Just when you thought there were no more niches left in the ever crowded Indian Indian car market, Hyundai has gone and found another one. The Korean company believes there is a tiny gap between the I 10 and I 20 and has plugged it with yet another hatchback, called the Grand i10, which is all set to make its world debut in India.
As the rather unimaginative name suggests, the Hyundai Grand i10`is essentially a ‘grander’ version of the i10, which means it’s larger and positioned in a sub-segment higher. Built on Hyundai’s BA platform, the Grand i10 is essentially a stretched version of the next-generation i10 (With a 100mm longer wheelbase) that is set for a global debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Hyundai won’t offer the Grand i10 for European markets – they will instead get the smaller version of the new i10 that will replace the current model. In India, the Hyundai Grand i10 will co-exist with the current i10 which Hyundai is loathe to phase out as it still sells a cool 7,000 units a month. Besides, the Grand i10 is a completely different car and has little in common with its predecessor.
The first impression of Hyundai Grand i10 is that of a mature hatchback with noticeably restrained styling (by Hyundai standards). Of course, you can’t miss the Hyundai styling cues like the two-part grille with the prominent hexagonal air vent below and slot-like opening above. The shapely headlights, which sharply taper towards the bonnet and fender, look fantastic and add a dollop of sophistication to the car’s looks, as do the very upmarket looking ‘pull-type’ door handles.
However, the Grand i10 has fewer of the company’s Fluidic Sculpture’ design cues than the i20 and even the cheaper Eon, with fewer cuts and creases. In fact, the Grand i10’s character lines are more subtle and less pronounced to give this new hatchback a slightly understated look to suit the conservative tastes of budget car buyers, who find the aggressive styling of the Eon a bit too over the top.
Also, the window line of the Grand i10 isn’t as sharply raked as the European i10 and the doors are longer to make getting in and out easy for large Indian families.
From the rear, the grand i10 has more than a passing resemblance to the i20, but without the pronounced creases. The highlight really is the wraparound tail-lamps, which extend deep into the shoulder line to give a nice stylistic touch.
What Hyundai has got spot on are the overall proportions of the Grand i10. The gently sloping inch wheels and the subtle roof rails all add up to give the car a nice stance.
Hyundai’s strategy is to offer best-in-class features on all its models and the new Grand i10 is no exception. The car comes with a host of features that are segment firsts. This includes a cooled glovebox, auto-folding mirrors (which have turn indicators integrated in them) rear parking sensors, IGB of storage for the two-DIN audio system, and a rear air-con vent. Remember, this car is aimed at the likes of the Ford Figo and Honda Brio, which feel Spartan in comparison. The cabin is well made by class standards, with decent plastics and chunky, tactile switchgear and air vents. A smart instrument cluster houses incredibly clear and legible dials that looks brilliant when lit.
Storage space is again very generous. Apart from a large boot, the Grand i10’s cabin abounds with lots of cubbyholes and large door pockets that can comfortably hold one-litre bottles. Even the solid rear parcel shelf has recesses to hold stuff.
The front seats are nicely bolstered and, in fact, have a sporty feel to them. The rear seats have impressive legroom, but the squab is set a touch too low and this makes the window line feel quite high from the inside. Thigh support is good and it’s quite comfortable to sit three abreast at the rear but not over long distances. The Grand i10 simply doesn’t have long distances. The Grand i10 simply doesn’t have the width or shoulder room of the Tata Indica and the middle passenger has to contend with the air-con vent, which eats into the legroom.
The talking point of the Hyundai Grand i10 is under the hood. Powering this new hatchback is an all-new 1.1-litre, three-cylinder diesel motor (codename: U2) that develops an estimated 70bhp (the power and torque figures have not been disclosed yet). This new engine is essentially the four-cylinder 1.4 CRDi unit from the i20 and Verna, with a cylinder chopped off. Counterbalancing shafts have been used to iron out the inherent imbalance of a three-cylinder configuration.
The Grand i10will also come with the familiar 1.2 litre Kappa 2 petrol engine with a four-speed automatic as an option, but it’s only the diesel that we were given to test drive.
We had high expectations of this new compact motor, especially since Hyundai has made great strides in diesel technology. However, when you first fire the engine, you are immediately reminded that this is a diesel and a three-cylinder one at that. At idle, you can’t miss that sharp diesel clatter which sounds like a muted pneumatic hammer, but thanks fully as you slot first gear and move off, the clatter subsides. At low revs, the engine is never intrusive and it’s only when you near the redline that the diesel roar can be heard.
The open highway outside Hyderabad airport also served to highlight another of this engine’s weaknesses – a lack of outright punch. Performance feels smooth and linear at best, but you truly miss that strong surge in the mid-range which is so typical of more powerful diesel motors.
The top end isn’t strong either; the engine labours as you approach the 4,000rpm mark and it’s best to upshift early. Overtaking on the highway won’t be effortless, especially with a full load of passengers and luggage.
At low speeds, however, this compact diesel motor is pretty responsive. There’s very little turbo lag and the Grand i10 smartly darts forward from as low as 1,200rpm. In fact, this is one of the most tractable small diesels around. Clearly, this diesel engine has been tuned to perform city duties. It has a flat torque curve and, coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox with short gearing, the Grand i10 can effortlessly amble around in town without the need to constantly shift. The gearbox is quite smooth and the clutch pretty high which adds to the car’s urban appeal.
It was hard to gauge ride and handling on our short drive on the smooth airport road but the immediate takeaway is the sense of stability and surefootedness the Grand i10 offers at high speeds. It feels much more planted than the current regular i10, and even in cross winds is quite light and weigh up well at speed, but it doesn’t feel consistent nor delivers feedback in a linear way. Hyundai still has some way to go before it can match Ford’s steering feel, which is the benchmark today.
Boxed in between the i10 and i20, the Grand i10 doesn’t have too much room to manouvre with its pricing, and hence we expect a starting price of Rs 4 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) when it goes on sale next month.
There’s no doubt that the Grand i10, with all this equipment, will be fantastic value. Besides, there aren’t too many diesel options at this end of the market and this should seriously work in Hyundai’s favour. However, without even driving it we get the feeling that the petrol version with the familiar 1.2 Kappa engine will be the more popular variant to lead Hyundai’s charge into this new sub-segment.