With the Xcent, Hyundai have readied their contender for the sub-4 meter entry level sedan segment. Based on the terrifically well packaged and extremely well appointed Grand i10, the Xcent is expected to pose a mighty challenge to the Amaze and the Dzire sedans. So does all the Xcent shine as brilliantly as its hatchback sibling did upon its advent? Let’s find out in this detailed review.
The compact sedan or the sub four metre sedan segment is today among the fastest growing segments of the Indian car market. It was more than half a decade ago, in 2008, when Tata Motors decided to become the first manufacturer to make full use of the new excise duty laws by our Government and came up with the Indigo CS, which took the center stage at Tata’s pavilion at the ’08 Auto Expo. It may be noted that as per the excise duty laws, makers of any car with engine size of less than 1200 cc/1500cc (for petrol/diesel) and overall length of less than four metres need to pay a lower excise duty than what they need to pay for cars failing to meet this criteria. Hence, the manufacturer benefits from this slack in duty and passes on all the benefit to customers, of course by pricing the car ultra competitively.
— Tata Indigo CS, the first compact sedan ever!
While the gates to this new segment of our car bazaar were opened by the Indigo CS, it is the second gen Maruti Dzire that is easily the most successful compact sedan today. Such has been the sales success of both the aforementioned sub 4m cars that other car manufacturers in India are finding it hard to ignore this segment and are fast readying up their own iterations of a compact sedan.Some time back, Honda threw a surprise by slapping on a stubby boot to its considerably successful Brio hatchback and launching it as the Amaze at a price point that made owning a Honda sedan easier than ever! Mahindra was to follow suit with the launch of the Verito Vibe, which is essentially a last gen Dacia Logan minus the three box design.
— The Hyundai Xcent is a direct rival to the Maruti Dzire, the largest selling compact sedan today
While news of Volkswagen and Nissan being busy readying their own compact sedans has been doing rounds since some time now, Hyundai has been very quick with coming up with its player for the compact sedan market. Less than a year after it launched the Hyundai Grand i10, which is the latest generation of i10, in India, it has come up with the compact sedan variant of its new Grand i10 hatchback. Dubbed as the Xcent, the new car was recently launched in India and last we checked, is already clocking decent numbers on the sales charts. Yes, that name must have rung a bell in your mind, which is not surprising considering that the Accent was one of the two cars that enabled Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of the Korean auto giant, to garner a strong footing in Indian car market. And this is exactly what the boffins at Hyundai have planned, that is, to capitalize on the brand recognition that its earlier entry level sedan still enjoys in India.
— The Xcent has been named so to capitalize on the brand image of the Accent, the first ever sedan from HMIL
However, save for coming from the same manufacturer, the new car has hardly anything else to do with the now defunct three box sedan. So has Hyundai managed to get it right with its first ever compact sedan? Will it be able to garner half as much fan following as the Accent enjoyed? More importantly, does it have what it takes to leave a dent on the sales of Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the Honda Amaze? Go through our Mega Review here to have all such questions answered.
Hyundai Xcent Review
We were never fans of the way these sub four metre sedans have looked and the new Xcent hasn’t really tried hard enough to make us change our belief. At first glace, the new Hyundai Xcent looks like a Grand i10 that was bestowed with a little extra boot, which is what the new Xcent actually is. However, worth a mention here is that the designers of the new Hyundai Grand i10 sedan, nay, the Xcent have done a fairly neat job with sticking a boot to the B segment hatchback.What the designers couldn’t manage though, was getting the proportions and overall design as right as on the donor hatchback. The Xcent is a decent looking car, but we don’t think anyone will fall in love with this car at the first sight.
Other than that stubby boot, the blackened B pillars, slightly smoked out headlamps and the new set of badges, there isn’t much more that differentiates the Xcent from its hatchback sibling. This means that much like the Grand i10, the new Xcent also features a slightly ‘toned down’ version of Hyundai’s internationally acclaimed Fludic Design Sculpture. This also means that elements like the swooping headlights, large front air dam and a creased engine hood with a hint of a clamshell design help the new compact sedan score some extra points in our review here.
