The Santro was not just a tallboy design; it had a tall stature. Is the new Santro as path-breaking a product ?
South Korea made the Santro; India embraced it. During its production run from 1998 to 2014, as many as 18.6 lakh units were sold globally, of which 13.2 lakh were sold in India. The work on the new Santro started in early 2015, and last week the car was launched. How different, or similar, is it compared to the previous generation? We drive it near Bhubaneswar.
Less quirky, more cute
The design of the new Santro is not as radical as that of the previous generation. The design is more fluidic, more modern, more Hyundai. The front grille is perhaps the widest in its segment—from extreme left to extreme right, making the car look bigger than it is. The fog-lamps are located higher up, so that they don’t get damaged by hitting raised objects on the ground. All cars in this segment have a clean body side—the Santro gets design lines shaped like a boomerang, giving it a sculpted look. The rear design is flat. Top variants get a micro antenna that looks cute.
Less buttons, more functions
The dual-tone dashboard is inspired by the face of an elephant, and there is a platform on it to stick, say, idols (though a dashboard should be kept clean, without any distractions). Almost all buttons to control car functions are located above and below the gear lever—even power window buttons, which takes some getting used to. The elegant three-pointed-star shaped AC vents remind you of the logo of a Germany luxury car brand. The cabin is very spacious, especially headroom, and there are rear AC vents. Seats are well-bolstered, with good thigh support. The boot space is 235 litres.
Less drama, more tech
The top-end variants get a lot of technology features, including a 17.64-cm touchscreen audio-video system, smartphone connectivity (Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink), voice recognition function, rear-parking camera display—most of these features are not available in other cars in its segment.
Less wagon, more car
It gets the 1.1-litre (1,086cc), four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 68bhp of power. It’s mated to a choice of two gearboxes: manual and AMT (first time in a Hyundai vehicle), and both have a claimed mileage of 20.3kpl. There is also an option of a factory-fitted CNG (58bhp; 30.48km/kg). There’s no diesel engine option—it never was in the Santro.
The engine is peppy for its size and the cabin is perhaps the quietest in its segment. Gear-shifts are butter-smooth and steering wheel is responsive. AMT in the Santro works like any other AMT box; it has the usual lag while shifting gears, but has a ‘creep’ function that works well in urban, stop-and-go traffic. If you primarily drive on the highways, stick to manual. For the driver, the things that make the Santro better than its competitors are its high seating position, easy ingress and egress, good all-round visibility, and a spacious and airy cabin feel.
Safety features include ABS with EBD (standard), dual front airbags (optional) and driver-side airbag (standard), speed-sensing auto door lock and impact-sensing auto door unlock, rear-parking sensors, and more.
Less Santro, more Hyundai
Twenty years ago, Hyundai chose the name Santro—taken from Saint-Tropez, the French city famous for fashion—because the company wanted to project it as a ‘fashionable’ new car. Today, the car can justify its name much more than the previous generation did, and it neatly sits in the Hyundai design portfolio. Prices for manual start from Rs 3.89 lakh to Rs 5.45 lakh, the AMT ranges from Rs 5.18 lakh to Rs 5.46 lakh, and the CNG variants will cost you from Rs 5.23 lakh to Rs 5.64 lakh.
(While Santro ex-showroom prices start at Rs 3.89 lakh, for this review we drove the top-end variant; many of the features described be long to a car that costs more than Rs 5 lakh.)