Packs a punch

Packs a punch

Hyundai has launched the new Santro in India. Built on the K1 platform, which is also common to the i10, the new car marks a significant change over the model it replaces, in terms of rigidity and build quality. With prices starting from Rs 3.9 lakh for the base, non-AC D-lite and the AC fitted entry-level Era at Rs 4.25 lakh, to the CNG version that costs between Rs 5.24 lakh and Rs 5.65 lakh, the new Santro does share some similarities with the i10. 

With the AMT Sports variant and the top-spec Asta variant priced at Rs 5.47 lakh and Rs 5.46 lakh, respectively, the new car combines the tall boy design strategy of the earlier model with the more conventional hatchback design strategy of the bigger hatchbacks like the i20. A large grille with chrome ring surround dominates the front; it presents the car with a bold and distinct appearance. The swept back head lamps are placed on the upper plane, and contribute towards the design nicely masking the increase in overall dimensions when compared to those of the earlier model. Flaunting ‘boomerang’-inspired creases around front and rear wheel-arches, the new car offers an amount of excitement with a slight dip in window-line. If it makes for an interesting design element, the new Santro comes with two-tone mirrors. Riding on 14-inch dia steel wheels, and 165/70 R14 tyres, the car, at the rear, gets a large windscreen. The tail lamps aren’t too big or expressive. The rear bumper, like the front, has a big black strip spread across.

Inside, the new Santro feels more spacious. Providing an impression of being well-finished, the interior is done in black and beige. Apart from a black top half and a beige lower half, the dash has champagne gold highlights. If the ridge makes for an interesting touch in terms of form and function, the propeller-shaped AC vents look cool. The unusual position of the power window switches near the gear lever may take some time getting used to. But the vehicle is equipped with good amount of storage spaces and bottle holders. If the tall-boy design strategy makes it easy to enter and exit, the large front windscreen ensures high visibility. The ample glass area makes for an airy feel. The front seats with fixed headrests offer good comfort. There’s good amount of room at the front too. The amount of room at the rear is impressive for a car of its size. The increase in dimensions is most visible here. There’s good amount of knee and head room. However, the AC vents for the rear passengers rob the middle passenger of some space. The storage space at the rear is a good 235-litres. Not class leading, but not the least in its segment either, the new Santro is equipped with features like ABS, EBD and driver airbag. Depending on the spec-level, it can come with dual airbags, speed sensing auto door lock, multi-function steering wheel, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), rear camera and parking sensors.

The lower-spec models of the new Santro get a small multi-information display that provides basic info regarding time, trip, range and average fuel economy. The 69PS 1.1-litres petrol engine feels refined and also quite responsive; it is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that is engineered to support precise shifts. The clutch is light, and makes for an easy drive in the city. The availability of good amount of power at low and medium revs has the car keeping up with traffic with ease. On the highway, the car quickly gathers speed to attain a good cruising attitude. What surprises is the car’s ability to provide good performance even in the AMT form. The shifts take place seamlessly, sans any tossing or nodding. Claimed to offer a fuel efficiency of 20.3kmpl, the new car comes with a light steering that helps to reverse into a tight parking slot or manoeuvre in a narrow lane. On the highway, steering feels like it could with more feedback. An electric unit, power steering unit contributes to the good ride and handling dynamics. 

The ride is plush and the suspension soaks up surface irregularities with ease. The new car feels grown up in the way it rides and displays stability. Showing no tendency to bounce or display vertical movements, especially at the rear, the new Santro displays good stability on a winding road as much as it does on a highway. Pushed into corners, it does a good job of tackling them. It is during these instances that the higher rigidity of the new platform is experienced. With a good presence in the small car segments, may it be the Won, the i10 or the i20, Hyundai has rightly ushered the new Santro into the marketplace. Building on the success of the earlier model, the new model offers better comfort, refinement and quality.

Pros: Quality, comfort, refinement, AMT
Cons: Steering could do with more feel

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