Driving in a fresh onslaught for the mid-compact hatchback segment, Hyundai Motor India has launched the new Santro, a brand reminiscent of its accomplishments in the sub-continent. The Santro has been an icon of sorts in India and played a crucial role in kicking-off the Korean brand’s journey in the country over 20 years ago. Auto Tech Review was in Orissa’s state capital, Bhubaneswar to piece together a review of the all-new Santro. Here is what we made of the latest offering from the stables of Hyundai.
A lot has changed in the new Santro from the previous generation model. The hatchback now offers a contemporary design, segment-leading features and a brand new platform. Hyundai has poured in around Rs 700 cr developing this new model that has been extensively tested across multiple terrains. While still sporting the tall boy stance, Hyundai has given the all-new Santro fresh looks with a keen focus on ergonomics, space, comfort and convenience.
At the heart is a 1.1 l, four-cylinder petrol engine, with an option of a bi-fuel version that comes with a factory-fitted CNG kit. Another admirable addition is the option of an AMT transmission for city driving convenience. The AMT has been developed in-house by Hyundai and features electronic motor actuation for a quicker shift response. Hyundai is offering the new Santro in five different variants with prices starting from Rs 3.89 lakh going up all the way to Rs 5.45 lakh for the manual variants.
EXTERIOR DESIGN & DIMENSIONS
Hyundai has introduced a fairly contemporary design on the new Santro. Spotting a vacant space left by the discontinuation of the i10, Hyundai reintroduced the Santro, positioned above the Eon in a bid to shed its entry level hatchback status. The design language is fairly simple; it features a large cascading grille in the front surrounded by a chrome garnish. The headlamps are sharp, but reminiscent of the old i10 from certain angles. Hyundai has also added large fog lamps that give the front fascia a bold and butch look.
Moving over to the side, the unique character lines define a fairly new language from Hyundai. The front and rear portions feature boomerang shaped curves that accentuate a modish look. A kink in the rear window gives the Santro large window panes in the rear. Well pronounced wheel arches and 14 inch rims also complement the overall design scheme. The new Santro’s rear section also sports an easy-to-like style. The tail lamps are smaller and round up an edgy look in the rear. Hyundai has also added a few plastic bits on the bumper with sharp looking reflectors.
The all-new Hyundai Santro is longer and wider than the previous generation model. It measures 3,610 mm in length and 1,645 mm in width. However, the new Santro is not as tall as the previous model with height measured in at 1,560 mm. The wheelbase on the new Santro stands at 2,400 mm and provides a fairly spacious cabin both in the front as well at the rear.
INTERIOR DESIGN, SPACE & FEATURES
The cabin of the new Santro has a familiar design and is strikingly similar to other Hyundai models, with a few distinct design elements. Unlike the previous version of the car, the new Santro looks a lot more upmarket on the inside. The quality of plastics and materials is quite good, even better than some contending cars. Hyundai is offering the new Santro with a dual tone beige and black scheme, a new Diana Green colour variant that comes with an all-black interior with green accents and stitching on the inside.
Seats in the new Santro are reasonably comfortable. The longer and wider dimensions have catered to an increase in space inside the cabin. Shoulder room and headroom are optimal for the average Indian commuter. Rear seat comfort is also admirable, with improved leg room and shoulder room. Despite being shorter than the previous model, the new Santro has a decent amount of headroom. The rear bench is flat and can seat two adults comfortably. Seating comfort in the rear is also good, with the seat squabs adding more comfort.
Hyundai has packed the new Santro with loads of features; these definitely set it apart from the competition, offering more value to the buyer. The top spec Asta variant of the new Santro gets features such as rear parking sensors and a parking camera, a 17.64 cm infotainment unit with smartphone connectivity through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The interior design also features a gold finish on the accents surrounding the steering, AC vents, gear and infotainment console. It adds a posh touch to the overall appeal of the Santro.
Other features include steering mounted controls, rear AC vents, keyless entry, voice recognition, Bluetooth telephony, 12 V power sockets, USB and AUX connectivity. Hyundai has centrally mounted power window switches for ease of access. The new Santro also features electronically adjustable ORVMs and Day/Night inside rear view mirror.
PERFORMANCE & SAFETY
Powering the new Hyundai Santro is a 1.1 l, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 68 hp at 5,500 rpm and 99 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. The engine is a high revving one, with the redline coming in a little over 6,000 rpm. Peak power lies towards the higher side of the band, but that does not stop the Santro from picking up pace from the word go. Hyundai is also offering a factory-fitted CNG kit, which offers consumers 58 hp of power and 84 Nm of peak torque.
Hyundai has also introduced a brand new AMT unit on the new Santro that has been developed in house by the company. The AMT option comes with an electronic motor driven gear and clutch actuator as opposed to the hydraulic actuator technology found on competitor products. The result is a quicker and much smoother response in gear shifts. The whole operation is controlled by a separate control unit. At part throttle, in city traffic, we found out the shift shock to be nearly negligible. At full throttle, the gears shifted quickly and the transmission held gears right up to the redline. The manual transmission performed well as well. The clutch is light and the gear operation is fairly smooth.
The suspension set-up on the new Santro features a McPherson Strut in the front and a Torsion beam in the rear. The set-up is mildly stiff, and it goes through potholes and breakers with ease. At high speeds, the new Santro feels stable and has demonstrated good balance. The electronic power steering features a torque assist technology that has improved the returnability of the steering. While making a sharp u-turn or cornering, the steering comes back to dead centre with a fair amount of ease. The steering performance at low and high speeds was quite good.
The new Santro’s braking is facilitated by a disc and drum set-up. Hyundai has offered ABS with EBD as standard on the new Santro. Braking is progressive and the set-up gets the job done remarkably well. On the safety front, Hyundai is also offering driver airbags as standard across all variants. The top spec Asta variant is also being offered with a passenger airbag. The new Santro also features a rear defogger and wiper washer.
Hyundai has given a lot of thought on the overall package offered on the Santro. The new Korean hatch is offering much more than its competitors on multiple fronts and is poised to take on the market rather well. Considering the package and value for money, the new Santro may just pan out to be a blockbuster product for Hyundai. The only niggles we found were with the lack of an adjustable steering column and seat height adjustment option.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay