It's adios for the Santro. Hyundai will discontinue the production of the iconic hatchback at its Tamil Nadu plant. Launched first in 1998, the first-gen model was on sale till 2014. Again four years after that, Hyundai brought back the Santro as an Eon replacement.
Pricey but key features missing
Hyundai reintroduced the Santro in 2018 at a starting price of around Rs 390,000, going upto Rs 550,000 for the top variant. Though entry-variant of the Santro was pricey, it lacked even a factory-fitted AC. Also, the Santro’s higher variants were priced above the now-discontinued Grand i10, which was more spacious and came with a more powerful1.2-litre engine.
At launch, though the Santro had fresh design cues and was even sold with a CNG option for its 1.1-litre petrol engine, the car still lacked a few basic features like intermittent windshield wipers in all variants.
Hyundai even looked at repositioning Santro’s lower variants in 2019 to take on the entry-level hatchback segment that includes stalwarts like the Alto and also the 800cc Renault Kwid. But the advent of the stringent BS VI norms resulted in higher input costs translating into even higher retail prices.
Sales for the Santro peaked initially, but since then it has mostly been on a downslide and customer interest has been dwindling away from Hyundai’s entry-level offering. Also, the shifting consumer trend towards SUVs or SUV-like high-riding vehicles could be one of the reasons for the Santro’s demise. Maruti Suzuki gauged this trend much earlier and replaced its slow-selling Alto K10 with the S-Presso high-riding hatchback with SUV-like styling cues. Sales of the S-Presso stood at around 67,000 units in FY22, which averages to around 5,500 units a month. Meanwhile, Santro's sales for FY22 averaged at just around 2,000 units.
Also, the recent announcement by the government on the mandatory fitment of six-airbag could be another nail in the coffin as Hyundai will have to re-engineer the car to meet the requirments and the additional costs would simply not justify the car’s positioning.
Additionally, with the upcoming Stage II of BS VI emission norms, upgrading the 1.1-litre engine, which is only available on the Santro, won’t be financially justifiable.
Hyundai's game plan
Thanks to the demise of the Santro, the Grand i10 Nios will be Hyundai’s entry-level model for India for now. The hatchback starts at Rs 539,000 (ex-showroom). There are talks of Hyundai introducing a micro-SUV under the Venue (also due for a facelift soon), which, with its high riding character, could be the future Santro of SUVs.
Hyundai reveals new Santro