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Hyundai Xcent test drive review

Snapshot: We drive the car that has what it takes to scare the Maruti Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze

Overview:

The Xcent is Hyundai’s take on the hugely popular entry midsize sedan segment and a direct rival to the established rivals like the Maruti Swift Dzire as well as Honda Amaze. Though the car is called Xcent, it shares nothing with the older Accent except the name. Hyundai wanted to use that name since the Accent brand has plenty of credibility in the market and Hyundai simply wanted to cash in on that. Just like the Dzire and Amaze the Xcent is based on a hatchback platform, in this case Hyundai’s successful Grand i10 and powered by the same set of diesel and power engines.

Exterior

The Xcent shares its looks with the Grand i10 so you get the same Fluidic styling with smooth flowing lines and plenty of curves. The car is similar to the Grand i10 till the rear C-pillar but the rear boot section has been integrated into the overall design better than most rivals and gives the car a more balanced looks then say the Swift Dzire. Just like its rivals the Xcent is under 4-metres in length, which helps it get excise benefits from the government.

Interior

The Xcent shares the same interior as the Grand i10, so you get plenty of legroom in both the front and rear rows. Cabin quality is good and the beige upholstery adds to the airy feel inside the cabin. The circular theme in the design looks nice as well and every control falls easily to hand.

The top-end variant comes loaded with kit, which includes Bluetooth enabled stereo, steering mounted audio controls, keyless ignition and a cooled glovebox among other things. The car also comes with first-in-class rear AC vents, which adds to the cabin’s practicality and comfort. However, the Xcent isn’t very wide, which means that the car isn’t adept at seating three at the rear. For long distances its best to sit two there. The 407-litre boot is the largest in its segment though.

Engine, transmission and performance

There are two engine options to choose from. You can choose between a 1.1-litre diesel with 71bhp and 180Nm of torque and a 1.2-litre petrol with 82bhp and 114Nm of torque. Both options come with five speed manual gearboxes. There is also a four-speed automatic with the petrol engine on sale but we didn’t get to drive that.

First the diesel. It is very strong on refinement and even when revved, the cabin remains a quiet and calm place to be. Power delivery is adequate rather than generous and the power tails out around 4,000rpm. Keep it between the 2,000-4,000rpm band and you will be happy. To be honest, this is all the power you will ever need. The gearbox is slick and accurate while the light clutch is a cinch to operate.

The petrol engine is supreme for refinement as well and actually feels punchier than the 82bhp of power that the tech sheet reveals. The engine is very responsive and the slightest tap of the accelerator is all you need to get going. This responsive nature along with the light controls make this an easy car to manoeuvre around town traffic.

Ride, handling and safety

Hyundai engineers have stiffened the suspension of the Xcent over the Grand hatchback and the results are immediate. The suspension remains supple enough around town while managing to annihilate potholes at higher speeds. Unlike most Hyundai’s which tend to pitch and wallow at high speeds, the Xcent retains its composure really well giving the driver great confidence as speeds increase.

The steering feels nicely weighted as the speeds build up and offers decent feedback. Overall, ride is very good considering that this is essentially a small car.

In terms of safety the car comes with a driver and passenger airbag along with Anti-ock braking (ABS.) You also get rear parking assist system, which aids parking into tight spaces, with the help of a rear camera which can be viewed on the rear view mirror, on top models. 

Fuel economy

Hyundai claims an ARAI-claimed figure of 24.4kpl for the diesel version. The petrol version delivers an ARAI-claimed figure of 19.1kpl while the petrol automatic will deliver 16.9kpl. All in all, good figures considering the segment.

Summary

The Xcent is exactly the kind of car an entry midsize buyer wants. Its keen pricing, feature-rich cabin, refined engines and generous space should appeal to a wide range of buyers. Sure, it could do with more power but performance will be more than adequate for most owners. What’s more, it is cheaper than its rivals. From the looks of it, Hyundai has just made another winner.  

Competitors

The Maruti Swift Dzire and the Honda Amaze are direct rivals. The Xcent trumps both in terms of features as well as boot space and is the cheapest to buy as well. The Xcent’s starting price is around Rs 34,000 lower than the Amaze and costs Rs 19,000 less than the Swift Dzire. What more could you ask for?

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