Hyundai i10
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: 9/10
: 2 Yrs / Unlimited Kms (Whichever is earlier)
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Strong Areas

  • Good value for money
  • Futuristic fluidic design 
  • Good engine range choice 
  • Awesome driving position
  • Top notch interior quality & fit-finish

Weak Areas

  • Diesel missing
  • Rear seat for 2 only
  • Small tyres lacks grip
  • Slow speed bad ride quality 
  • Bright beige gets dirty easily
Hyundai i10

Maruti A-Star & Hyundai i10- Twin Test

If A-Star has got the badge of reliable Maruti, i10 has been the car of the Year  to boast of. So do A-Star has the potential to outshine the i10? A comparison can really help in making the picture clearer.



ecardlr.com National


Star Struck?
Few budget cars are better suited to the cut and trust of urban driving than this pair. But can the Maruti A-star ourshine the 2008 Car of the Year. Hyundai’s i10?
This, in all certainty, is by far the most important comparison test we are likely to conduct this year. Carrying far more weightage than a mere punch up between a couple of city cars, this battle pits two small car producing giants as well as their engineering and design philosophies. And the repercussions of this head to head clash run deeper.
This, simply put, is nothing less than a battle for supremacy. A face-off for the ownership of the best small car title in India. Has Maruti’s new A-star, engineered with literally decades of experience in the market, got what it takes to dethrone 2008’s Car of the Year? Does it have the necessary appeal and technical sophistication to dethrone Hyundai, which has been finishing top of the small car pile since it introduced the Santro over a decade ago? Critically, which is the better car, the one that deserves pride of place in your driveway?
Both cars have the same basic function, that of city runabouts, but they differ in their approach. While the i10 is a less radical version of the Santro’s tall boy design philosophy, the new A-star is less practical. More from the ‘style and attitude is vital’ school of Suzuki Swift design, the funky looking A-star wears its heart on its sleeve. It is low slung compared to the i10; the profile of the roof and the manner in which it tapers to the rear clearly mark this out to be a car where function follows from. And the form is pretty impressive.
The A-star’s nose is rounded and really cute, with high-mounted headlights and a low-mounted grille. ‘Pop up’ turning lights encased within the headlight cluster stand out; the car’s designers have also given prominence to the wheel arches and the rising window line as a result of which the rear window is almost triangular. The rear door is also small, not much wider than your cupboard door, and this along with the tiny shallow boot clearly indicate that rear passenger comfort and luggage space are not areas of priority. While many don’t like the look of the car from the rear ad some are still not sold on the front either, it is a design that grows on you.
In comparison, the i10 is built with much more attention to the rear seats and luggage space. Its wheelbase is 20mm longer than the A-star and there is 225 litres of luggage capacity to the A-star’s 129 litres The design is also less radical. While it has similar high-mounted headlight and a low grille, the i10 also features a decorative bikini grille between the headlights. It’s not as sporty looking as the A-star but conventionally correct proportions and crisp detailing means this design is likely to age more gracefully. We all however agreed that the i10’s rear looks more attractive.
Under the skin the rivals are pretty similar. Front-wheel drive, transverse motors and independent front suspensions with torsion beam rears. Discs at the front and drums at the rear are responsible for braking, with ABS available on the A-star only, and both cars use column-mounted electrical power steering systems.
Both cars also use relatively sophisticated front suspensions. The A-star’s is very similar to that used on the Swift, with the Hyundai also using a lower A-arm mounted on a stiff sub-frame. While the A-star seems to have the stiffer chassis, it’s the i10 that has a marginally better build.
Interestingly, a commonality is the fact that both cars are made in India for a global audience. While the i10 is exported worldwide, the A-star is marketed as the new Alto in Europe.
Sit down in the A-star and you are greeted by a modern-looking cabin, on which Suzuki designers seem to have spent much time. Blending fresh shapes with multiple colours, the cabin and especially the central console are like no other.
The high-mounted vents might restrict vision and are in your face, but they allow for a high-mounted music system, an illuminated shelf and a large storage area at the base, perfect to stack your CDs. The entire dash has an attractive ‘V’ shape and the use of three shades further embellishes it. There are a couple of cupholders and a second shelf over the glovebox but the front door pockets are really shallow.
Settle into the driver’s seat and you soon notice that you are sitting quite low, but it’s comfortable enough. There is plenty of legroom and travel on the large seats and back and thigh support is good. What you miss however is steering wheel or seat height adjust, especially as you are sitting low down. Swift and SX4 bit like the steering wheel, gear lever and vents abound which add to the overall ambience. However, lots of cheap plastic bits and ill-fitting panel seriously detract from the quality of the interior.
The i10 actually feels better built on the inside and more grown up. The design of the dash merges with that of the doorpads and there is a nice flow and maturity to it. You don’t get the feeling that you are inside a basic econo box, which is primarily down to the design, colours and material used. Unlike the A-star, this car uses light, space-enhancing being with black employed where hands tend to soil the light colour. There is some amount of reflection in direct sunlight but this is not a huge problem. The steering wheel is adjustable (but seat height is not), the central console-mounted gear lever is very conveniently placed, and the manner in which most of the controls function gives the interiors an upmarket feel. Also, you get some storage between the seats due to the high-mounted gear lever.
The i10’s driver’s seat is a better place to be seated as you are seated higher which makes for better visibility and superior utilisation of space. The A-pillar is less intrusive than on the Suzuki, the mirrors offer much a wider field of view, and the i10 is also infinitely easier to reverse. In comparison, the A-star has poor rear visibility due to thick pillar. The i10’s front seats are also slender and not as thick as those on the A-star, which again allows for more legroom at the rear. If you are keen on rear seat comfort, it really is no contest as the i10 is far superior for both comfort and access.
