Auto focus

Review: Hyundai Grand i10 Nios

S Muralidhar | Updated on September 06, 2019 Published on September 06, 2019

Hyundai’s refresh on the Grand i10 brings in more features and an auto gearbox, but is it enough to take on the Swift?

The Hyundai Grand i10 was a little ahead of its time, bringing in features like push-button start and rear air-conditioning vents to the B+ segment. Competitors didn’t quite catch up even years later. But now, Hyundai is aiming to draw buyers away from models higher up the price range in the premium hatch segment with its new Grand i10 Nios — a refreshed and reloaded version of its existing popular small car. And one of the competitor models that the Nios has trained its projector headlamps on is the Maruti Suzuki Swift. In fact, at the official first test drive, Hyundai officials were comparing the new model only with the Swift; highlighting the additional features that the Nios brings with it.

Nios, apparently meaning ‘more’ in Irish, is built on the same, albeit modified, platform as the previous generation Grand i10. It is meant to deliver more features and space for a generation of buyers seeking a safer and loaded small car. So, even though it is bigger than the current model, the Nios is about 40 kg lighter thanks to an increase in the use of advanced and high-strength steel. It is also about 40 mm longer, with an increase of 25 mm in wheelbase and 20 mm in width. Hyundai has adopted the strategy of retaining the old model alongside the new one in the past with mixed results and it has done it again with the Grand i10 and Nios continuing to co-exist. The petrol engine variant of the Nios is BS VI-compliant and the diesel variant will also be compliant before the standard kicks in next year. Hyundai hasn’t mentioned if the current Grand i10 will be pulled out by then.

Design

In its headlamp and cascading grille design, the new Grand i10 Nios has taken the direction that was first seen in the Santro. So, the resemblance to Hyundai’s entry small car is quite striking. Except for some of the special bits like the boomerang-shaped LED DRLs that frame the new, glossy black bonnet grille and the projector bulbs within the headlamps, this could be mistaken for the Santro from a distance. Of course, on closer inspection, the larger dimensions and the more premium finish make it abundantly clear that this is the Nios. It is still very Grand i10-like in terms of its overall design lines, only now it sports sharper creases and more emphasis on its wheel arches and haunches.

 

The swept-back style headlamps and the chrome bits on the door handles and garnishes at the rear give it a more premium feel. The tailgate features sharper edges and new combination tail-lamps that sit on more pronounced haunches. The Nios also gets new fenders, a fresh set of 15-inch alloy rims and the addition of ‘Gi10’ branding on the C-pillar.

Cabin

The new Grand i10 Nios’ interior is nearly all new. Almost all the features have been replaced and the good bits from the current model have been carried forward, including the dedicated rear aircon vents. The dashboard is completely new with the addition of the large binnacle housing the analog-digital instrument cluster and the 20.25-cm touchscreen infotainment system being the most significant. A textured, pearlescent finish plastic panel for the crash pad and the redesigned aircon vents in the centre stack are other changes that are interesting. The top trim variants of the Nios will get a few premium additions like the wireless phone charging tray and auto climate control panel.

 

The dashboard in my test mule had a clean, symmetric layout, with a light grey and dull white colour theme. The multi-function, tiltable steering wheel features voice command controls and the infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The rear view camera/monitor used for reversing can also be left on for prolonged periods of time in case the driver wants to. The seat upholstery is also new with a textured woven cloth or a dual-tone leatherette-cloth combination being the options that are offered. The seats are comfortable and offer good thigh and back support. The most useful feature in the Nios’ cabin is the increase in space thanks to the longer wheelbase. But, I was surprised to find that the rear bench doesn’t get a 60:40 split fold option. Also the backrest is reclined at a slightly steep angle. Boot volume is 260 litres with the rear seat being used.

Performance

The new Grand i10 Nios gets the same 1.2-litre engines as the current model. The petrol 1.2 Kappa Dual VTVT engine is now BS VI-compliant and is offered with a five-speed manual and AMT (automated manual) transmission options. This is the first Hyundai model to be BS VI-compliant and it delivers a peak power of 83 PS and 114 Nm of peak torque. This four-cylinder has always been a refined, vibe-free engine and that continues in the Nios, given that cabin noise level is even better contained than before. The engine’s output is measured and linear at relatively low speeds, but on the highway it quickly runs out of breath when the needle crosses the 100 kmph mark. The Suzuki Swift certainly feels peppier than this motor in the Nios. The AMT gearbox doesn’t change low speed performance and ratios seem like they’ve been chosen for improved efficiency; manual gear selection helps squeeze out a better performance from the powertrain. The AMT gearbox’s refinement could have been better, though shifts are quite imperceptible and it is still responsive with quick kick-downs if you floor the throttle.

The AMT behaviour is quite similar in the diesel Nios too, which features the 1.2 U2 CRDi. This 1,186 cc engine puts out 75 PS of power and 190 Nm of torque, again matching that of the current Grand i10 and that of the Suzuki Swift. The diesel AMT in auto mode feels even more restrained, but responds quicker in manual gear selection mode. The five-speed manual gearbox clearly doesn’t suffer from any limitations when it comes to power delivery. This CRDi engine is a workhorse and though it is noisier in the cabin than the petrol, it still is quite refined. Manual shifts are crisp with clean slotting, and the clutch is light and progressive. The petrol engine is rated to offer a mileage of 20.5 kmpl and the diesel is ARAI certified to offer 26.2 kmpl. With some more improvements to the suspension set-up, the Nios’ ride quality is good; much like the current Grand i10, which was already one of the best in the lower-end of the B+ segment. However, the ride is more stable in the Nios, with a bit more steering feel thanks to a longer wheelbase and wider track. The Nios also gets safety features like ABS with EBD, dual front airbags and rear parking sensors as standard fitment across all four variants of the petrol and two variants of the diesel engine.

Bottom Line

By over-emphasising the rivalry, Hyundai may have unwittingly put the spotlight on one competitor. But, the Swift versus the new Grand i10 Nios is a difficult comparison with both having a few features that the other one doesn’t have. In terms of performance, the Swift would still feel sportier to drive, though the new Nios is much refined overall and improved in terms of cornering stability and handling. But, until the current gen Grand i10 and the Nios co-exist, the focus for Hyundai must be more on whether the higher price positioning for the latter and the lowered price for the former is a sustainable strategy.

However, Hyundai is still attempting to offer value in the new Nios by pricing the model lower than the Swift. Ex-showroom prices for the Grand i10 Nios start at ₹4.99 lakh for the petrol Nios Era and go up to ₹7.99 lakh for the diesel Nios Asta.

Published on September 06, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor