They say never mess with things that aren’t broke and the Santro was just one of those things. Since its launch way back in 1998, the Santro had its priorities clear, to be an affordable and stylish family car and it built a brilliant reputation for itself by being one. Fast forward to 2018, Hyundai promised to bring back the small car in an all-new avatar. And finally after a gazillion spy shots, leaked information and what not, it’s finally here. Codenamed AH2, Hyundai played around with a lot of different names for the compact hatch, however according to a poll, 66 per cent of the people decided to stick with the popular Santro and that is exactly what Hyundai is calling it. We went to Hyundai’s plant in Chennai to have a closer look at Hyundai’s popular family car and here’s what we think.
Like I mentioned before, the Santro’s priorities were always clear and stylish was one of them. While the original car started the ‘Tall-Boy’ trend it wasn’t the most pleasing design. With the new car, Hyundai wanted to keep the Tall-Boy silhouette but at the same time eradicate the quirkiness that came with it. For most of it, they have been successful. The new car has a pleasing design that might not be loved by all, but won’t be hated either.
The front with the swept back headlights and the new cascade grille looks a little confused. It’s like Hyundai tried to mix the best bits of the i10 and the Grand i10. The side profile with the boomerang crease near the front fender and the kink at the rear window-sill frankly looks like Hyundai tried a little too hard. We weren’t allowed to click pictures and hence you see just these two official pictures provided by Hyundai with more coming on the launch on 23rd October. Hyundai did not want to make the same mistake it did with the Eon which was too radical for its segment and as a result they have played it safe with the new Santro.
Hyundai had pretty much covered up the dashboard too. But we did get a feel of space and quality. Taking centre place in the dash is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which seems to be borrowed from the Grand i10 and that’s a good thing. The steering wheel comes from the borrowed parts bin too and gets audio and telephony controls to play with. No climate control on offer but Hyundai has worked hard on the cooling with a 135cc compressor and increased blower capacity. Rear passengers get cooling vents too.
Driving position is pretty high up and as a result visibility is top notch which will make it easier for the new drivers. While the seats are broad and spacious, neither the front nor the rear seats get adjustable headrests. I did manage to get into the rear bench for a bit and legroom seems to be plenty even for tall passengers. Hyundai seems to have packaged the interiors quite well. Quality levels seem very good to and we think will be the best in its segment.
Powering the Santro is the same 1.1-litre, 4-cylinder engine that also did duty in the i10. What is refreshing to see is that Hyundai hasn’t skimped on a cylinder in a bid for better refinement and refined the Santro feels. The engine feels extremely smooth across the rev range with none of the three cylinder thrum that we are used to experiencing from the more common 3-cyclinder engines. Shifting duties are handled by a 5-speed manual or an in-house developed AMT gearbox. Since it was a very short drive all we can say is that the gearbox works extremely well with minimal head throb between shifts.
The engine puts out 69bhp @5500 rpm and 99Nm of torque and according to Hyundai returns 20.3 kmpl. Of course this will be verified once we get our hands on the car for a thorough review. There is a factory CNG option as well. However, here the Santro produces a significantly lesser 59bhp and 84Nm of torque.
The Santro is back and how. It’s loaded with features like the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, rear ac vents, rear parking sensors with a camera amongst others. It is also spacious and comes with a refined 4-cylinder engine that also gets an AMT transmission. Yes the design may not be a real head-turner, but then like I mentioned above, it won’t offend anyone either. Overall it seems like a well-rounded product that Hyundai has put a lot of thought into. Like always, it’s the price that will play a big part for the Santro and we think Hyundai might just get that right. Watch out for the launch and detailed review coming up soon.