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2018 Hyundai Santro – Expert review

2018 Hyundai Santro – Expert review

Snapshot: Hyundai has brought back the Santro brand with a car that’s based on the Grand i10. So will it be as successful as the original?

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Some names have a lot more emotional connect with them than others. The Santro for instance is synonymous with Hyundai’s initial success in India and also for establishing it as India’s second largest carmaker. After a gap, Hyundai now wants to bring this popular brand plate back into India and hopes that sentimental buyers who had great memories with the original will simply line up the showrooms for more of the same. Hyundai is off to a solid start, since the new car shares its platform with the Grand i10 ensuring a solid foundation but more on that later.

Hyundai Santro Exteriors

There’s a solid sense of déjà vu when you see the Santro head on. It does resemble the current Grand i10 and also the original i10, which was launched in 2007. The head lamps look very similar. Hyundai’s hexagonal grille though could be a big debate starter. It is the biggest that we’ve seen on a Hyundai car recently. From the side the car seems to be a mix and match of design themes. The big talking point is the wave pattern on the rear window sill, which adds more roominess on the inside. The front fender too has a nice ridge on it to give it a sporty look. The side profile will remind you of the Nissan Micra though. At the back Hyundai has played it safe with minimalist looking lamps and a no nonsense slab design. The rear though could be mistaken for any other car, the Grand i10 or the Maruti Celerio too.

Hyundai Santro interiors

Step inside the cabin and you will be forgiven to mistake this as the Grand i10. The Santro feels just as posh and premium as the Grand i10 does and that’s no mean feat considering that the Santro is aimed at the budget end of the market. The only visible sign of cost cutting is the positioning of the power window buttons in the middle of the centre console rather than the door pads. Other than that it’s hard to believe that this car starts from under Rs 4 lakh. The top end version comes with class leading features. You get things like Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard along with a reverse parking camera and rear AC vents. These are features which rivals don’t even offer as options. Hyundai has simply pushed the envelope when it comes to features, quality and overall finish. All the switches have a nice and plush feel about themselves too.

What buyers will truly appreciate is the amount of space inside the cabin. The front seats have good support all across and the rear occupants will enjoy the massive amounts of legroom and shoulder room on offer. Add to this the tall boy design of the car and you realise that getting in and out of the new Santro is a breeze, making it ideal for ageing parents at home. The boot at 235 litres isn’t the biggest but when you realise that its only 20 litres less than the Grand’s you won’t have reason to complain.

But it’s not all perfect, the rear and front head restraints have been fixed, so you can’t adjust them. Something we wish Hyundai can fix soon. Other than that it’s all good news inside the Santro.

Hyundai Santro engine

You get one engine option. There is a 1.1-litre, 68bhp petrol motor that you can also get with a CNG option from the factory. Smoothness, refinement and quietness are all hallmarks of this engine as long as you keep the revs below 3,500rpm. It’s ideal for driving around town because it also has very good responsiveness from low end in its rev
band. There is plenty of pulling power available in the mid-range too. But don’t get too over enthusiastic with the engine on the highway. With only 1100 cc to play with, it doesn’t have great flexibility and runs out of breath really fast. If you do speeds of 80-90kph it will be fine, but anything over that the engine starts to become a bit buzzy.

The manual gearbox that we drove too has a nice and crisp action to it. The throws are short and have a positive action. That coupled with the light clutch makes it the ideal city car to own and drive around traffic. An AMT-automatic is also available but we still haven’t driven it. Hyundai claims fuel economy figures in excess of 20kpl, which are decent for the car’s size and class.

Hyundai Santro ride and handling

Hyundai engineers know that small car buyers keep their cars within city limits over 95 percent of the times. The soft and supple suspension set up means that the car will take out the worst of worst stings away from the occupants. Buyers will appreciate this along with the super light steering, which needs minimum input as well. You can drive this car all day long and not feel tired. At faster highway speeds the Santro displays good stability as long as you keep it within 100kph. After that the car feels a bit light footed and the light steering doesn’t help matters either.


The new Santro feels like a miniature version of the bigger and more expensive Grand i10. It has similar levels of cabin space, refinement and features as well making it a stellar all round package. In fact, we are so impressed with this car that from a score of 100, we would give it a strong 90 and recommend a buy. Take a test drive at a Hyundai dealer today and you will come out just as impressed as we are with Hyundai’s tall boy.

Photography - Mohd. Nasir

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