20131118

Driven #23: 2013 Hyundai Grand i10 Petrol

The i10 has been a stellar performer for Hyundai Motor India Limited. It not only received critical acclaim by winning every single “Car of the Year” title on debut but also went on to become one of the largest selling cars in our country. If our calculations are right, it is also, by far, the largest single nameplate exported from India, thus establishing the company's Indian facility as a trusty export base for small cars. Launched in 2007, the i10 immediately established itself as the segment benchmark for refinement and build quality. The only chink in its armor was the absence of a diesel engine option.


Now in its second generation, the i10 gets a ‘Grand’ prefix, has grown up a bit, is positioned a sub-segment higher and, most importantly, comes with the option of a diesel engine under the hood. With this repositioning, the Grand i10 is also now a direct competitor to the Swift that's ruling the sales charts month on month. Has the Grand i10 got what it takes to usurp the leader? We took the petrol-powered Sportz variant out for a quick spin to find out.

TO LOOK AT:

It seems the designers at Hyundai’s Russelsheim center in Germany set out on imparting the ‘fluidic sculpture’ a crash course on simplicity. The curves are straightened and the flamboyance reduced. As a result, the Grand i10 looks way less dramatic compared to the blitzkrieg created by models like the Verna, Sonata and Elantra when launched.



But that doesn’t mean the car isn’t a looker. With those stretched headlights and the single slat grille with a hexagonal air intake below, the front end of the Grand i10 is a replica of other Hyundai models, albeit with subtle changes. The foglamp enclosures, for instance, are shaped rather nicely while the bumper is aggressive with spoiler-like creases at both edges. Despite the chrome door handles, roof rails and thick rub-strips above the rocker panel trying their best to spice things up, the profile isn’t that catchy. Blame it on the ‘unique-for-India’ modifications that Hyundai did to suit our ‘desi’ requirements. The international i10 looks much sleeker with steeply-raked windows and a wraparound rear windscreen. But, its the Grand i10’s rear that left us thoroughly impressed. The chic taillamps, the neat roof spoiler and the sculpted bumper with integrated reflectors give the car an attractive European flair that’s hard to miss. The large Hyundai logo in the center conceals the tailgate opener, like in the i20.


Attention to detail is remarkable, be it in the thin metallic inserts in the taillight clusters, the sleek repeater lamps in the rear view mirrors or the neat little badges in the boot-lid. Unlike some competitors, usage of chrome is limited which helps in increasing the overall appeal.



If you have been looking for those stunning diamond-cut alloy wheels that created a flutter in the press advertisements, do note that they are available as an option only in the Asta variant. Despite being the top but one trim level, the Sportz variant misses out on those wheels as well as on certain essential features such as rear defogger, washer and wiper.

With the Swift showing no signs of slowing down and competition from the Polo, Brio and Etios Liva heating up of late, the success of Grand i10 is extremely important for Hyundai to maintain its market share in the high-volume small car segment. And the Grand i10, with its ‘please all, offend none’ philosophy looks potent to rule the segment.

TO SIT IN:

The first thing that strikes as soon as we step into the Grand i10 is the quality of interiors and the overall fit and finish. While the interiors of the old i10 was already amongst the best in segment, the Grand i10 takes it a few notches higher. In fact, this hatchback is so good that it could put some cars from two segments above to shame.



The two-tone dashboard has a mix of black and beige panels. Smartly, the portions that frequently come into contact with the occupants like the top of the dashboard, the area around the buttons in the center console and the door pads are finished in black. The rest of the interiors are logically laid out in a retro theme with none of the flashiness that we saw in other recent Hyundai models. Again, attention to detail is fantastic, as evident from the knurled finish in the buttons and the brushed silver finish that has been splashed tastefully across the cabin. We didn't quite like the circular shape of the air-conditioning vents that, despite giving a retro feel, lacks flair.

