In a few days’ time the 2014 FIFA World Cup gets underway in Brazil and right now in South Africa, Hyundai is launching the Grand version of its i10. Four years ago in South Africa, Hyundai was the vehicle sponsor when our country hosted the world’s soccer show piece, and if you speak to the Korean company’s executives today, they will tell you that it was the best bit of brand awareness marketing they’ve ever done here, harking way back to Hyundai’s SA debut in the mid-1990s.
Value for money offeringThe entry-level market segment of new cars is set to keep on growing here as long as fuel prices remain under such pressure. In other words, A-segment appeal is likely to broaden and still include first-time owners, but woo a big chunk of The Establishment away from the likes of three-box sedans.
Yet, when buying down, these customers still want all the comfort accoutrements that they’ve been used to when enjoying a more sophisticated but thirstier example of personal mobility. This is where the Hyundai Grand i10 comes into its own. The exterior styling has a nod to funkiness while leaning towards conservatism, while the interior has a grown-up feel to it that is remarkable in a car costing just under R140 000.
Fuel consumptionFuel economy has been in the news lately regarding manufacturers’ claims and what car owners are actually achieving out there in the real world. It is interesting to note on the Hyundai Grand i10’s spec sheet that there's a claim of an overall consumption of 5.9 litres/100 km. Yet the overall consumption on the trip read-out for “our” car (scheduled to be used on the press launch) read 5.8 litres/100!
Our test drive included some urban commuting as well as highway driving, and what we noticed with the Hyundai Grand i10 is that the overall gearing of the car is perfectly pitched at what South African’s are likely to encounter in real-world conditions.
Gearbox and performanceThe manual transmission version of the Hyundai Grand i10 ( a four-speed auto is available for those who feel clutch and gear change action is getting too much in clogged freeway snarl-ups) is a five-speeder, and at 120 km/h the little 1 248 cc naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine is spinning at around the 3 500 rpm mark.
This rev-range is perfectly pitched to enable the Grand i10 to ascend most highway hills in top gear, and on a light throttle opening at the speed limit. Around town, there is plenty of urge available for quick acceleration away from the traffic lights, again not using full throttle. If you do mash pedal to the metal, it will sprint to 100 km/h in just under 13 seconds (at sea level) and top out at just under 170 km/h.
Talking of gear change action, the shift on the Grand i10 was a little notchy, and the clutch action on the car we tried was weirdly light. This light action resulted in no feel, making smooth getaways a chore that required lots of concentration.
Performance and build qualityNevertheless, performance is more than adequate. More important, perhaps, is the feeling of overall maturity and quality that the Koreans have injected into the body shell of the Hyundai Grand i10. The dashboard and door capping materials used are of a higher perceived quality levels than what you are likely to expect in a car in this price range. Yes, the overall layout still tends to lean towards the conservative side of the spectrum, but there’s no denying the feeling of well-being that comes with noticing high-end levels of panel fit.
Upholstery on our launch-preview model was of a particularly rugged, ribbed fabric material, quite smart, with a shiny finish. But the equipment levels on the Grand are very good in both models launched, these being the base-line Motion model and the slightly better-equipped Fluid model.
Features and practicalityInterestingly, the Motion model comes complete with all the must-have features in this ever more demanding market segment. Thus there is standard air-conditioning, electric window operation, a standard RCD radio with CD and MP3 compatibility, an on-board driving-function computer and central locking. The Fluid model gets rear-window electric operation, remote wing mirror adjustment, heated wing mirrors, and one-touch auto-down window operation.
All Hyundai Grand i10 models come with alloy 14-inch wheels with (cheap to replace) 165/65 by 14 rubber, and while the disc brakes on the front wheels are still complimented by drum brakes on the rear wheels, ABS braking is standard across the range, along with EBD. Rear seat accommodation is adequate for large adults, but the boot space is only moderately good for a car in this bracket, measuring 256 litres.
Conclusion and summaryWell, the Grand version of Hyundai’s entry-level A-segment car could well turn out to be a marketing masterstroke of similar proportions. While Hyundai Motor SA will retain the original i10 as an ultimate entry version of the car, at least for the foreseeable future, Cars.co.za’s sneak preview of the i10 prior to launch has convinced us that this car could be a game-changer for the segment overall, as well as Hyundai.
Hyundai Grand i10 Price in South AfricaRegards the ownership experience, Hyundai offers its impressive five year/150 000 km warranty as part of the R139 900 price, while service intervals are 15 000 km. But the biggest ownership-experience factor is likely to be the level of understated sophistication you’ll enjoy with this car.
Hyundai Grand i10 Quick Specs
|Engine||1.2-litre four cylinder petrol|
|0-100km/h||13 seconds (estimate)|
|Fuel economy||5.9 l/100km (claimed)|
We like: . Affordable . Generous specification . Economical
We dislike: . Light clutch and notchy gearshift action