A hatchback finds a new home in India every 20 seconds. And now, Hyundai Motor India has given us hatch-loving folk one more model to choose from. The Grand i10 is the fifth hatchback in Hyundai’s portfolio and wiggles into the gap between the i10 and i20.
The Grand i10 is essentially the next-generation i10 with revisions made specifically with the Indian consumer in mind (more on that later) and will be sold alongside the current i10. But, most importantly, the Grand i10 also gets Hyundai’s first, locally produced, small three-cylinder diesel engine which will, for the first time, give the company direct access into the relatively untapped small diesel hatchback segment in India.
The petrol motor is the familiar 1.2-litre Kappa2 engine that powers the regular i10 but in this test, we put the diesel mill through its paces.
Unlike the Eon or i20, Hyundai’s German design studio has kept the ‘Fluidic’ mantra in check. The lines are straighter, details more crisp and, while you may not find the styling awe-inspiring, there isn’t anything to dislike either. Also, the car looks more grown up, which will give it wider acceptance.
Up front, the big hexagonal lower air vent immediately catches your eye. It bears a slight resemblance to the Alto 800’s but it works quite well on this car and lends the Grand i10 a bold and youthful guise. Surrounding it are large and angular fog-lamp inserts and a sharp crease just below that ends in a tiny chin spoiler.
The angular theme continues above the bumper as well. A smart, single-slat grille complements the tapering headlamps and adds a touch of sleekness to the front.
The restrained styling cues at the sides make the Grand i10 look quite modest in profile. There aren’t any distractions and the eyes naturally follow the single crease that runs through the nice pull-type door handles, across the length of the car. As part of the top Asta trim, you get thick body mouldings which provide some visual relief.
But, from this view, the best bit has to be what Hyundai calls ‘diamond-cut’ alloy wheels. These optional two-tone eight-spoke alloys do a great job in making the car look chic and upmarket.
Hyundai has specially designed a less rakish window line for better visibility out the rear, a new C-pillar and larger rear doors, which makes getting in and out easy. The highlight of the rear really is the wraparound tail-lamps, which extend deep into the shoulder line to give a nice stylistic touch. While the large reflectors embedded in the rear bumper do look unique, they may not be to everybody’s tastes.
Slide into the comfortable driver’s seat and you are greeted by a chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel, which looks like it has been inspired by the Elantra and it has similar quality too. We also like the fact that the audio controls on it are well thought out. Functions you’d access the most often, such as mute and volume control, have been assigned larger buttons that are within easier reach. Hyundai has also made sure all the ‘touch-points’ exude a nice premium feel. The buttons are well damped and all the rotary knobs are treated with a premium knurled finish that further adds a touch of class to the cabin. What is surprising though is that even on the highest spec car, Hyundai has omitted climate control and given a manual air-con instead. Also, while the HVAC controls are large and within easy reach, they are quite stiff and clunky to operate.
The two-tone dash is neat and clean, with no extraneous or over-styled features, giving it a mature look. The top half is finished in high-quality, non-reflective black plastic. The toffee-like beige used for the lower portion of the dash again looks high quality but may not be to everyone’s liking. The gear lever has superb detailing as well with a glass finish and the gear numbers written in a clean metallic finish. All throughout the cabin, Hyundai has judiciously used faux metallic highlights in the right places and to good effect.
Move to the rear and the Grand i10 reveals its greatest strength. In terms of legroom, the extra 40mm of wheelbase has gone into making this rear bench quite spacious and you won’t feel shortchanged here. Legroom is particularly good and even tall drivers can be comfortable behind the wheel without crushing the knees of the rear passengers. The slightly reclined rear bench angle adds to the comfort level too. But while you won’t complain about the legroom, the seat squab or base isn’t that generous and you sit a touch low, which is accentuated by the high window line. Also, the fixed headrests of the front seats do obstruct visibility a fair bit and make the rear seat not as airy as Hyundai intended.
A segment first, however, is the rear air-conditioning vents but with the afternoon sun beating down during our test the cooling wasn’t as effective as we would have liked it to be.
In terms of practicality, there are plenty of storage spaces inside the cabin. You get one-litre bottle holders in each of the doors, two large cup-holders behind the gearlever, and a cubbyhole for storing your phone just below the air-con controls. The rear scooped-out parcel tray has also been designed to hold odds and ends from flying forward in the event of sudden braking.