Step inside and the sense of deja vu continues. As you must have expected, the Xcent shares most of its interior panels with the Grand i10, which means it gets the same two tone dashboard, same door pads and the same instrument console. While this further robs off the Xcent from the exclusivity factor, it does mean that the car benefits from a well designed interior setup. The biggest visible change between the interiors of the two cars is the shut-lid for the Xcent’s storage compartment on the centre console. Lest we forget, it also gets an auto aircon display, which is absent on the Grand i10.
At the recently concluded Milan Design Week, which is basically the highest-profile car design event there is, Allan Rushforth, Senior Vice President and COO at Hyundai Motor Europe, commented: “Design is the number one reason customers choose Hyundai vehicles in Europe. . . . . .”. Now, the Xcent is not meant for the European market but that doesn’t mean that we, at India, don’t appreciate the flamboyance and the modern design cues that come with the Hyundai sedans on sale here. The Xcent though, isn’t in the league of the Verna, Elantra or the Sonata, which feature a really dynamic design that exudes sportiness and a premium character.
However, to be fair to the Xcent, allow us to state that while the new car is far from being a beauty contest winner, it still manages to come across as a fairly stylish compact sedan that would have many takers.
Features and Space
Hyundai Motors India Ltd (HMIL) has always been known for packing in enough features in its cars to project them as really lucrative options. And the new Hyundai Xcent is no different. Rather, this is an area where the Xcent not just excels but also redefines Hyundai’s own standards. The new Hyundai Xcent compact sedan, very much like the hatchback it is based on, comes kitted with many “first in class” features. The new car is so well equipped that some of the features it has got aren’t available in cars even from a segment higher!
Thanks to these highly appreciable features on the new Hyundai Xcent, along with an impossible-to-ignore price tag, the new compact sedan from Hyundai comes across as unbeatable value for money! Some of the most appreciated comfort, convenience and safety features on the new Hyundai Xcent are-
- Aircon vents for rear passengers
- Smart key with push button start
- Sensors and Rear parking camera
- 15” Diamond cut alloy wheels
- 1 GB internal memory for the infotainment system
- Auto folding mirrors
- Auto aircon
- Antilock braking system (ABS)
- Cluster ionizer
- Cooled Glove box
- Steering mounted audio controls and Bluetooth
- Dual Air-bags
- Rear defogger
Worth a mention here is that some of these features, such as the internal memory for infotainment system, cooled glovebox, and rear aircon vents are conspicuous by their absence of every other compact/entry level sedan on sale in India today.
The new Hyundai Xcent might be a small sedan but let us not forget that it is based on the Grand i10, which is 40mm longer than the European spec new gen i10. This translates into a decently airy cabin and the legroom for the front passengers of the Xcent can be easily compared to what the now defunct Accent sedan offered. The rear legroom is quite good for a small sedan and only the really tall passengers might have a complaint here. The rear seat should easily accommodate two full grown adults, along with a kid and comes with adjustable head restraints. Overall, the new Hyundai Xcent comes across as quite a spacious offering, especially when you consider it measures less than four metres in length and shares its wheelbase with a hatchback!
— Rear parking camera on top of the line variant makes parking a breeze
— Unlike the Grand i10, the Xcent gets auto aircon
— The car also gets electrically folding and adjustable ORVMs
— Rear AC vents a segment-first!
— Top end variant gets 15 inch diamond cut alloys
— The Audio System gets 1 GB of internal storage! Another segment first
The new Hyundai Xcent not just looks like the Grand i10 but also comes with the same set of petrol and diesel engines that power the donor car, which means it gets a 1.1 litre U2 three cylinder CRDi diesel motor and a 1.2 litre Kappa Dual four cylinder VTVT petrol engine. Now, we’ve driven the Grand i10 and were rather satisfied with the performance of its engines, which means the same engines powering the new compact sedan shouldn’t be a problem. What’s even better is the fact that Hyundai has re-tuned both the motors to make them all the more apt to be used on the Xcent.
