't get are adjustable headrests in the 2nd row of the City.


The Honda City has the least wheelbase amongst all three cars, but surprisingly the leg room is quite good, and two six-footers can comfortably sit one behind the other. While knee room is impressive, headroom is pretty similar to the other two cars. You get a centre armrest with two cup holders much like the rivals but what you don't get are adjustable headrests, which is a bit of a disappointment. 

Virtus is the only car here that gives you adjustable headrests for all three passengers. 


When it comes to boot space it is the Verna (528 L) that races slightly ahead while the City (506 L) takes the last spot. But only on the Virtus (521 L boot) can the second row fold down to make for an increased luggage space of 1050 litres.



At 158 bhp and 253 Nm Verna has the most powerful engine in the segment. 


All three cars here run on 1.5 Litre petrol engines. The Hyundai Verna, just like all other offerings from the brand, gets a decent number of options when it comes to engines and gearbox. You can choose from two petrol mills and we drove the new 1.5 litre turbo that is a highlight on this new generation. At 158 bhp and 253 Nm it is the most powerful engine in the segment and also gets the maximum torque. Apart from a 6-speed manual, there’s a 7-speed DCT to go with that, so what you get is a drive that is reasonably sporty and the drivetrain is equally responsive to your needs. 

Despite having a turbo engine, the suspension on the Verna feels a bit on the softer side. 


What really can contribute to an even more engaging drive on the new Verna that's sort of missing even on the turbo version is the lack of steering feedback and also the way the suspension behaves. So, despite having a turbo engine, the suspension on this car feels a bit on the softer side and even the steering wheel can have better feedback. The car comes with three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport and although the difference between these modes can be more apparent, they do help you decide if you want more fuel economy or a more spirited drive. Talking about fuel economy, Hyundai is claiming at least 20 kmpl on both the manual and DCT options with this turbo engine. 

Virtus is clearly the best driver’s car in the segment. 


When you jump into the Virtus GT straight after driving the Verna, you do get a feeling that this car has a slight edge when it comes to the entire drive experience. Yes you do get slightly less power (148 bhp) and torque (250 Nm) but with a stiffer ride quality and a steering wheel that is really engaging, there are things more than make up for that. Add to that the brilliant 7-speed DSG, and what you clearly have is the best driver’s car in the segment. It's also a sedan that handles brilliantly, you can throw it around corners at high speeds and just not get disappointed with its road manners.

The fuel efficiency here on this 1.5 engine is around 18.5 kmpl. 


On the Virtus the engine noise is a little bit sweeter when compared to the Verna, and it is quite rev-happy. The pick-up is spirited, and car responds to your requests with aplomb. This one can be driven at triple digits speeds all day long without losing any steam. For a more engaging drive, there’s always the Sport mode while you can also take greater control of the car using paddle shifters. VW has also recently added a manual version to the GT line-up enhancing the appeal of the car.

There are some departments in which the sedan continues to excel, like ride quality.


The Honda City on the other hand doesn’t really give you an enthusiastic drive but it’s not exactly made to do that. The manual that we drove provides linear acceleration and the gearshifts are quite smooth and easy to slot. There are some departments in which the sedan continues to excel. If you’re used to this car for a long time and are happy with its ride quality, the facelift will definitely not disappoint you. This is the car where you can spend a long time driving or getting driven in and you will not be complaining about the ride quality of the car. 

City is a car that really shines in bumper-to-bumper traffic.


The Honda City knows India really well. It knows the Indian road conditions really well, it knows all the situations you will face when you are driving out on the roads, suspension is tuned very nicely to take on all the different kind of challenges that will be thrown on this car. Apart from the manual you also get the option of CVT and when you compare it to the other two cars we’re driving both of which come with a DCT gearbox,  so these are sort of opposites. But if you drive in the urban chaos, the CVT is all you need at most times. This is a car that really shines in bumper-to-bumper traffic.



Virtus meanwhile boasts of a 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. 


On to safety and all these cars score quite well. With this recently launched facelift, the Honda City got 6 ADAS features from its hybrid counterpart while the new Verna scores even better on that front as it gets as many as 17 Level 2 ADAS functions. The Virtus meanwhile boasts of a 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and has more than 40 safety features in all.



The top turbo Verna is more affordable than the Virtus GT.


When it comes to the prices, there isn’t much that separates these cars. While the City is priced between Rs. 11.55 lakh and Rs. 15.79 lakh ex-showroom, the Virtus starts at Rs. 11.48 lakh for the base 1.0 liter and goes up to Rs. 18.57 lakh for this top GT plus DSG. The Turbo Verna is priced between Rs. 14.83 lakh and Rs. 17.38 lakh, ex-showroom while the base EX will cost you Rs. 10.90 lakh.



Virtus is a car that really engages you more so as a driver. 


It indeed is a close battle between all these three compact sedans and to choose one winner among these three isn’t easy. The City continues to be a car that gives you great ride quality,  you can spend hours here without getting tired. The engine is extremely refined; something you like as a driver or even as a passenger. The Virtus  meanwhile is a car that really engages you more so as a driver. The build quality is amazing, the way the drivetrain responds is really nice and of course safety is 5-star which is paramount for a lot of buyers. 

As an overall package, the Hyundai Verna comes out on top in this showdown. 


Finally, the Hyundai Verna, the latest entrant to the segment is solidly keeping in tune with the changing times. It scores well when it comes to tech and features, and it sets many new benchmarks in this really competitive segment. So, for now, it gets slightly difficult to get past the overall package this Korean product offers.  

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