Passengers hooked onto their smartphones and tablets will be quite pleased that this car has not one but two 12V outlets – one in the front and one mounted on the rear AC console. Like the spacious cabin, the illuminated boot, at 256 litres, is quite large and just about 10 percent shy of that of the Figo which has the largest boot in this segment.
The most significant thing about the Grand i10 is the U2 1120cc, three-cylinder engine which makes its debut in this car. This 70bhp diesel engine is also the first to be manufactured locally in Hyundai’s plant near Chennai. Although brand new, this motor is essentially the i20’s 1.4-litre engine that has sacrificed a cylinder in the interest of better fuel efficiency and better packaging.
Diesel engines and three cylinders don’t really go well together as both are inherently prone to vibration, so it comes as no surprise that the Grand i10 vibrates softly at idle and loses the smoothness found on the four-cylinder engine in the i20. But, just a small dab on the accelerator and the counter-balancing shafts do their job well and the vibrations recede quickly.
In the city, the linear power delivery coupled with relatively short gear ratios gives the Grand i10 admirable performance. In stop-start traffic, the responsive nature of this motor and reasonably light clutch make the Grand i10 quite effortless to drive.
Keep the tacho needle between 1600 to 2700rpm and this motor performs at its best. But as the needle travels into 3500rpm territory, the car rapidly loses steam and makes quite a racket too. This can be an issue on open roads where, for example, if you were to downshift from about 2500 revs to overtake, you’d plonk the engine in the gutless regions of the power band. So quick overtaking manoeuvres on a single-carriage road are quite difficult to execute cleanly. The narrow power band also means you will put the ’box through a good workout but, thankfully, the short and precise shifts ensure it doesn’t feel like butter-churning drudgery.
Although the Grand i10 is clearly designed with urban consumers in mind, cars like the Swift have raised consumer expectations of the performance potential of smaller cars. To put things in perspective, the Grand i10 takes a very leisurely 20.25 seconds to get to 100kph while the Swift dispatches the same in 13.5sec. In-gear acceleration times aren’t good news either – 40-100kph in fourth takes 17.23sec in the Hyundai while the Swift does the same in 13.91sec.
Hyundai hasn’t quite mastered the black art of ride and handling and, as a result, most of its cars are below class standards when it comes to dynamics. But again, the company has made big strides in this department as well and the Grand i10 feels better sorted than its other small siblings.
To begin with, the car maintains its composure at highway speeds well and doesn’t bob around or feel too squishy over broken tarmac; hence, it is not as nervous as the i10 or even the i20. In the city too, the Grand i10 does a decent job of doing away with potholes but the suspension feels clunky and tends to jar over sharp edges.
The Grand i10 tackles rough roads quite well and there’s sufficient ground clearance to ride over the biggest of speedbreakers but the suspension never feels settled on a bumpy road and passengers, especially those at the rear, will experience a fair amount of vertical movement.
The electrical-assisted power steering doesn’t feel ultra-light as in other Hyundais and has a bit more weight which gives the driver good confidence at high speeds. However, it weighs up in an inconsistent manner and simply doesn’t have the precision or responsiveness of the best power steering systems in the class.
In terms of stopping power, the Grand i10 has well specified brakes that are fairly strong and the ABS felt well calibrated too.
Based on ARAI tests, the diesel-engined Grand i10 claims to have an impressive fuel economy figure of 24kpl. Our tests returned 15.4kpl in city driving conditions and 19.6kpl out on the highway, which is pretty much on the same lines as its competitors.
While the city fuel efficiency figure is a handsome one, the highway figure is impressive but could have been better. The fact that the Grand i10 has relatively shorter gear ratios means the engine spins at higher speeds on the highway and this has a negative impact on fuel economy. An overall figure of 17.5kpl combined with a 43-litre fuel tank gives the Grand i10 a phenomenal range of 750 kilometres on a single tank of diesel.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) Rs 6.45lakh
Warranty 2 years / unlimited km
Installation Front, transverse
Type 3cyls, 1120cc, common-rail, diesel
Compression ratio 16.0:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cylinder DOHC
Power 70bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 16.3kgm at 1500-2750rpm
Power to weight 64.04bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 14.91 kgm per tonne
Type Front-wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Wheel base 2425mm
Chassis & Body
Construction Five-door, monocoque, hatchback
Spare Full size
Front Independent, Machpherson struts, coil springs
Rear Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric
Tank size 43 litres