Hyundai Santro


July 1

The Hyundai Santro singlehandedly helped Hyundai establish itself in the Indian market. The ‘tall boy’ looks were slightly odd but luckily for Hyundai, buyers looked past that and saw what a good small car it was. Twenty years later, when Hyundai thought of recreating the Santro magic, they decided to take a different approach.

The new Santro’s styling, like the original, still takes some getting used to. The big gaping grille may not be to everyone’s tastes and dominate the whole front end of the vehicle. The side profile has a Honda Mobilio style kink at the rear window line to improve outward visibility for rear passengers. The window frame around the quarter glass doesn’t follow the curve of the door and they have drawn attention to it by leaving it body coloured. There are no alloy wheels on offer. You can find some i10 elements in the styling all around the car. There are boomerang shaped creases on the wheel arches that are unique. It doesn’t break the convention as the original Santro did twenty years ago and you will warm up to it quite fast.

What you will immediately appreciate is the interior. The dashboard is very well laid out and there is a quality feel to everything. The AC vents are inspired by those in a Mercedes, the switchgear feels nice and the sporty looking dials all add up. The centre console has the 7 inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, reverse camera and Bluetooth.  The visibility is great, thanks to the low window line and the car feels very manageable in traffic. The front seats have built in headrests and decent support on the sides. There is no adjustable steering and no height adjustment for the driver seat. The rear seat is a better place, with adequate space all around and good underthigh support. You also get rear AC vents and the cabin cooling is very effective.

While looking for a suitable engine, Hyundai didn’t forget to check the old attic for anything they could reuse. The Santro is powered by a reworked version of the Sanrto Xing’s 1.1 litre Epsilon engine. It now produces 69bhp and 99Nm and is just as responsive as the original. It is quite eager to pull from low revs and has good midrange punch. It doesn’t like to be revved like the Maruti’s K10 unit, but it is impressive – the refinement this four cylinder engine has. The Santro also gets Hyundai’s own AMT that works well. The engagement of clutch and the shifting of gears take place rather smoothly, but it takes some time like most automated manuals. It shifts down willingly for a quick overtake, but at times, it does get caught up without upshifting.

Hyundai has tuned the Santro’s suspension very well. It tackles bad roads really well, absorbing most bumps and soaking up all but the deepest of potholes. The steering is light and doesn’t self center properly, but you can place the car where you want. It does feel stable at medium speeds and doesn’t get unsettled on broken patches.

The Santro takes the game forward for Hyundai and filling in the gap between the Eon and Grand i10 where the old i10 used to be. It feels well-made and the interiors are impressive. You do get a lot of kit right from the 7 inch touch screen, to reverse camera, parking sensors, rear AC vents etc. The engine may be old, but it still works. The ride quality and back seat are yet another big plus. With stiff competition, it won’t be an easy victory as the old Santro had, twenty years ago, but the new Santro seems to have what it takes to battle it out today.

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Vivek Venugopal is one of India’s top automotive writers with over a decade’s experience in road-testing and reviewing cars. He is currently the Editor of Quarter Mile magazine and a columnist in several leading magazines and newspapers. He is also a highly sought after consulting engineer and market analyst for many automobile manufacturers.





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