As far as product launches are concerned, Hyundai India is on a roll—in less than a year, it has launched four models: the new Santro, the Venue, the Kona EV and now the Grand i10 NIOS. The latter is the third-generation model of the Grand i10, and is Hyundai’s attempt to make a car that trumps the best-selling hatchback in the country, the Maruti Suzuki Swift. Is it that good? We drive it near Udaipur.
What is the NIOS in Grand i10?
The word ‘NIOS’ in Irish means ‘more’. So the Grand i10 NIOS has more features, more style, more space and, thus, is priced ‘more’ than the Grand i10. Both these cars will co-exist in the Indian market.
What defines its design?
It’s definitely a good-looking car, and artfully wears Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design. It’s got a large Verna-like grille, projector headlamps, chrome-surrounded fog lamps, and those arrive-in-style boomerang-shaped LED DRLs. From the sides, it looks ‘fluidic’ with integrated roof rails and shark-fin-type antenna, and at the rear the skid plate is SUVesque. What especially stand out are the diamond-cut alloy wheels and the ‘G-i10’ branding on the C-pillar.
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How is the cabin?
One, the Grand i10 NIOS has the brightest cabin in its class, and has the best outside visibility from the cabin—thanks to a narrow A-pillar, large tailgate glass and big ORVMs. Two, the rear seating area is very comfortable—the seat offers good thigh support and has enough space for three large adults. The front seats, too, provide good back and thigh support.
Three, the dashboard is all-new; the placement of the central touchscreen is similar to what you find in Kia Seltos. The loop-type inside door handles, convex-shaped headrests, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt steering, glossy black centre fascia make the cabin premium. Four, there is enough and more storage space, including parcel tray, smartphone tray, cup-holders, one-litre bottle holders, etc.
Which engines power it?
The petrol is the 1.2-litre BS6 engine (it’s the first BS6-compliant car by Hyundai). It develops 82bhp power and its claimed fuel-efficiency is 20.7kpl (manual) and 20.5kpl (AMT). The diesel is the 1.2-litre U2 engine; it develops 74bhp power and has a fuel-efficiency of 26.2kpl for both manual and AMT.
How does it drive?
We drove the petrol variant. The cabin is quiet, and the visibility from the driver’s seat is probably the best in its class. In the manual, the clutch is too light and doesn’t offer enough feedback. But the good thing is that the steering feedback—the mechanical signals that the front tyres send to the steering wheel—is accurate, and you feel every bump and dip in the road through the steering wheel. This leads to safer driving. The AMT variant of the Grand i10 NIOS changes gears without the jerk usually associated with AMT gearboxes. For city driving, the Grand i10 NIOS AMT petrol could be the best small car in India.
However, as you hit the highway, you will realise that the petrol engine is still not in the same league as that of the Swift, which is far more responsive and has a better roll-on acceleration. Hyundai diesel engines are excellent—both in terms of mileage and performance—and the Grand i10 NIOS diesel is no different.
Does it get any smart features?
It is the first car in its class to offer wireless phone charging—yes, the same technology that was earlier available only in luxury cars. Then there is a 20.25-cm touchscreen infotainment system, and connectivity features including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, voice recognition and Hyundai i-Blue smartphone app support. The speaker system is by Arkamys.
Is it the best compact car in India?
The Grand i10 NIOS is a brave attempt by Hyundai to trump the Swift, and it succeeds in some areas. For example, its ride and handling appears better, its AMT gearbox is less jerky, its steering inputs are accurate, it has more cabin space, and definitely a far more comfortable rear seat. But the petrol model still doesn’t have that oomph of the Swift’s petrol.
As far as value is concerned, the Grand i10 NIOS offers you a few more things here and a few more things there, like automatic AC, more space to move your arms, a premium cabin, wireless charging, USB charger, driver rear-view monitor, rear AC vents … the list is long. And then there are eight colour shades to choose from. Prices for petrol manual variant start at Rs 4.99 lakh, for petrol AMT at Rs 6.37 lakh, for diesel manual at Rs 6.7 lakh, and for diesel AMT at Rs 7.85 lakh (ex-showroom).
(For this review we drove the top-end Sportz and Asta models, and so some features described here won’t be
available in all variants.)