The 1.1 CRDi diesel engine churns out a max power of 72PS@4000rpm, along with a peak torque of 18.4kgm@1750- 2500rpm. This engine boasts of an ARAI-certified fuel mileage of 24.4kmpl and comes mated to a five speed manual gearbox. The 1.2 litre Kappa petrol engine enjoys a max power of 83PS@6000rpm and a peak torque of 11.6 kgm@4000rpm. This engine boasts of an ARAI-certified fuel mileage of 19.1kmpl. The petrol engine can be had either with a 5-speed manual or a 4- speed Automatic transmission.
Coming to our driving impression of the diesel variant, the Xcent 1.1 CRDi projects itself as a very likeable car that feels as much at home in the city as when munching miles on the highway. The engineers at Hyundai have done a good job with bestowing this diesel engine with decent mid range torque and well spaced out gear ratios. While it is exactly the mid range where the engine is in its element, it is not really a slouch even lower down the revs. The turbo properly kicks in around the 1800 rpm mark and and the motor continues to deliver a punchy performance right till little north of 3500 rpm.
Thanks to decent torque and good gearing, the Xcent is capable of trundling along in fifth gear at a speedo indicated 100 kmph, with the tacho hovering around the 2500 revs mark! Even at 120 kmph in fifth gear, the rev counter shows an engine speed of a little less than 3000 rpm! In the real world a speedo top speed nudging the 160 km/h mark should be achievable with an open and smooth patch of tarmac. 120-130 kmph is fairly easy to achieve but anything beyond 140 kays is a bit of struggle, with the car rapidly losing steam as it nears the very top end of its performance. Overall, decent torque spread, good gearing, light clutch action and slick gearshifts make the car almost a breeze to drive in varied traffic conditions from bumper-to-bumper city congestion to high speed cruising on the expressways.
While we don’t have much of a complain with the way the U2 CRDi diesel engine performs, the NVH levels on the Xcent, however, leave us a bit unimpressed. While the NVH on the new Hyundai Xcent is not as high as on. . say. . the Honda Amaze diesel, we still feel it could have been a tad better. Firstly, the cabin of the car isn’t well insulated from the diesel clatter and the decibel levels rise further as the tacho needle climbs towards the redline. Secondly, we also found some vibrations creeping into the gear lever at idle.
Coming to the driving impression of the Xcent petrol, the car’s 1.2 petrol engine comes across as a decent performer and just in case you are used to old Korean motors like the one on the Hyundai Santro or the last gen i10, you are in for quite a surprise here! The new Xcent’s 1.2 litre petrol engine has refinement and performance levels at par with that from most of the Japanese small capacity petrol engines out there. The 1.2 litre four pot motor that powers the Xcent, in a manner typical of the aforementioned Japanese engines, comes across as peppy and highly responsive. And that sweet sound note is icing on the cake.
We love the way in which the engine performs with quite a gusto, right from the word go and makes the Xcent very enjoyable when you are in a mood to push it. The engine also scores pretty well in terms of driveability and can happily cruise along in fifth gear at speeds as low as 40-45 kmph. On this engine variant, the real world top speed should be slightly higher at about 165 kmph. Much like the diesel variant, the gearshifts here too are smooth and very precise. But unlike the diesel variant, the petrol model doesn’t suffer from the rather high NVH levels that we found on the diesel model and its only when you really floor the throttle that the engine note gets to the louder side, which isn’t really a complain as we thoroughly enjoyed the way that engine sounds when on the boil.
While both the petrol and the diesel engines have almost a similar top speed and both are almost equally eager performers, it is in the way these motors go about their business that makes all the difference. While the diesel engine, much like most turbo’ed oil burners in business today, has a rather dull low end, punchy mid end and an okayish top end, the petrol motor comes across as peppy and offers linear, incremental performance with the rise in engine speed.
Ride, Handling and Braking
Suspension duties on the new Hyundai Xcent are handled by Independent MacPherson struts at the front, and a torsion beam axle at the rear.The car gets gas charged shock absorbers and in a manner typical of Hyundais, the ride-handling bias is towards the ride quality, rather than towards outright handling. The Xcent offers a comfy ride and the suspension easily soaks in most of the ruts and small potholes that our city roads are generally marked with. Even the medium sized bumps and craters are dealt with quite an ease and its only the really large potholes and speed humps that threaten to unsettle this car. Stability is not really an issue and even at speeds north of 120 kmph, the Xcent felt well planted.
