Hyundai's upcoming hatchback (New Santro?) caught testing in Chennai

It's been almost 20 years since Hyundai, an unknown South Korean brand then, made its debut in India with the odd-looking Santro. The rest, as they say, is history with the Santro becoming a phenomenal success and paving the way for the Korean car-maker's rise in the market. It appears Hyundai is planning big for its twentieth anniversary by launching an all-new small car. And you know what, it might be called - you guessed it right - the 'Santro'.

Caught testing in one of the busy thoroughfares in the heart of Chennai last evening, Hyundai's upcoming hatchback has started shedding some of its camouflage. Though not visible in these images, the car sports a new version of Hyundai's now-popular cascading grille up front with prominent chrome slats. While the rest of the sheet metal still lie hidden beneath the camouflage, the glasshouse makes it pretty clear that the car is designed to be a 'Tall Boy' - just like Wagon-R, Celerio and the old Santro. In profile, the sharp cut in the rear quarter glass and the plastic wheel caps can be clearly seen.

When launched later this year, Hyundai's new hatchback - said to be code-named AH2 internally - is expected to challenge arch-rival Maruti-Suzuki's big-selling Celerio. That would mean the new Santro (or whatever it's called) would slot in between the Eon and the Grand i10 in Hyundai's lineup. Whilst not aesthetically pleasing, the trump card of Tall Boys like this test car are the abundant space and practicality they offer in a compact footprint. Expect this new hatchback from Hyundai to offer all of that with an added dose of style and quality that the Korean brand is known for. 

Hyundai has not revealed the specifications of the car yet. So, it is not clear what's under the hood. Will a reworked version of the popular 1.1-liter 4-cylinder Epsilon unit that powered the old Santro and the i10 make a comeback under the hood of this car? Or, will Hyundai plonk in the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder mill from the Eon to keep costs in check? Take a wild guess, we don't know that yet! Irrespective of the engine powering the car, reports indicate that an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) will be on offer in addition to the standard 5-speed manual gearbox to cater to the growing demand of automatic cars in India.

From what we know, Hyundai seems to be betting on the right cards with this new hatchback. Will the Koreans hit jackpot like they did with the original Santro in 1998? Let's wait and watch!

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