Hyundai Grand i10 (2020) – One step forward, two steps back

Hyundai Grand i10 (2020) – One step forward, two steps back

The new, third-generation Hyundai Grand i10 comes at us with refreshed styling and a touch more space but the increase in size has come at a cost.

I won’t lie, motoring journalists have a rather fun time. We get to drive a myriad of different, new vehicles and manage to get seat time in some rather special car. Fast cars, exotic car, expensive cars and opulent cars. Cars that we would ordinarily not be able to afford either. This is part of the perks – very few of us will ever become rich from doing this, so we take the perks when and where we can.

I derive some of the most joy, not from the expensive or exotic, but from the cheaper cars, the smaller, entry-level stuff. You see, it’s rather tough to write about the latest BMW or Audi and to say something that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. These are cars that have been laboured over with much money plumbed into the R&D and engineering. This is then reflected in the price of the vehicle.

Budget cars aren’t afforded this luxury. They’re built to a price-point as this is one of their USPs (Unique Selling Points), so you just know that the designers and engineers had to have a careful think about how they build the cars and what they use to build these cars. Getting ridiculous with exotic composites is going to run a tab that they won’t be able to absorb.

It’s far easier to write about a cheap car than it is an expensive one. There’s more variation between market rivals. Each and every budget car is going to have a few shortcomings and you don’t have to drive it on the ragged edge of adhesion in order to deduce this. And this brings me onto the latest budget offering, this time from Hyundai in the form of the third-generation Grand i10.

Styling

The styling of the new AI3 Hyundai Grand i10 is not too radical a departure from the outgoing BA model at first glance. It retains some of the signature Hyundai styling with the large, trapezoidal grille being stretched out into a Y-shape in the new model. The reprofiled headlights are still halogen units but the boomerang-shaped DRLs, situated in the widest part of the grille are illuminated with LEDs.

The front leading edge of the nose drops off in a stylish and sporty way and the upward kink of the C-pillar is attractive. Upper-spec Fluid models receive chrome grille detailing while the cheaper Motion models make do with a black grille and steel wheels. 15-inch alloy wheels adorn the 1.2-litre Fluid models while the 1.0-litre is fitted with 14-inch alloy wheels.

The back end is inoffensive with clean, purposeful lines and a crease that runs the width of the tailgate and flows into the crystal taillamps.

Our test model featured a two-tone paint scheme with a Fiery Red and black combination. This option is only available on Fluid models and personally, I prefer the single tone arrangement.

Interior & Space

The cabin is just as pleasant. Some will recall the bright interior colours of the previous generation and while young and sporty, was something that one would tire of quickly. The latest version has toned-down on the brightwork and replaced it with a subtle grey and black two-tone design with hints of sport red around the air vents, with the stitching and with the piping on the seats.

While I like the embossed diamond design on the passenger side fo the dashboard, the large void between the redesigned gauge cluster and the infotainment screen is a little distracting.

Interior space is still impressive and with the Grand i10 now 40mm longer, 20 mm wider and with a 25 mm longer wheelbase, the interior is roomy and relatively comfortable. There are still many storage spaces in the cabin, including a tray above the glove box and below the HVAC controls where the USB power outlet is situated.

Fluid models get a 60/40 split-folding rear seat while the Motion models have a single, folding rear seat section. Boot space has also grown and you now get 360-litres of natural boot space with 910-litres when you fold the seats down.

Comfort & Convenience

While the seats are well-bolstered and nicely trimmed, the front seat in my test model appeared to have a loose mounting, the seat rocking as I depressed the clutch. I wish that this was the last of my worries, but sadly it was only compounded when I set off.

The Grand i10 is manufactured in India and as we have lamented many times in the past, the Indian market differs somewhat from ours and particularly, our driving conditions. While this is one o the more admirable Indian-built offerings, there were still a few questions about the overall build quality, most evident when one opens the bonnet.

On the road, the Grand i10 had a habit of crashing into undulations in the road. This leads me to believe that the spring and damper rates are mismatched and terribly oversprung for our roads. The tyres did a fair enough job of isolating secondary ride concerns but each and every visible dip and join in the road had me clenching my butt as I braced for what felt like impact. The previous generation suffered from this too and it was disappointing to see that, despite the other advances made, this has not been rectified.

On the convenience front, you get a few nice toys. There’s the aforementioned touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you get heated side mirrors (something that is rather redundant in Zimabwe though), manual airconditioning and rear park assist. The steering wheel is a multifunction item with controls for the audio and the driver information display.

Performance

Two engines are on offer in the Hyundai Grand i10, a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol and a 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol, neither benefitting from a turbocharger or any form of forced induction. You can expect to get a tepid 49 kW and 94 Nm from the 1.0 while the 1.2 in our test model produced, apparently, 61 kW and 114 Nm which is nothing more than adequate.

 

Hyundai managed to shave off 154 kg with the new Grand i10 (and I have questions about where they found that weight) but the 1.2-litre lump is still a little lacklustre. My biggest gripe was with the erratic power delivery that would rise and fall throughout the rev range, but not in the traditional sense. Large flat spots could clearly be felt throughout the range and would present themselves at odd junctions – it was as if a massive aircon pump was being activated, even with the airconditioning switched off.

Hyundai claims acceleration figures of 12.3-seconds from 0 to 100 km/h but they may as well have said it takes three months and a downhill. This model is nowhere near as sprightly nor engaging to drive as its predecessor. The earlier model was confidence-inspiring and fun to drive, with this one I would contemplate walking instead.

I’d like to say that that was the end of it, but the new Grand i10 has more. It has a propensity to torque steer (yes, even from the 114 Nm) and would pull to the left under acceleration. The steering feel was also all over the place. Usually, Indian-produced vehicles have terrible manners at highway speeds with on-centre steering that lacks feel. This can usually be attributed to a lack of castor on the front wheels. The AI3 model didn’t suffer from this but it now seems as if they’ve dialled-in too much castor, with the wheels collapsing at full lock and tough to steer at lower speeds.

Fuel Economy

Thankfully, much of this can be countered when one factors in the running costs of the Hyundai Grand i10. The small engine sips on fuel and even with the heavy-footed driving styled required to successfully move with traffic, the little Grand i10 returned agreeable figures of 7.0 l/100km with Hyundai claiming a combined figure of 5.9 l/100km. I’m sure that if you were in less of a rush, you could bring it down to closer to the claims, but a round 7 isn’t terrible.

Safety

Much has been said of late regarding the Indian imports and how they hold up in the event of an accident. It’s worth noting that the local Indian spec and the Zimbabwean spec differs a little and that, by and large, a Zimbabwean model should perform a little better. Nevertheless, the AI3 Hyundai Grand i10, in Indian-spec, only scored 2 stars in the Global NCAP crash test, with the structure and footwell area being rated as ‘unstable’.

You will get a driver and passenger airbag, pre-tensioner seatbelts up front and ISOFIX mountings at the outer rears. ABS with EBD is standard fare across the range.

Competitors

In this segment and price range, it’s worth also considering the new Toyota Starlet, Ford Figo and definitely the Suzuki Swift.

Verdict

The Hyundai Grand i10 presents itself as a sensible, stylish alternative to the competitors that appear mundane in comparison. The truth is that each of its rivals offers a better drive for the same money. This may suit you perfectly if you place a greater emphasis on the appearances and care less, or are not as critical, about the ride quality, but for me, I’ll probably end up in a Starlet.

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