South Africa

FIRST DRIVE | The 2020 Hyundai Grand i10 is a budget car star

FIRST DRIVE | The 2020 Hyundai Grand i10 is a budget car star

The Hyundai Grand i10 has a unique selling point held by none of its contemporaries at present. It is among the eligible vehicles in the World Urban Car category of the 2021 World Car Awards competition.

Fellow contenders on the list include the Chevrolet Onix (not sold here) and the latest Honda Jazz and Honda-E, neither of which are confirmed yet for our market.

Also in the running is the new Hyundai i20 (imminent), the Kia Sonet, which is expected in December, and the next-generation Toyota Yaris, which may or may not make it to local shores.

There is no denying the compact South Korean is a truly global citizen, exported to as many as 87 countries and with some 1.15 million units having left the Chennai, India factory.

Locally, the Grand i10 plays in an arena with which SA consumers are familiar : that of the budget-focused B-segment. Players such as the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, Suzuki Swift, Ford Figo, Renault Sandero and Toyota Etios (now replaced by the Starlet) are staples of affordable motoring. The company also cited products further down the rungs as peripheral rivals, such as the Datsun Go and Renault Kwid.

Compared to the predecessor launched in 2014, the latest instalment is larger in length (+40mm), width (+20mm) and wheelbase (+25mm). The boot gains an extra four litres (now 260l) while the vehicle is a tad shorter overall, seeing a reduction in height of 10mm versus the former model.

Rarely would one use “menacing” as a descriptor for offerings in this space, but the face of the Grand i10 seems to be just that. A gaping grille, headlights in an aggressive slant and two noticeable frown lines on the hood lend it a decidedly mean countenance. The side and rear profiles are congruous with this sharpened-up, pleat-intensive aesthetic persona.

Two engine and transmission choices are on offer, both proven normally-aspirated petrol units. First up is the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder (49kW and 94Nm), followed by the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder (61kW and 114Nm). Both can be had with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Our drive was with the larger engine offering in manual guise. Performance was as we expected. While operation is ideal in urban, around-town settings, momentum and careful anticipation are your friends on the freeway: you really have to plan in advance for those overtaking manoeuvres. Especially with the air-conditioning turned up all the way.

Interior quality and road manners exceeded our initial estimations. Take the front seats, for example, which have to be the finest available in the category.

They are endowed with more plumpness than one experiences in rivals and include lateral bolsters with generous support – support that surpasses the type of velocities and dynamics the average driver will achieve in the Grand i10.

A special mention must be given to the level of tactile quality apparent in the cabin. Materials are of a hard-wearing nature, but the immediate touchpoints are pleasant, from the upper sections of the door panels to the gearshift lever as well as the steering wheel upholstered in imitation leather, just like those seats.

Granted, we were piloting the swankier Fluid model grade, slotting above the regular Motion designation. Its infotainment system leaves room for improvement, with a layout and display erring on the outmoded side. That said, the touchscreen setup os compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

All models get anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags. There are no crash safety ratings available for the vehicle yet, although its predecessor was a four-star vehicle when it was tested by Euro NCAP. This ought to augur well for the new vehicle when it is assessed.

Pricing starts at R191,000 (1.0 Motion manual), a substantial outlay over the smaller Atos, which kicks off at R169,500. The 1.0 Motion with an automatic gearbox costs R216,900, which is the same price as the 1.0 Fluid manual. The 1.2 Fluid manual we tested goes for R230,900. The most you will pay is R256,900  for the 1.2 Fluid automatic.

Pricing includes a seven-year/200,000km warranty, one-year/15,000km service plan and five-year/150,000km roadside assistance.