Evolution has taught us that living forms get sleeker and often smaller with time since they shed whatever isn’t required. But with the passenger cars, it is the opposite – as succeeding models tend to get larger than their outgoing counterparts. It is a similar case with the successor of the Hyundai i10 as well. It is lengthier, wider and shorter; and has a longer list of features as well. Because it is bigger and better than the i10 in all respects, Hyundai is calling it the ‘Grand i10’.
For this grand approach, Hyundai has picked up design bits from its entire range of hatchbacks and have fused them together in the form of the Grand i10. Therefore you have headlamps and a side character line that seem inspired by the Eon; the glasshouse and the B- and C-pillars that resemble those of the current i10; and a chassis that has the stance of the i20.
There is, of course, the trademark hexagonal air-dam and the single-slat grille. But what attracts the eye is the set of chunky fog lamps and the angular sculpting on the front bumper. The side profile has a rather clean layout – especially compared to the overdone fluidic styling on the Eon. The rub rails look good but are standard only on the top end trim. On the lower spec variants the outlining crease meant for the rub-rails will look out of place – just the way it does on the Eon.
The tailgate has a fresh design. The taillights look funky and their design is completely new to the Hyundai line-up. But even at the back, it’s the bottom end of the car that attracts attention. The big reflectors on the rear bumper look gaudy in the first glance, but gel well with the sporty and youthful stance of this car.
As I mentioned earlier, the Grand i10 fuses design bits from various Hyundai hatchbacks. But that said, the designers have done a good job of making sure that the Grand i10 has a unique visual appeal. I like the fact that they haven’t gone overboard with the lines and creases that define the fluidic design philosophy.
But what I like more is that it doesn’t look too tall-boyish anymore. It’s design reminds me of the Hyundai Getz – no-nonsense style and a youthful stance – and that is a good!
User Experience Review
Japanese or Korean cars generally give you that metallic ‘clunk’ when you close the door – and that sounds flimsy. The often solidly built European cars give you a nice, reassuring ‘thud’ instead. Interestingly, the Grand i10 gives you the same too. The quality of the plastics, switches and knobs also feels top notch. Compared to the current i10, the fascia of the dashboard looks much cleaner as well and the with more black than beige the colour combination doesn’t look gaudy either.
The audio head unit on the older i10 looked like the interface of a washing machine. The new one with the two round a/c vents on either side, looks like a portable boom-box. Speaking of the audio system though, this unit is compatible with auxiliary and USB inputs. But the novel feature is the integration of a 1 GB hard drive that lets you store your favorite music within the system itself.
Moving to the ergonomics, I have always been a fan of the way the i10 places its gear shifter. Being very close the centre console, it is not only easy to reach but also frees up space for knick-knacks. The three-spoke steering wheel is adjustable for rake and features a wise layout for the switches. Commonly used audio controls are placed within easy reach of the thumb, while the sparingly used controls for the trip computer get their switches on the lower part of the third spoke.
The front seats, in trademark i10 fashion, get integrated head rests. Their design looks a tad awkward, but it enables better shoulder support. The seats are adjustable for reach and recline, while the driver’s seat gets height-adjustment as well. The black and beige upholstery gels well with the design of the plastics, but is prone to get soiled very easily.
With the driver’s seat set to my preference, the rear bench offered surprisingly good knee room. Though the Grand i10 is shorter than the current i10, the headroom is very good too. The high window line, like the i10, could make your kids feel claustrophobic.
Fortunately though, it isn’t as high as the one seen on the European counterpart of the Grand i10 though. The seats feel comfortable enough for a long weekend drive too and the rear vents for the air-conditioning will come in handy.
As is the case with any Hyundai car, the Grand i10 too is brimming with features. But where this car really impresses more is the bigger cabin, the improved build quality and cleaner design.
The Grand i10 is being offered in a choice of two engines – a 1.2-litre Kappa2 petrol that comes from the current i10 but makes slightly more power and torque; and a new 1.1-litre U2 3-cylinder diesel motor. Since this is the all new engine, we got behind the wheel of the Grand i10 CRDi for the test.
