Hyundai’s Grand i10-based compact sedan has always been a fairly well-built and feature-packed offering. The Xcent, however, didn’t set sales charts on fire as Hyundais normally do. Its 1.1-litre, three-cylinder diesel was a bit low on power, the ride was nothing to write home about, and the cabin was quite narrow too.
However, with this facelift, Hyundai seems to have addressed the compact sedan’s weaknesses and has gone one step further too. To start with, when viewed from the front, the Xcent facelift looks quite different from the Grand i10.
The major tweaks include an all-new grille, a new bumper which gets air inlets that improve the car’s aerodynamic efficiency, and LEDs surrounding the fog lamps.
There aren’t too many changes to the car’s side profile, apart from the new and larger wheels, but like the front end, the rear has also been thoroughly updated. The new horizontal tail-lights make the rear look almost Audi-like, plus, a wider rear bumper makes the car look more muscular. Boot space, however, remains the same at an impressive 407 litres.
Step into the cabin and the first change that you’ll notice here is the 7.0-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system packs in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other useful apps, and is quite slick to use. What’s also evident is the huge step up in quality, compared to the other cars in this class. The fit and finish of the dash and steering wheel, and functionality of all the switches, all point to a very high level of sophistication. Even the gear lever, with all its chrome, leather and Plexiglas embellishments, is a complete joy to hold.
The cabin still isn’t too wide and sitting three in the back will be tight. However, the back seat is placed at a good height, it offers good comfort, and there’s a fair amount of legroom and an air-con vent at the rear too.
The updated car is also much better to drive, and that’s thanks to the bigger, stronger diesel engine. It is now a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder motor that makes 75hp (against the older 1.1-litre unit’s 72hp). The engine feels a bit thrummy at idle, you can feel some amount of vibrations from the gear lever and even from the pedals too. It’s not as smooth as a petrol three-cylinder for sure, but insulation seems to be better than on the earlier car.
Put your foot down on the accelerator and the engine spools extremely quickly, and it feels quite peppy past 2,000rpm. As a result, the best way to drive this car is to use the accurate gearbox and keep the motor spinning above 2,000rpm. Driven in this manner, performance is quite effortless, and is a huge improvement over the earlier car. Even outright acceleration is much better. The 0-100 dash, for example, now only takes 15.58 seconds as against the earlier car’s 18.61 seconds, and it’s also a couple of seconds quicker for regular driving.
Hyundai has also improved the ride quality. The car absorbs patches quite well, and there’s good amount of sound insulation to keep ambient noises out of the cabin; you hardly ever hear the wheels thumping over rough ground. Even the steering and handling are nicer. The former is now lighter to use, smoother in operation and more accurate. Also, there’s impressive amount of grip on offer, which makes the car quite fun to drive.
All in all, the cosmetic updates, improved engine and improved driving manners mean that the facelifted Xcent is a big improvement over the older car. It is nicer to drive, quite comfy to sit in, and packs in more equipment. So yes, if you are looking to buy yourself a compact sedan, make sure you take a long hard look at this one.
(In arrangement with Autocar India)