The A-star’s doors are tiny, which makes access difficult. What’s more, the roof is low and legroom is very tight. The seatback extends only till the middle of your back and the large front headrest and upward sweeping kink in the rear door mean you feel hemmed in due to the dramatically reduced glass area. The i10 could have had better headroom and more width, but if you want more space at the rear for the same price, you’ll have to look at larger cars like the Indica, the Vista or the Palio.
The A-star ZXi offers more equipment for your money. It comes with four power windows, ABS, airbags, a CD player and remote locking for only Rs 35,000 more than the top-end i10 1.1. Hyundai offers none of these, even as options.
The K10B that powers the new A-star is a brand-new high-tech motor. Very compact but bristling with modern technology, this three-cylinder engine not only has four valves per cylinder, but also features twin overhead camshafts for better valve control. Despite being 90cc and one cylinder down on the Hyundai, is still makes a similar 66bhp. Suzuki has also managed to keep the weight of this DOHC head down as no rocker arms are used. The long-stroke pistons have short skirts to improve efficiency and reduce mass and the motor runs a high 10:1 compression ratio.
The first thing you realise when you set off in traffic is that this motor is really free-revving, constantly urging you to get a move on. It makes the A-star feel light and agile to drive. The car displays a good turn of foot too when you ask for some extra performance, revving freely beyond 6000rpm. It can quickly change gait from a canter to a gallop, allowing you to surge ahead and that makes this car fun to drive. However, the motor isn’t perfect. It does get thrummy after 4000rpm with a certain amount of discordance emitted from the three-cylinder motor and the midrange isn’t as strong as that of the i10 either. This means you need to downshift more often compared to the i10. There is also some degree of jerkiness when negotiating stop/start traffic as the three-cylinder doesn’t run smoothly. And this motor has an unsettled idle too that makes the cabin shudder.
Despite being smaller than the Hyundai engine, the Suzuki is quicker in the flatout sprint. 0-100kph in the A-star takes 15.30 second and the car manages to pipe the i10 to 140 too. The i10’s stronger midrange however shows up in the in-gear slog where it clearly pulls ahead of the A-star. The iRDE motor is well known for its torquey nature. It is a smooth and refined motor and the i10 is even better to drive in traffic than the A-star. Idle is near-silent and vibration-free compared to the A-star. This three valves per cylinder unit pulls cleanly and silently from very low engine speeds and acceleration in the midrange is very strong too. But spin the motor faster and it feels strained towards the top end, which explains why it isn’t quicker in a straight line. The i10’s central column-mounted gear lever is slicker to use. The next gear is only a flick of the wrist away and it’s much lighter to use too. However, the A-star has a dead pedal that the i10 lack. It has a lighter clutch too.
The nicest part about the A-star is the manner in which it rides and handles. Taking advantage of the stiffer chassis, wide track and high profile tyres, Maruti seems to have found the ideal setup. Ride quality though is not pillow-soft as some stiffness is present. Ride quality however is quite comfortable even though there are some sharp vertical movements.
In comparison, the i10 has a much more plaint setup. It’s more comfortable at slower speeds but once speeds build, the relative lack of body control gets irritating. The front suspension is alright, but large undulations or changes in the level of the road cause the rear to bob. Once you are traveling faster than jogging speeds, the A-star’s superior body control is clearly the more comfortable of the two and you’re not bounced around in the least. There is however some amount of road noise present.
While the i10 is nice and light to drive in traffic, the A-star easily puts it in the shade as you go faster. Like the Swift, the A-star is a car that genuinely is fun to drive. The steering has a bit of a dead zone in the straight ahead, but once you push the car harder and load up the suspension the A-star really displays poise, balance and confidence rarely found in a car of this class. With its willing top-end performance, confidence-inspiring brake pedal and eagerness to tackle corners, the A-star feels a special little car. Shame about the lack of bite from the narrow 155 tyres though as the car soon runs out of grip. The i10 may have provided for easily the best driving experience in its class when launched and it remains a car with admirable driving manners with a well setup front suspension and similar levels of steering feedback as the A-star, but the Suzuki is more entertaining to drive.
We expected the A-star with its smaller capacity motor to be considerably more fuel efficient than the i10 but we were surprised by the results. We tested, then retested but the A-star was only marginally better in city traffic, with 12.1kpl to the i10’s 12.0kpl. The A-star is not as driveable at low engine speeds and you have to downshifts to a lower gear more often. The i10’s lower gearing in first and second gears also helps. On the highway though the A-star has a clear advantage and overall comes out on top.
The compact A-star with its buzzy and willing motor, easy handling and agility is a great city car. The cheeky styling and funky interiors give it lots of attitude as well. It is superbly equipped with safety features not found in other cars in this price bracket. Fuel efficiency is good and being a Maruti, the A-star should be easy on the pocket. The rear seats, however, are small and cramped, luggage space is severely compromised, and that makes it a less than an ideal family car, a role these cars are more often than not expected to play.
The i10, though around Rs 35,000 cheaper than the A-star ZXi, is woefully short on equipment and feels like a bare cave in comparison. But begin to drive the Hyundai and it’s clearly the more practical of the two cars. It has a strong and smooth motor, far better interiors and crucially offers more space and comfort. It comes out as the more complete car to win this test.

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