When the Maruti Swift wrote the epitaph for Hyundai's Getz, India's first premium compact car, one could safely say that the Korean company would not take things lying down. That it has taken eight years for it to finally come up with a direct competitor to the Suzuki bestseller, though, has been a surprise.
Hyundai's fifth small car for India, then, is the Swift-rivalling Grand i10, which sits in the tiny slot between the existing i10 and i20 siblings. The name is perhaps a trifle misleading, since the car really looks more like the i20.
Hyundai has muted its famous fluidic design — which actually works quite well. The front is unmistakably Hyundai with the hexagonal grille, but it is much bigger and wider than the existing i10.
At the rear, too, the styling is subtle. The new wraparound tail lamps are definitely more contemporary than the one doing duty on the i10. Also Hyundai has paid attention to detail, and the car's waistline has been lowered to make the cabin feel less claustrophobic — a long time grievance with the Swift.
The interior of the Grand follows the staple script — bombard customers with features. There are a few segment firsts such as rear AC vents and internal memory in the music system. One may argue that there is little use for rear vents in a compact car, but then, if it is there, there is absolutely no harm.
While the dashboard layout is standard, the quality of plastic and dual tone colour theme do make it seem more premium than the current i10.
A lot of details are still awaited. The fuel economy, for instance, is yet to be ascertained. Overall, though, it seems that Hyundai has dealt an ace, provided they get the price right. Being a challenger, it needs to come at an entry price lower than the Swift. A repeat of the Eon hara-kiri a couple of years ago is still fresh in the memory.
The biggest talking point, however, would be the car's 1.1-litre diesel engine, which is small compared to the Ford Figo's 1.4-litre Duratorq and the Swift's 1.3-lire multijet engines. Up front, though, the Grand seems very capable and peppy, with negligible turbo lag, and acquits itself well even if it does not have the top end grunt of the Swift.
The handling — a sore point with Hyundai's offerings — appeared quite good, and it does not lose composure even at high speeds. Watch this space for a detailed test drive report.