Like the Micra, the Grand i10 also gets a keyless entry-&-go on the top end trim. Therefore you have a push-button starter that turns on the ignition. Once you crank up the engine, the 3-cylinder characteristics of the mill are evident. It emits an awkward burble and has quite a few vibrations that filter onto the pedals. But get the car rolling and the noise, harshness and vibration levels drop significantly. In fact, the engine is noisy on the outside, but hardly any noise is heard on the inside when the car is in motion. Insulation against wind noise is well engineered too. The tyres do emit noise over 120 km/h but it isn't fatiguing.
The 1.1-litre Diesel engine puts out 71 PS of power and 160 Nm of torque. Frankly, those figures sound puny when you compare it to the segment stalwarts like the Swift and the Figo. But it is the drivability that is impressive. Off the mark, the Grand i10 has a fair amount of turbo-lag which is evident until you hit 1,500 RPM. But once the turbo kicks in, it provides the entire 160 Nm of torque between 1,500 to 2,750 RPM in the form of a flat torque curve.
Cutting the jargon out, what it means is that you get the entire pulling power of the engine in the most drivable rev-range. So the car feels a tad underpowered while driving in city traffic, but that also means it isn't too jerky. Out on the highway the strong midrange gives you enough power on tap to pull off overtakes without having to frequently drop a gear. The engine feels relaxed in both the environments and you never have to rev it's guts out. Above 120 km/h though, the engine starts highlighting its capacity deficit – but treat it like a city slicker and obey the highway speed limits and you'll have no complaints. Hyundai claims that the Grand i10 CRDi is capable of returning a fuel economy of 24 kmpl. On our drive we were getting a fuel efficiency in the range of 15-16 kmpl – but we would like to wait for a complete road test to give you concrete real-world figures.
Speaking of gears, the shifter in typical i10 fashion, is easy to reach. The Grand's shifter is smooth to operate across the gears – and though most of us will love it, I do miss the slightly restrained nature of the cable-type shift mechanism of the current i10. The shifter is complemented with a light clutch. Combine that with the light steering wheel and you have a convenient and comfortable city commuter. For the highway though, I would have preferred a dead pedal as well.
Moving to the driving dynamics, Hyundai cars are looked upon by enthusiasts as bouncy vehicles with awfully light and dead steering systems. Often ugly looking too. But now that the 'fluidic sculpture' design language has taken care of the latter, Hyundai engineers are said to be concentrating on improving the over all driving dynamics of their cars. The first taste of the efforts come with the Grand i10.
The new electronic power-steering system (EPS) is still quite light – even at highway speeds – but has better feedback than the likes of the current i10, Verna or the Elantra. It still doesn't feel as sorted as a Figo or a Swift. Like any other Hyundai, the suspension setup provides a very comfortable ride quality. But interestingly, the suspension tuning seems more 'European' than 'Korean/Japanese'. It isn't as bouncy as any other Hyundai while at the same time it absorbs the undulations with surprising ease.
The handling dynamics have significantly improved over the i10, but again, not as sorted as a Swift or a Figo. But the relatively soft setup, the light clutch & steering and good stability at highway speeds is sure to impress most Indian drivers. The 165-55/14 section tyres on the test car had a good level of grip which aids handling as well as braking performance.
The overall performance of the Grand i10 CRDi is quite impressive. It's frugal, has an amazing ride quality, a quite cabin for a diesel heart and the improved handling over its siblings is a significant step in the right direction.
With the kind of package that the Grand i10 is, it fits in perfectly between the i10 and the i20. While the pricing of the diesel variant seems pricy at once – especially given the lack of visual bulk over the competition – the tag is justified once you experience the roominess of the cabin and the performance of the mechanicals. The features, as is the case with any Hyundai, are class leading. So I reckon that the Maruti Suzuki Swift, the Ford Figo and the Toyota Etios Liva need to get ready to lose a chunk of their respective pies!