Hyundai’s Grand i10 hatchback with restrained styling and impressive performance will make its global debut in India. Hormazd Sorabjee has the details

The Indian car market is today a congested space. There’re numerous offerings from multiple players in every single segment, all embroiled in intense competition for a larger slice of the market. In this scenario, Korean company Hyundai has introduced the Grand i10 hatchback in what it considers a tiny gap in its model line-up, between the i10 and i20.

The Grand i10, set to make its global debut here, is essentially a stretched version of the next-generation i10, which will be launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September. It’s built on the manufacturer’s BA platform and has a wheelbase that is 100mm longer than the next-gen i10. Hyundai won’t offer the Grand i10 for European markets, which will instead get the smaller version of the new i10 that will replace the current model. In India, the Hyundai Grand i10 will co-exist with the current i10, which Hyundai is loathe to phase out as it still sells a cool 7,000 units a month. Besides, the Grand i10 is a completely different car with little in common with its predecessor.

Revealed for the first time to a small and select media gathering in Hyderabad, the first impression of the Hyundai Grand i10 is that of a mature hatchback with noticeably restrained styling (by Hyundai standards). Of course, you can’t miss the Hyundai styling cues like the hexagonal grille and the slot-like one above it, as well as the well-formed headlights. However, the Grand i10 is less ‘fluidic’ than the i20 . In fact, the Grand i10’s character lines are more subtle and less pronounced to give this new hatchback a slightly understated look to suit the conservative tastes of budget car buyers.

 Also, the window line of the Grand i10 isn’t as sharply raked as the European i10 and the doors are longer too, which makes getting in and out easy for large Indian families. From the rear, the Grand i10 has more than a passing resemblance to the i20 without the pronounced creases. The highlight really is the wraparound tail-lamps, which extend deep into the shoulder line to give a nice stylistic touch. 

 What Hyundai has got spot on are the overall proportions of the Grand i10. The gently sloping roof, the extra 100mm in the wheelbase and the 14-inch diamond cut alloys all add up to give the Hyundai Grand i10 a nice stance. 

Hyundai’s strategy is to offer best-in-class features on all its models and the new Grand i10 is no exception to the rule. It will come in four trim levels — Magna, Sports, Asta and Asta (O) — and will have a host of features that are segment firsts. This includes a cooled glove box, auto folding mirrors (which have turn indicators integrated) and a rear air-con vent. The top-spec trim will also get steering-mounted audio controls. The two-tone dashboard is well made by class standards with decent plastics, chunky controls on the dashboard, and an instrument cluster that houses incredibly clear and legible dials that look brilliant when lit. Storage space is again very generous. Apart from a large boot, the Grand i10’s cabin has lots of cubby holes and large door pockets that can comfortably hold one-litre bottles. Even the solid rear parcel shelf has recesses to hold stuff. 

 The front seats are nicely bolstered and in fact, have a sporty feel to them. The rear seats have impressive legroom but the seat is a little too low and this makes the window line feel quite high from the inside. Under-thigh support is good and it’s quite comfortable to sit three at the rear, but not over long distances.

Under the hood of the Hyundai Grand i10 is an all-new, 1.1-litre, three-cylinder U2 VGT diesel motor which develops an estimated 70bhp (the power and torque figures have not been disclosed yet). This new three-cylinder U2 engine is essentially the 1.4 four-cylinder unit with a cylinder less. The Grand i10 will also come with the familiar 1.2-litre Kappa petrol engine with a four-speed automatic as an option, but it’s only the diesel that we were given to test drive.

We had high expectations of this new compact engine especially since Hyundai has made great strides in diesel technology. However, when you first start up the engine, you can’t miss that sharp diesel clatter which quickly goes away when the revs rise. Once on the move, this engine impresses with its refinement and fuss free nature. Performance feels smooth and linear but what’s missing is the strong surge in the mid-range so typical of more powerful diesel motors. Hence, it’s not great for overtaking on the highway but at low speeds, this compact diesel motor responds pretty well.

There’s very little ‘turbo lag’ or a delay to an input from your right leg and the Grand i10 smartly darts forward from as low as 1200rpm. Clearly, this diesel engine has been tuned to perform city duties and the Grand i10 can effortlessly amble around in town without the need to constantly shift. 

Although not given the entire road test treatment, the short drive revealed the Grand i10 to be stable and surefooted at high speeds. It also feels much more planted than the previous i10. The electrically powered steering is quite light and weights up well at speed which gives you additional confidence from behind the wheel.

 Slotted in between the i10 and i20, we expect the Grand i10 to come with a starting price of Rs. 4 lakh for the petrol variant and Rs. 5 lakh for the diesel variant (ex-showroom, Delhi) when it goes on sale on September 3.