The small hatch should continue to be the urban car of choice for most Indian buyers given their practicality and versatility in the uniquely crowded conditions in our major cities. Small hatches are still clocking good numbers every month and still constituting the major chunk of the passenger car market.
Though the current obsession with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) has relegated small hatches to the figurative back benches of the news mill, their relevance hasn’t diminished. The Hyundai Grand i10 Nios has been a quiet performer in this segment, and its popularity has hinged on the brand attribute of offering more for less. This small car has packed more features and more value for its price, which should be the kind of combination that is needed to retain car buyers in a mature market. Last month, Hyundai Motor India launched the facelifted new 2023 Grand i10 Nios. Here are my first impressions after driving it earlier this week.
In terms of dimensions and overall design, the new Grand i10 Nios continues to be like the outgoing model. In fact, except for the possible minor changes to the fenders and the related change in dimensions, there is probably no other significant change in proportions or stance. All the body panels and their profiles remain the same, too. Yet, the 2023 Grand i10 Nios looks fresh and different thanks to some smart packaging. The most striking changes are at the front and rear. The front design is now focused on making the small car look wider and sportier. The front fender has been redesigned to accommodate a larger grille and air dam, with a vaguely spindle-shaped profile. The other element that is new is the tri-armed LED DRLs on either side of the grille. The headlamps themselves are of the same shape, with a minor change to the light configuration within. The tail lamps also sport a version of the tri-arm theme for the LED pilot lamps, while the housing remains the same as the outgoing model. But, there is the addition of a connecting bar that runs across from one tail-lamp to another, right along a crease that was already a feature in the outgoing Grand i10 Nios.
The rear fender has also been reprofiled and delivers some more of the width perception that the new tail-lamps are meant to. Both at the front and at the rear, the Hyundai logo now sports a two-dimensional matte-metallic aluminium finish. The side profile of the Grand i10 Nios remains nearly identical, with the only observable change being the new, unique 15-inch alloy wheels.
The outgoing Nios cabin was one of the most practical and appealing in the B-segment. The materials used for the dashboard and the features that it was offered with for a vehicle in the small hatch segment were the reasons for its popularity. The dimpled, pearlescent finish for the IP on the dash, the three-spoke steering wheel, the auto airconditioning control panel, and the centre stack orientation have been carried over with some minor changes.
The infotainment screen and the instrument cluster seem to merge into a single binnacle, and the latter sports analog dials instead of the digital unit. The multi-function steering now sports the same 2-D matte-finished Hyundai logo, and it also gets cruise control. Lots of storage options in the cabin, including big bottle holders in the door panels. The seats in the 2023 Grand i10 Nios have been given a different upholstery with a mild velour finish. The seat squabs are also slightly different and offer a more comfortable surface, though the bottom squab continues to be quite flat.
The big change in the cabin is in the safety department, with four airbags being part of the standard fitment now, including side airbags. Two side curtain airbags are an optional addition in the lower trim variants. Some of the other features, like push-button start, the larger 8-inch touchscreen, wireless charging, footwell lighting, etc., will be variant dependent. Similarly, other safety kits, including hill-start assist, electronic stability, tyre pressure monitoring, etc., are offered in the higher trim variants. The amount of space available in the cabin hasn’t changed, as is the 260-litres of luggage room in the boot.
Hyundai has rationalised the powertrain options for the Grand i10 Nios, possibly due to the prevailing sales trends or due to customer feedback. The diesel engine was pulled out due to low demand and worries over emission regulations. The one-litre turbo-petrol has also been pulled out now in the latest rationalisation move. So, what you get is the 4-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, but in three different combinations. My top-spec test mule featured a 5-speed manual transmission, but there is the option of choosing an automated manual transmission (AMT), and there is also the option of getting yourself the CNG variant if you want the advantages of lower running costs.
The 1.2L Kappa petrol engine delivers 83PS of peak power and 113.8Nm of peak torque for the manual and AMT transmission versions, and a lower tuned 69PS of power and 95.2Nm of torque in the CNG with a 5-speed manual gearbox version. The engine is now compliant with the stipulated RDE (real world emission) norms and is capable of handling E20 fuel (petrol doped with 20 per cent ethanol). There is not much change in the performance of this powertrain compared to the outgoing model. It is still not an easy-revving engine, though it can be relatively quick. The engine doesn’t get “buzzy,” and the added refinement from the 4-cylinder engine has always helped the Grand i10 Nios keep its differentiation going compared to competitors. It is certainly not the peppiest, through combined with the more responsive steering and the lighter clutch, it helped keep my test drive through the city a comfortable affair. The ride quality was good even in the outgoing model, and that continues with the suspension setting being firm without feeling rigid. It goes over speed breakers with ease, and there is a sense of calm even going over bad roads.
Prices for the new 2023 Grand i10 Nios start at ₹5.69 lakh and go up to ₹ 8.47 lakh. It does mean that you will be paying a small premium over the outgoing model’s prices, but there is a lot more kit that is standard fitment now, including more safety equipment.
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