6-ft 5-in tall guy compares 2023 Verna & Virtus after long test drives

Driving these cars back to back made me appreciate my Maruti S-cross a whole lot more.

BHPian gaurav_3000ad recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hi guys

Two days back I got the chance to drive the Volkswagen Virtus and the Hyundai Verna back to back. The TDs were longish (approx 10kms each) so got a decent grip on what to expect from both of these offerings. For context, my vehicle is the S-Cross 1.3L which I’ve been using since 2016 and it has got close to 90k on odo but still runs like a charm.

Models driven

  • Hyundai Verna 1.5 turbo SX variant (manual)
  • Volkswagen Virtus 1.5 turbo DSG

Exteriors and Looks

I know the Verna is supposed to have this futuristic and edgy look but it just doesn’t work for me. The front just looks like a toad face with a unibrow. The same design elements look really elegant on the Sonata though. The Sportback rear with the lightbar looks quite good. The best angle to view the Verna is from the rear 3/4th. However, I can't help but wince whenever I see that front end.

In contrast, the Virtus just smashes it out of the park. The elegant, timeless 3-box design, perfect hints of sportiness with the smoked-out lights and black alloys do lend it a whole lot of panache. The strong shoulder line and the proportionate profile are eye-catching and despite having almost 180mm of ground clearance, it doesn’t come across as ungainly.

Build quality

Another area where I feel that the Virtus has an upper hand. The doors and boots felt heavy and closed with a satisfying thud. Although the short time that I spent with both the vehicles doesn’t let me make an assured statement, the knowledge of the GNCAP rating in favour of the Virtus tilts the scales here a bit. Going by their track record I doubt that Hyundai can make a massive gain on the safety front with the Verna. (I’d love to be proven wrong though!).


I’m a tall guy (6’5” of humanity) so space really matters a lot. I think both the vehicles are quite spacious with the front seats having acceptable levels of fore and aft travel to accommodate my tall legs. The Verna does have more in-cabin space and has an edge when it comes to rear legroom. But I found the Virtus front seats to be more comfortable especially the squab which offered better under thigh support.

Headroom is lacking in both the vehicles when I compare them with the S-cross and it didn’t help that both variants which I test drove came with a sunroof. I would gladly sacrifice this for an inch more headroom. Height-adjustable seats do help out though.

Both vehicles had humongous boots, much larger than my S-cross.

Interiors and infotainment unit

Verna is a clear step ahead of the Virtus when it comes to interior feel and ambience. The ambient lighting, the soft touch material on the dash, the meaty steering with the red stitching, the angled infotainment unit, the superb AC vents – the Verna oozes opulence and it was a really nice place to be in. The Virtus is let down by the abundance of hard plastics and the lack of differentiating elements. It looks quite generic in my opinion. Even my S-cross has soft touch plastics on the dash which lend the interior a touch of premiumness.

The infotainment unit and the digital instrument cluster is another area where the Verna scores with a much slicker unit. It is more responsive to inputs and comparable to most current-gen smartphones. In contrast, there is a perceptible lag on the Virtus HU. Don’t get me wrong, it responds the way you want it to – no missed touches, but just feels a step down from the Verna. I experimented with wireless Apple carplay on the Virtus and it was flawless. I think even the Verna has this feature though I didn’t try it out.

I’m not much of an audiophile but both systems got plenty loud. Verna has this party trick wherein it uses the same controls for auto AC and the audio system. It's really ingenious and thoughtful.

Air conditioner

Normally this would not warrant a subheading but the Virtus was so bad that I felt I had to make a mention. Both TDs were in Lucknow summers with outside temperatures in excess of 35 deg C. The Virtus took ages to cool down the cabin and the blower sound at max AC was irritating and annoying. The ventilated seats were on the whole time but I couldn’t feel a thing (It probably needs a cool cabin to be most effective). This could be a dealbreaker for some people. You will have to park in covered parking or shady areas in summer otherwise the Virtus will extract its pound of flesh when you return. The ownership threads report improvements with software updates. I seriously hope it's true.

Verna performed well in this area. Crisp, cool and efficient.

Performance and handling

This is one aspect which confused me. Both cars come with powerful turbo engines. Floor the accelerator and the vehicles sprint forward with alacrity. The Virtus with the DSG is truly a match made in heaven. Slot it into Sport mode and floor the accelerator. The exhaust rewards you with a booming sound as the vehicle reaches illegal speeds in no time at all. I found myself desperately searching for open gaps in traffic to let the Virtus stretch her long-running legs.

Verna was also quite similar with the engine building up speeds in no time at all. The manual gearbox was slick with short throws and a real pleasure to use.

I think what set both vehicles apart was the handling. At higher speeds, the Virtus felt rock solid, with the steering heavy with tactile feel and feedback and the driver in total control. In the Verna, I felt as though I was hanging on for dear life. At higher speeds minor road undulations make the Verna wallow around and this led to a lack of confidence to push the car. The engine deserves a more mature suspension and steering. Probably something Hyundai intends to fix with the N line.

Driving the Virtus and Verna back to back made me appreciate my S-cross a whole lot more. The vehicle remains rock solid at highway speeds with a decent heft to the steering and very predictable handling.

Ride quality

I think this goes hand in hand with the handling department. At city speeds, Verna is a hoot to drive with light steering and a cushy ride. The same elements prove to be its bane at highway speeds. The bridge joints and minor potholes make the Verna dance about in an unsettling manner. But I think it will be a crowd-pleaser. My wife who also drove both the vehicles commented on how easy the Verna feels to drive.

The word to describe the ride quality of Virtus is ‘SOLID’. It has a very mature suspension (pardon my lack of technical) which takes bumps and undulations with ease at both slow and fast speeds. The Virtus does the moonwalk over the same bridge joints where the Verna would break into a tap dance. The additional ground clearance over the Verna also helps with peace of mind while tackling bigger speed breakers.

Additional observations by the fairer sex

  • The colour options on the Virtus are much more classier and appealing.
  • The interiors on the Verna just make you go ‘Wow’.
  • Verna is really simple to drive in traffic and congested areas.
  • Ambient lighting on the Verna is on point.
  • Verna is more spacious than the Virtus.

Final observations

An area where the Verna trumps the Virtus is the number of service centres and touchpoints available. Hyundai sells a whole lot more cars than VW but still, VW/Skoda group have a disproportionately higher number of horror stories regarding their breakdowns and part availability issues. Being in a transferable job, this point matters a lot.

I am looking at a timeline of mid-next year to upgrade my S-cross and at present, I am heavily leaning toward the Virtus. My variant of choice would definitely be the 1.5 turbo with the manual gearbox. Can’t make myself touch the DSG with a barge pole regardless of how much I enjoyed driving it.

Ending this post with a couple of pictures. The Virtus looks rather dapper in this silver shade accentuating its sharp features.

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