The steering on the Hyundai Xcent is an EPS unit, which like most other such systems, does feel a tad disconnected to the wheels, especially towards the center. And while we appreciate the fact that the steering is not at all lifeless and gains weight as the speeds rise, we would want it to be tad lighter at parking speeds. While the Xcent has got a reasonably direct steering, we would still want it to be more communicative and feel as ‘natural’ as the Hydraulic units. That said, we would like to repeat that the we like that fact that the Xcent’s steering is not half as dull and lifeless as the those on some other Hyundai models we have on sale here. Also, while the Xcent might not please the boy racers in us, it won’t let you down under sudden lane changing manoeuvres and will hold on to its line pretty well. The body roll is quite well contained for the segment it represents.
Unlike the Verna, which gets disc brakes on all four wheels, the Xcent comes with a drum brake setup at the rear. The brakes on the new Hyundai Xcent are more than adequate to haul this small sedan down from speeds around 100 kmph, without any drama! The brakes have a good bite and we could feel the ABS working very well during some of the powerslides we attempted on the Xcent.
Summing it all up, the Xcent boasts of a really good ride quality, decent road handling manners and sufficiently powerful brakes. Nothing really to complain about here.
The new Hyundai Xcent has been launched at a starting price of INR 4.66 lakhs (ex-Delhi), making the new car almost INR 20,000 cheaper than the bare-basic variant of the Dzire. Even the automatic variant of the Xcent, priced at INR 6.28 lakhs, is almost INR 35,000 cheaper than the Dzire Automatic.
Here is the new Hyunda Xcent price list, in comparison with that of the Dzire, its immediate rival-
|Maruti Swift Dzire||Hyudai Xcent|
|Petrol||Lxi- 4.85 Lakhs||Base- 4.66 Lakhs|
|Vxi- 5.44 Lakhs||S-5.32 Lakhs|
|Zxi- 6.32 Lakhs||S(0)- 5.57 Lakhs|
|ZXI At- 6.61 Lakhs||SX- 6.22 Lakhs|
|SX(0)- 6.47 Lakhs|
|AT S (O) – Rs. 6.28 lakhs|
|AT SX (O) – Rs. 7.19 lakhs|
|Diesel||Ldi- 5.79 Lakhs||Base – Rs. 5.56 lakhs|
|Vdi- 6.51 Lakhs||S – Rs. 6.23 lakhs|
|Zdi- 7.32 Lakhs||S (O) – 6.48 Rs. lakhs|
|SX – Rs. 7.13 lakhs|
|SX (O) – Rs. 7.38 lakhs|
Hyundai Motor India have come up with a really well-thought of price list for the new Compact Sedan. As can be seen, while the Dzire ZXI AT has been priced at INR 6.61 Lakhs, the Xcent AT S(O) is priced more than INR 30k lower. However, there is more to this comparison than just these price differences.
We have to give it to Hyundai India for bestowing the new Xcent with really attractive prices that easily undercut those of both the Dzire and the Honda Amaze by a good margin. Hyundai has been rather smart with the way it has divided the equipment between the variants of its new car. For instance, while the ZXi AT comes equipped with ABS and Airbags as standard, the S(O) gets only ABS. For airbags, the buyer of the Xcent needs to go for SX(O), which costs almost INR 50k more than the Dzire AT and 90k more than Xcent S(O) AT! However, there is another way to look at it, as opting for the fully loaded model brings along many more features such as 15 inch diamond cut mag wheels, infotainment system with 1 GB internal memory, reverse parking camera, et al.
HMIL has surely done a brilliant job with the way it has priced the new Xcent. The Xcent is easily more feature-laden than the Maruti Swift Dzire, the current top-seller in its segment, and on the same time, comes across as much better priced than all its rivals!
The new Hyundai Xcent compact sedan has surely left us quite impressed. What makes the Xcent really appealing to us are those first-in-class features, decent ride quality, frugal motors and a price tag that should have left the competition really worried. Add to all this the competent Hyundai after sales network and you are looking at a package that is really hard to ignore. Don’t be too surprised if the new Hyundai Xcent becomes the next BIG thing in the world of SMALL sedans!