If you happen to race the powerful Hyundai Elantra NU petrol (1999cc) against the puny Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS turbocharged petrol (998cc), it’s likely that the NIOS turbo—even with an engine half the size—will race ahead of the Elantra in 0-100 km/h acceleration (and still return better fuel efficiency). Agreed, the NIOS turbo is almost 300 kg lighter, but what works magic here is the engine. The GDi engine (short for gasoline direct injection) in the NIOS turbo is fitted with a device called the ‘turbocharger’, which sucks in hot exhaust gas from the engine to spin a turbine that compresses air, and that compressed air is forced back into the cylinder, leading to more efficient combustion of the air-fuel mixture.
The result is the engine produces more power, even as it consumes lesser fuel. (A turbocharger only works when the engine has reached a defined RPM, and that is reason in the initial second or two the acceleration feels lethargic, called the ‘turbo lag’ in common parlance.) Hyundai India offers a range of turbocharged petrol models—it currently has two engine options in 13 variants in five car models (Grand i10 NIOS, Aura, Verna, Creta and Venue).
Alas, the NIOS turbo doesn’t look vastly different from the NIOS ‘regular’, save for the ‘turbo’ badging at the front and rear, roof rails and bigger tyres. A person spending at least a lakh rupee extra for more power would want to show it off, too! The cabin, similarly, has minimal differentiation—red highlights on air vents and red stitching on seats on a black/grey background give the cabin a sporty feel.
This engine produces 100PS power and 175Nm torque, and the certified fuel efficiency is 20.3 km/litre. While the NIOS turbo is quick—it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in less than 10 seconds—its steering appears way too light, i.e. there can be instances (like when changing lane at a high speed or taking sharp turns) when you momentarily feel that there is no steering feedback. Other than that, in regular driving conditions, it offers you a spirited driving experience. On the highway, driven at a constant speed of about 80 km/h, my test car returned fuel efficiency of more than 20 km/litre.
The NIOS turbo is available in two variants: Sportz priced Rs 7.68 lakh and Sportz dual tone for Rs 7.73 lakh (ex-showroom). That makes it about Rs 1 lakh more expensive than the NIOS regular. What you get is an everyday drive that is a lot more enjoyable, a lot more spirited. What you don’t is a design that is able to reflect its sporty performance. What goes fast should look fast, too.
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