The i10 has been a hot favorite among the Indian car buyers ever since it was launched, and has always sold in good numbers. After about three years of its launch, however, the car required a good makeover, not just from the outside, but from the inside, and from under the bonnet as well if Hyundai wanted to keep its charm intact. Hyundai have responded to the need in the form of the new, facelifted i10, what they prefer calling the Next Gen i10, and have changed quite a lot of things for the new i10 to be termed as just a ‘facelift’. The changes are more than skin deep and make this perky little car a better VFM proposition. So what all is new? Let’s have a look.
The most prominent change that you witness on the new car is its entirely altered front grille. That hexagonal grille is the new identity for the Hyundai family of cars. Just like Audi’s goatee grille and BMW’s kidney grille, that hexagon is going to be the hallmark of every future Hyundai, and will be the most recognizable aspect of the new Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy adopted by the Korean carmaker. This hexagon on the i10 is divided in two, horizontally, by a slat which also serves up as a mount for the number plate. The lower portion of the hexagon which becomes an air dam, is flanked by tho black trapezoidal slots (on lower variants), which serve as fog lamps in the higher variants of the car. The i10 is the first car in its class to offer ORVM mounted turn indicators.
In its newest avatar, the i10 looks more athletic than cute. There are complex lines around the front grill, featuring more chiseled than plain surfaces. The headlamps too now have some detailing within to add some more character to the front.
The i10 is unchanged in profile, save for the body coloured rub rails, but as you proceed towards the rear, the newly incorporated design changes make an appearance. The tail lamp cluster has been redesigned, and the rear bumper too is new.
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The interior of the new i10 is still easily identifiable, with the overall theme still being in line with the one on the older car. The center console, the position of the gear shifter, the texture on the plastics – it’s all the same, but small changes have done a great job of making it all look fresh. The center console, with the music system, for eg, is essentially the same design, but the change of the exterior colour, a change in the backlight and improving the functionality by introducing USB / AUX-in and Bluetooth connectivity has taken the value proposition a few notches up. The new treatment makes the interior look more lively and upmarket than the earlier version.
The seat fabrics are new and so is the new light-brown and beige two-tone colour scheme for the dash. The Ac vent bezels now get a chrome treatment, which really adds a lot to the premium feel of the cabin. The instrument cluster is largely unchanged, but has ditched the analogue fuel gauge for a digital one, with a readout for odo and trip meters as well. It doesn’t include a trip computer though.
A very interesting inclusion is an LCD screen in the instrument cluster that continuously suggests the right gear to be in for optimum fuel efficiency. If you are riding a couple of thousand revs higher than what helps your pocket best, the screen will display the correct gear you should be in. So if you’re driving in 3rd gear when you very well could in the 5th, you’d know.
We got the top end Asta variant for a test drive, and should we say, it was loaded to the gills for a small car. ABS, twin airbags, steering mounted stereo controls, reverse parking sensors, a height adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry and heated outside mirrors – what more could we have asked for. The quality of materials too is highly commendable. With its soft touch, premium quality materials, the i10 actually feels like a quality product in its segment and outdoes its immediate competition.
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Engine and gearbox
For the next-gen i10, the engines have also been given their fair bit of alteration. The 1.1-litre iRDe engine has now been tweaked to produce 3 more horses for an overall peak power output of 69PS @ 5500 rpm with a peak torque release of 100Nm @ 4000rpm. The gains in power have been attained by increasing the size of the intake and exhaust valves and by applying a special low-friction coating on the pistons. The engine after the tweak has been christened as iRDe2.
However, the car that we got for our review was fitted with the 1.2-litre Kappa unit, which in its newest incarnation is called Kappa2. The new engine is equipped with variable valve timing technology which Hyundai likes calling VTVT for its cars (Verna VTVT, rem?). The power and torque output remain same as the earlier 1.2Kappa unit at [email protected] 6000 rpm and [email protected] While the power and torque output has not change, the inclusion of VTVT has endowed the i10 with a better low and mid-range punch, which, as a result has made it a better car to drive in the city. This means that the i10 won’t splutter and stutter even if you try to drive it at slow speed in higher gears.
The fruits of the good low and mid range punch of the new engine are evident. It burns the fuel the way it should, resulting in a class-leading ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 20.36kmpl. That figure is truely impressive for a 1.2-litre engine, and is close to attainable too, if you follow the gear suggestions in the instrument panel.
The engine is mated to a slick shifting five speed gearbox. Small and light to hold, the gearshifter feels extremely smooth and tactile. The gearstick also falls in just the right place and is a delight to operate. The i10 is also one of the few small cars to be available with an auto gearbox option. The automatic gearbox is a four-speeder.
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Ride and handling
I had been driving a Fiat Grande Punto for some time before I took the delivery of the new i10 for a review. I could instantly feel the difference as soon as I climbed into the i10. While the Hyundai feels smaller and lighter than the tank-like Punto, it also offers virtues in the form of better visibility all around, a much shorter turning radius, lighter steering and better maneuverability.
The i10 is essentially a city car. And it really shines within the urbanscape. The steering is light and responsive, the gearshifts are slick – it’s a hassle free car to drive in choc-a-bloc driving conditions of the metros. The suspension is slightly on the softer side, so it absorbs those undulations at slow and moderate speeds with aplomb. Overall, we found the ride quality of the car to be reasonably comfortable for its class, and the dynamic behavior to be reliable and predictable for the city conditions.
The game, however, changes once you get onto the highway though. The 1.2 litre Kappa2 engine is quite a potent mill and delivers enough punch to accelerate the i10 briskly to upto 140km/h. It is at such higher speeds, that the i10 makes you desire a bit more. The tyres could have done with a bit more of width, while the soft suspension which brought a smile on your back seat passengers, causes a bit of worry as you push it hard around those twisties.
To sum it up, the i10’s underpinnings make is a fabulous urban runabout, but if you are looking for a highway companion for roadtrips, then this is not the weapon of choice for you.
Summing it up
The i10 has been around for quite a while, and it’s not without reason that it’s holding its ground so well. It’s a no-fuss city car which ticks every box against the wish list of a small family without costing too much. Apart from its engineering virtues, the i10 also has a premium feel about it. The reliability and efficiency of the car have been proven over the past three years and it’s definitely one of the best ‘first cars’ to buy.
At a price that ranges from 4,11,665 OTR Mumbai for the base 1.1-litre to a little more than 6.0-lakh OTR Mumbai for the top end Asta 1.2 Kappa2, the i10 does sound like a slightly expensive car at the first glance. However, once you sit inside, after having sampled some other cars in the segment, you realize that Hyundai have actually paid a lot of attention to quality of the car. It’s definitely not the cheapest, but also, it’s definitely one of the best small city cars around.