While the India-specific changes did reduce the style quotient of the Grand i10, they come across as the car's biggest asset inside. The rear seat is as spacious, if not more, than some sedans and the rear air-conditioning vents cool the cabin in a jiffy. Yeah, the quality of those vents and the pillar in which they are mounted isn't great, but who cares as long as it works perfectly? The rear bench is comfortable enough for three average-sized adults but the under-thigh support is just about adequate. The front seats do a much better job in terms of bolstering the passengers.



Like all Hyundai models, the Grand i10 boasts a long list of standard features that include rear parking sensors, keyless entry with button start, music system with 1 GB of inbuilt memory and even a cooled glove-box. What's not standard though are ABS and Airbags. Worse still, they aren't even available as an option in any variant except the top-end Asta. As much as Hyundai, we Indians are also to blame for showing manufacturers time and again that we prefer fancy features over safety. We wish the time comes when safety becomes a priority and not an option.

ON THE ROAD:

The big excitement surrounding the Grand i10 is the availability of a diesel engine for the first time. Despite testing the petrol Sportz variant, we did manage to eke out a real-quick drive in the Grand i10 CRDi. Powered by the 1.1-liter, 3-cylinder U2 engine, the car pumps out a modest 71 ps of power and 16.3 kgm of torque between 1500 to 2750 rpm. While we walked away impressed with its refinement and torquey low and mid-range, we weren't able to stretch its legs and verify the response at higher revs.



Coming back to our petrol-powered test car, it is the same 1.2-liter, 4-cylinder Kappa-2 engine that we have driven and experienced extensively in the i10 and i20 before. With 83 ps of maximum power and 11.6 kgm of peak torque, the Kappa-2 motor is a refined and powerful mill that lets the Grand i10 post impressive acceleration figures for a small car. The power delivery is linear and the car never keeps you wanting. Keep the engine revving between 1500 to 3500 rpm and the Grand i10 goes about its job fuss-free. Together with the butter-smooth gearshift that slots neatly and authoritatively into place, driving the Grand i10 is a pleasure. For sure, this Hyundai has got to be one of the best city cars available in the Indian market today.

To make your city drives even more easier and stress-free, Hyundai has launched the Grand i10 with a 4-speed automatic transmission last week. Looking at the number of i10 automatics running on our metros, We are sure that the Grand i10 Automatic is going to be extremely popular.



This being a short drive, we weren't able to stretch the Grand i10 out on a highway. But on the few pedal-to-the-floor stretches that we did encounter, the car showed adequate eagerness to gain momentum. It is only after 4000 rpm that the engine starts showing signs of strain.

Ride quality is better than many cars in the segment and the Grand i10 absorbs bumps and potholes without letting then into the cabin. Stability at triple digit speeds is good too and the Grand i10 handles much better than the i10 and i20. Steering feedback, Hyundai's bugbear for quite some time now, is good and is second only to the Elantra in the company's lineup. Having said that, it still has a long way to go to match segment stalwarts like the Fiat Grande Punto and Ford Figo. The brakes are responsive though and the Grand i10 sheds speed without much drama.


SPECIFICATIONS:


| Engine Type: Kappa-2, VTVT, DOHC |
| No of Cylinders: 4 |
| Displacement: 1199 cc |
| Maximum Power: 83 ps @ 6000 rpm |
| Maximum Torque: 11.6 kgm @ 4000 rpm |
| Transmission Type: 5-speed Manual |
| Tires: 165/65 R14 |
| Brakes: Disc (Front & Rear) |
 


WE VOTE FOR:

* Clean styling
* Interior quality, fit and finish
* Long list of standard features

WE VOTE AGAINST:

* Average handling
* Restricted safety features

VERDICT:




The Grand i10 is one of those cars that we could hardly find fault with. It looks good inside and out, is feature-loaded, boasts excellent fit and finish, provides the buyers with the option of a peppy petrol and a frugal diesel engine with the former also available with an automatic transmission, rides well and comes with Hyundai's reputed after-sales service backup. In front of these positive traits, the car's shortcomings in steering feedback and lack of safety features in mid variants are completely overshadowed.

With no major deal-breakers, the Grand i10 has 'blockbuster' written all over it. Book one now before the crowd realizes this and storms Hyundai dealerships.

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