In this review of the New Hyundai Santro, we will try to talk as little as we can about the old Santro. We are not going to talk about how the previous generation of Santros were incredible cars. Nor are we going to talk about how they lived up to the “complete family car” promise their slogans iterated time and again. We are also not going to mention how the Santro coined and embodied the tall-boy persona and pretty much dominated the segment for a tremendous period of time. The fact that the Hyundai Santro was an incredible car for its segment in its time is not new news.
What IS new, is the new Hyundai Santro. After being discontinued in 2014, the Santro moniker has made a comeback with a new tag line that reads: “the perfect first car”. And in this review, we’re looking at it on a clean slate. We will not give it the unfair advantage of a piggyback ride on the success of the old Santro, nor are we going to hound it to live up to the former’s legacy. This is going to be a comprehensive and impartial review of the new-gen Hyundai Santro. Which brings us to this: can the new Santro hold its own without the leverage of its past success?
WHEN YOU FIRST LOOK AT THE HYUNDAI SANTRO,
it looks like your run-of-the-mill average car targeted for the budget buyer, sprinkled with certain styling flairs that help it stand out in the segment. Surprisingly, Hyundai has foregone the iconic tall boy structure, opting instead to give it a stance more akin to the Hyundai Grand i10 with which it shares the K1 platform.
Some of the design elements integrated by Hyundai into the new Santro are stylish as well as functional. The front fascia houses the Hyundai’s cascading grille, that functions to help cool the engine, sits wide across the face and encompasses the fog lamps. Angular, swept back headlamps are mounted high up on either side of the grille.
On the profile, you will notice that the shoulder line dips down on the rear door to give extra glass area as well as an element of style. Additional design element on the profile of the new Santro comes in the form of boomerang creases over the front wheel arch. Considering all the effort they put into the design, it was slightly off-putting to see the mediocre job they’ve done on the rear door frame thickness around the quarter glass.
The tail section of the Santro gets a pair of simple tail lights and functionally wide rear windshield. Overall, the design of the exterior is well put together and gives the Santro a premium feel. However, that is only half the battle.
IT’S WHEN YOU STEP INSIDE THE SANTRO,
that it surely begins to impress. For what is segmented as a budget car, the new Hyundai Santro is pretty well specced out. They have managed to maintain an air of quality in the cabin. It gets dual tone beige-and-black dashboard (with an option of all black) with a smoothly functioning 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sitting in the center.
The infotainment screen doubles as a reversing camera in the top-spec Asta variant. The fit and finish in the cabin are more than decent and there are elements that compel you to feel like you are in a higher segment vehicle. For example, parts like the buttons on the steering and the stalks are carried over from the Grand i10.
We loved that the dials receive a sporty design with the speedo needle resting at a zero-degree angle.
There’s also a detailed MID, displaying useful information like average fuel economy, average speed and distance to empty. The sporty looking side air-vents that resemble those seen on some Mercedes models further help it achieve the upmarket appeal.
Having said that, the budget constraints in the production are not completely concealed and cost cuts can be seen. For starters, you don’t get height adjustment for the front seats and seatbelts, there is no adjustment for the steering, you can’t adjust the headrests. Power window switches have been placed near the gear lever to give the driver and passengers more leg room (and to cut costs). It gets even more annoying (and risky) since it isn’t rear lit, and that can be an issue when driving at night.
However, we have to keep in mind that Hyundai is not really looking to fill the Santro with a plethora of bells and whistles but an amalgamation of creature comforts that make life decent. The cabin is spacious with ease of ingress and egress. Apart from the headroom, all other dimensions are increased from its predecessor. The front seats are comfortable, but the lack of seat height and steering height adjustment mean that it isn’t the best place to be for taller individuals. Rear passengers fare slightly better with plenty of shoulder room and tremendous under-thigh support, not to mention segment first rear aircon vents. The air-con itself is possibly the best in class and chills the cabin rapidly, despite the huge glass area.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The same 1.1-liter Epsilon engine (G4HG) from the old Santro Xing and in the original i10 finds its way into the new- generation platform of the new Santro. Once again, this is likely for cost reasons, as the Kappa II engine (though a cylinder down on the Epsilon) uses four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing.
The 1.1 Epsilon makes 69hp and 99Nm of torque which is competitive statistics in the segment. Where it excels most opposition is in terms of refinement with little to no vibrations regardless of being on idle or on the move. The engine responds well to your inputs and performs best when it’s in the mid-range. Gear shifts are slick and easy thanks to the light clutch; this makes life in stop and go traffic much easier.
It is not a rev happy engine and feels a little stressed when pushing it upwards of 5000rpm, but the power comes in at 1000rpm and remains strong throughout the mid-range.
With its ability to soak up road undulations with ease, the Santro scores high points in terms of ride comfort. Nevertheless, sharp bumps do seep through to the occupants of the vehicle. It can also take on corners with comparative ease. Steering is light and easy to maneuver with decent feedback. You will not run into trouble around tight traffic.
WHERE DO WE STAND ON THE NEW HYUNDAI SANTRO?
Is the new Santro a trailblazer like its predecessor? No. But we’re pretty sure that isn’t what Hyundai set out to achieve with the New Santro. What they were shooting for is a budget car that would be the perfect first car.
You look for a lot of things in your first car. Things like utility, functionality, ease of driving rank high on the list. Also contesting these factors are more subjective elements, like the way it makes you feel when you’re behind the wheels. Taking on the role of anyone’s first car is a large responsibility. The first car takes on the tall order of creating lasting memories. It takes on the burden of making an impression on the owner that will last them a lifetime. And it takes on the gargantuan task of becoming a fond memory that lasts someone a lifetime.
The new Hyundai Santro is a decent car for the segment. It gets many things right and very few wrong. While there are plenty of cost cuts, you still feel like you’re driving a car made for a different class. Segment firsts like the rear aircon vent and rear parking camera definitely work towards taking the Santro higher up on the potential purchase list. Overall, the new Santro is a great new car and manages to punch above its weight in many instances. It is a very good first car, exceptionally good in many aspects. However, we will need more convincing before we give it the prestige of being the perfect first car.