2018 Hyundai Santro Test Drive Review - Value For Money Compact Family Hatchback
Can the new Hyundai Santro reignite the same magic as the older hatchback? We find how good is the 2018 Hyundai Santro in our test drive review.
2018 Hyundai Santro. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
Back in 1998, Santro hatchback helped Hyundai Motors establish a brand name for themselves, making them the 2nd largest car manufacturer in India among manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Hindustan Motors. So it was obvious that when Hyundai decided to re-launch a family compact car, the Santro name was the first choice for them. But 20 years down the line, buying preferences of the Indian consumers have changed, and the competition has evolved too. We were in Bhubaneswar to find whether or not the new Santro will reignite the same magic as the previous Santro. Here’s our Test Drive Review of the newly launched 2018 Hyundai Santro compact family hatchback-
What We Like
Segment 1st features like 7” Touchscreen System and Rear AC Vents
Smart AMT Transmission
Factory Fitted CNG Kit with 30.5 kmp Mileage
What We Don’t Like
Average Exterior Design
Oddly Placed Power Window Buttons
Low Braking Confidence at High Speeds
There are very few cars in India that have a brand recall and the Hyundia Santro is one such car. Launched back in 1998, Hyundai Santro quickly went onto become one of the largest selling compact hatchback in India. After closing the production in 2014, Hyundai has now revived the car, with a completely new design. However, there are some mixed feelings as far as the design of the new Santro is concerned. A lot of the design cues are borrowed from the i10 and it feels more like an updated i10. Grand i10 has also been the source of inspiration for the new Santro. Now that’s not a bad point at all, but with the new Santro, we were expecting some new design language.
That said, the new Santro looks good for its segment and has a stylish design. It is also wider and longer than the previous Santro. The height has also been reduced to give it a more balanced look. A few highlights in the Santro will be the positioning of the fog lamps that have been elevated just below the headlights to reduce the damage, boomerang styled lines on the body, and the distinctive tail gate design. The rest of the car is simple, modern, but not something we expected.
Which brings us to the cabin of the new Santro, which is more innovative and premium. Hyundai has added a dual tone shade to the cabin and the overall quality feels much higher than what the rivals offer. The dashboard has an elephant inspired design as per Hyundai and if you look closely, it indeed looks like Lord Ganesha.
Hyundai has nicely integrated champagne gold inserts in the dashboard and there are many first-in- segment features like the 7-inch touchscreen info system. The 7-inch touchscreen system comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, again 1st in the segment and feels nice and easy to operate. Other 1st in segment features include a propeller design outer AC vent, color coded dashboard inserts and rear AC vent. The instrument cluster with digital display reads out most of the information and looks good.
Practicality wise, Hyundai has thoughtfully added a lot of pockets to keep your stuff in. There is ample space to fit 4 full grown adults with ease with generous legroom and headroom. Exceeding anything above can be problematic. The boot space stands at 235-litre is not enough to house your big airport bag, but is deep enough to stack a couple of bags. The seats are nice and comfortable with good under thigh support.
Now coming to the biggest negative inside the cabin – the power window buttons. Why on Earth Hyundai placed the window buttons near the gear lever? It might be easy for family purposes, but it’s an outdated concept and the driver faces a lot of problems while operating buttons. That said, the rest of the cabin is the best in its class.
The new Santro will be offered with the 1.1-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine with a claimed mileage of 20.3 kmpl. There’s an also a CNG variant with 30.5 kmpl. The highlight is the Smart AMT gearbox. The 1.1-litre tried and tested petrol unit of Hyundai produces 68 bhp and 99 Nm of torque. For a car this light the engine is ample to cruise comfortablly around the city limits. However, on highways, it takes a bit of stress while going upwards of 100 kmph. The engine is mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox and Hyundai’s in house developed AMT gearbox.
Talking about the manual 1st, the gearbox is smooth to operate and feels light while shifting gears. We drove the car for more than 150 km and at no point we felt tired of changing gears, even though we faced some serious bumper to bumper traffic. This is where an AMT gearbox comes in and it’s good that Hyundai has added an in house AMT to the biggest launch for them, as the gearbox hardly feels like an AMT and behaves a proper automatic. Surely there are some jerks, but they are largely contained to high speeds. For city driving, this AMT is the closest replica of an AT gearbox.
The steering is nimble and most suited for city driving. The NVH levels are minimal and are only felt when pushing the car too hard. However, the highlight of this car is the supreme ride quality it offers, thanks to the K1 platform. As soon as the car starts rolling, you will observe how good it feels to sit inside the cabin and how easily it eats most of the crevices and bumps. Hyundai is also offering ABS with EBD as standard in the new Santro alongwith driver side airbag.
The top spec model gets dual airbags. That said, the brakes were a sore point at high speed driving. While they operated perfectly fine in the city, at high speed, we felt like losing the control of the hatch after hitting the brakes. Overall, Hyundai has done complete justice to the new Santro and filled a large void in the compact hatchback segment in India.
The new Hyundai Santro has almost everything that you can expect from a compact budget hatchback, right from the new-age features to modern cabin and balanced design. At Rs 3.89 Lakh, it is also one of the most value for money offering in the country today. But above everything else, it has the Santro brand name that will resonate with the buyers.
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