Exciting times are back! There are many amongst us who have been waiting for an affordable family car. The Wagon R and Celerio have grown old, the Tiago is an excellent value for money product, but many are skeptical about the brand’s service and resale. Welcome, the Hyundai Santro 2018, which has made a comeback. This product had established Hyundai in India and once again the company has launched this new vehicle for India. The new Santro will be filling in its own shoes and this is a difficult task to do.
We were invited by the company to drive the new Santro 2018 on the streets of Bhubneshwar as we head for a 90 km drive towards the Konark temple. We got an opportunity to lay our hands on the Sportz and Asta variants and AMT and manual versions of the car. What does the new Santro have on offer? We share all the details with you. Do not forget to check out our youtube channel, which is India’s fastest growing auto channel in 2018. Let us begin our in-depth review of this new tall boy.
Many of us have fond memories of the Santro. Many have grown up in it, or their first car or maybe they did learn in it. The millenials are the ones who seem to be engaged a lot in the Santro era. It has been a tallboy design. The new 2018 model too is a tallboy. This comes with looks that aren’t out of the box. Instead it rather blends into other cars, when spotted in traffic. The Santro customer is one, who isn’t looking for too much style, rather more of simplicity. This is why there aren’t too many curves and edges on the vehicle. It has been made with simplicity and we reckon one should look at it. The new green and blue colour shades add some zing to the design, apart from that there isn’t much to speak about it. The whites, silvers and champagne golds make it look like any other car.
The front is striking and has a radical approach. You will either love it or hate it. The trapezoidal grille is on majorly on the bumper and the headlamps look similar to the i20. Fog lamps have a different look and are placed just under the lamps. The headlamp doesn’t have projectors or even daytime running LEDs. The crowned hood adds to the styling too. The side profile is simple and it doesn’t offer a lot in styling. One can mistake it to be the old i10, and this want the company wants. The design shouldn’t be something different and it should have the relation maintained. Lower variants come with 13-inch tyres and top model with 14. There are no alloy wheels on offer. Rear styling is subtle and very simple.
On the inside, the Santro has stylish interiors. If you opt for the green, interiors turn from black and beige to all green. This means the champagne gold inserts on the centre console also turn green. I loved the interior green more than the exterior one. Three-spoke steering wheel is good enough in size and perfect to hold and grip. The question that arises is, how well does it the quality feel? I believe the best-in-class. The fit and finish is top notch. The plastics are hard ones, but they will last for years. Sportz and Asta both have a touchscreen with liquid smooth response. I genuinely liked the dashboard. The instrument cluster wasn’t something I was happy with when I experienced it first time in Chennai, but it did grow on me. These variants have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and only Asta gets reverse parking sensors and camera. Single driver airbag and ABS + EBD is standard on all models, but Asta gets dual. My expectation was dual airbags as a standard for all variants.
Front seats offer good support and are comfortable for long trips. There is more than sufficient space and good visibility of the road. The seat offers decent comfort and can be tiring for longer trips. The rear seats offer decent support, but the cushioning could have been more. The rear head rest is fixed and small in size. Making three people sit at the back is a squeeze. There are rear AC vents not no 12V charging point. A family of four can travel in ease and their luggage of 235 litres can be carried too. The spare tyre is 13-inch one, which means 14-inch users will find it difficult to use that tyre full-time.
The pros inside the vehicle are its plastic quality, touchscreen system and the music output along with the space on offer. Things we reckon could have been better are rear head rest and cushioning.
In terms of engine, there is the a 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. This produces about 68bhp of power, 99Nm of torque and comes with five-speed manual and AMT options. In terms of engine quietness and refinement, the engine does a good job. Let’s begin with the manual first. The engine is responsive, has linear acceleration but lacks the punch. This makes it easy to drive on a daily basis in city, especially in traffic. There is sufficient torque and the engine pulls cleanly even in a higher cog. For daily use, for a family it is a great pick. The clutch is light, gear shifts are positive. They do not feel rubbery at any point. We reckon the city mileage of this car should be close to 13-14km/l, and on the highway it will jump to 17-18km/l. The braking of the manual is good and even the pedal feel is good.
Lets get on to the AMT. What’s different here? This is an in-house developed AMT. So, whats the advantage? This has electronic shifts and not mechanical actuators. This means that the shifts are smoother and have lesser jerks. The shift time is also a bit lesser. Upshifts and downshifts are fairly smooth and responsive. Now as the engine doesn’t have much of a punch, the AMT feels a lot smooth. The brakes on the AMT feel spongy. In terms of mileage, this car returns about 12-13km/l and on the highway it should be close to 16km/l. All the mileage figures aren’t test, but are expected from our end at the moment of all that we have driven.
The ride quality of the Santro 2018 is good and it does absorb all the bumps with ease. There is sufficient ground clearance even on bad roads. The rear is a bit bouncy, but it isn’t bad by any standards. The handling of a tall boy can’t be super sporty, but is good enough. The steering feel is decent and apt for daily city driving.
Now, the question that arises is, if the Santro is worth considering? If you ask us, the Asta at Rs 5.45 lakhs is a tad expensive and it is the Sportz that is a perfect fit. But with a single airbag missing, we reckon it has this a major sore point. Customers need to be educated and be made to get the basic mandate safety features as a push from the government and even automakers. The Sportz Santro manual and AMT is the variant we will recommend to our buyers. At the moment, the only potential challenger that the Santro has, is the Tiago. We will have to get them head-on to share which is a better package of the two.