What once used to be a common sight on our roads has become quite the novelty: compact sedans based on a popular budget hatchback. That’s basically the recipe for this new Hyundai Grand i10 Sedan…
Do any of the following ring a nostalgic bell? Ford Laser sedan, Mazda 323 or Sting sedan, Opel Corsa sedan, VW Polo Classic sedan, VW Fox or Trippa. All of them started life with a sloping back end and, thanks to pre-SUV demand for more cargo space, had a boxy boot welded onto their derrieres.
The Polo is one of the last men standing, with most of the others silently slipping off the sales brochure. Mazda’s 2 Sedan made an appearance for a while, and now it seems that the Koreans are keen to fill the void for cheap and cheerful saloons. Be it Uber operators, budget buyers or non-adventurous commuters, a small market segment remains.
Kia brought us their three-box Cerato or Rio offerings, and currently builds the Pegas compact sedan, while sister-company Hyundai went through Accent and Elantra until they got to this Grand i10 sedan. It’s certainly the more compact than its forebears but, as our test of this 1.2 Fluid Manual proved, it’s got all the right ingredients.
I’d like to start with the design, as this could be a deal-breaker for some (image-conscious) buyers. All of the above-mentioned compatriots proved that getting the looks of a small sedan right is incredibly tricky… their compact dimensions and budget wheels don’t allow manufacturers to dress them up or fill those diminutive wheel arches.
The recent, more conservative VW Polo sedan comes awfully close to looking proper, but most of these little saloon cars would require stretched proportions and lower ride heights with bigger alloys to make them look hotter. But all of that counters the very ethos they’re built on: to be compact, comfy and affordable.
Hyundai really did their best, bless them, to make this Grand i10 look interesting and less bulbous than its silhouette reveals. They mostly succeeded by using clever panel creases, flattened wheel arch edges, highly styled light clusters (with a pretend bar across its bum), plenty of bumper slashes and an extremely busy wheel design.
The overall look is impressive. And although it won’t clear the overtaking lane for you, at least it’s not a slab-sided shoebox with undersized wheels. The same goes for the interior, which masks its cheapie origins with interesting seat fabric, sculpted dash and door trims, various high-contrast trim elements and just enough screen real-estate to appease most modern buyers.
The aircon and gearbox may be manually controlled (auto-box also available), but the adjustable steering wheel is full of cruise and audio buttons, while the well-placed media screen promises to be your phone’s best buddy. Now throw in ABS, airbags, central locking and a couple of powered goodies to seal the deal in terms of standard specifications.
Is it good to drive though?
The short answer is, yes. Unless you subject the poor beast to big loads and/or high altitudes, this compact Hyundai effort shines with light controls and a very willing engine. The 1.2L 4-cylinder provides the front wheels with up to 61kW or 114Nm through a well-spaced 5-speed manual gearbox, and against a dry weight of 917kg.
With just one or two occupants, the rev-happy 16-valve unit easily pulls you along in daily traffic and even surprised me with an unexpected urge to increase momentum at low rpm’s. Go flat out through the gears – with caution to prevent massive wheel spin – and Hyundai alleges that it should hit 100km/h in 12.3 seconds before topping out at 167km/h.
We were all-too-happy to test these claims and achieved a best 0-100km/h time of 11.6 seconds with a top speed of around 165km/h; although it has to be noted that a longer road and more patient driver could better that result. A single brake test from 100km/h was over in 2.84 seconds and 40.17m; Hyundai claims 41.6m.
All of these are highly respectable values for a budget car.
Other figures which may interest public transport operators include the average fuel use of 5.5L/100km from a 37L tank, 402L boot, 157mm of ground clearance, 15-inch wheels with 14-inch spare, reliable timing chain (instead of belt), ABS-assisted front disc- and rear drum-brakes, mechanical hand brake, and a turning radius of just 4.9m!
While we didn’t get to test all of these items, every driver remarked that the fuel consumption could possibly be beaten by a skilful highway pilot. There was a bit of a debate about rear passenger space, so we urge any interested buyers to please visit their nearest Hyundai dealer for a proper seating and test-drive.
Here they’ll probably discover that the new Grand i10 sedan may have an erroneous name but is packed full of clever details and features. This makes the price of around R285,000 tolerable, especially once you factor in the 5-year/150,000km warranty (2-year/50,000km extra for the drive train) and a service plan as teeny-tiny as the car itself.