After many teasers, spy shots and leaks, Hyundai Motor India has finally launched the much-awaited budget hatchback, the all-new Santro, with prices ranging between Rs 389,900 and Rs 564,900 (ex-showroom, pan India). The new Santro is available in five trims – D-Lite, Era (Rs 424,900), Magna (Rs 457,900), Sportz (Rs 499,900) and Asta (Rs 545,900), Sports (CNG) at Rs 564,900.
A breakthrough model can change the fortunes of any carmaker and what better example than the Hyundai Santro, the car which helped the Korean giant enter the Indian market and make a name for itself, in an otherwise monopolistic scenario two decades ago in 1998.
Ever since, the company has not looked back and been the sole foreign automotive player to crack the Indian car market, going on to become the No. 2 carmaker in the passenger vehicle space. The company is now on the fast track: in FY2018 it sold 536,241 units (+5.21%) in the domestic market and exported 153,942 units (-7.89%), making it the second largest exporter of cars from the country after Ford India.
The Santro thus remains an iconic model for the company, with the car holding a special place in the hearts of the Indian public, with Hyundai introducing two generations of the hatchback, before finally discontinuing it in 2015 and letting it go for more contemporary models in its portfolio. The Santro cumulatively went home to 1.32 million buyers in the domestic market, with Hyundai also exporting over half a million units during its 16-year stint between 1998 and 2014.
After a hiatus of nearly four years, the company has finally re-introduced the model in a completely new avatar (codenamed AH2 internally), resurrecting the nameplate and reinvigorating many an emotion attached with the family hatchback.
Past perfect, present sense
The third-generation Hyundai Santro gets styling cues which are reminiscent of the outgoing car, while still adopting the modern design language of the Hyundai stable. The car gets a wide hexagonal cascade grille upfront in the bumper, with fog-lamp housings embedded on the top at either end. The headlamps come inspired from elder sibling the i10, and the bonnet remains clean with the wiper washers neatly concealed.
It is from the side profile that the new Santro strikes some resemblance to its predecessor, with the flap-type door handles and the broad C-pillar instantly giving away its lineage. The car comes equipped with 14-inch steel rims across variants, with no option of alloy wheels on any of the trims. The rear culminates into an inset boot lid, and tail-lamps with LED treatment for the park- and brake-lamps.
In terms of dimensions, the Santro measures 3,610mm in length, 1,645mm in width and 1,560mm in height. With a 2,400mm wheelbase, the car offers ample room on the inside, and also boasts some segment-first features such as rear AC vents and a 7,0-inch touch screen infotainment system on its top-spec Asta trim with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link functionalities on offer.
Speaking at the launch in New Delhi, YK Koo, managing director, Hyundai Motor India, said, “The Santro is an iconic model and has revolutionalised the Indian market in the real sense by offering innovative technologies pertaining to more comfort, performance and convenience. In the new avatar, the Santro will offer more safety as well as connected features.”
Hyundai has developed the new Santro with a net investment of US$ 100 million spread over three years, and the car will be made in India and also exported to other emerging markets from India. With a first-of-its-kind complete online booking concept, which commenced on October 8, Hyundai has already garnered over 23,000 bookings for the car.
Based on the new and lightweight K1 platform with 63 percent composition of advanced high strength steel and high strength steel, the new Santro is homologated for frontal, side, and pedestrian-impact crash tests. The car comes with driver airbag, ABS and EBD and rear parking sensors as standard safety kit across variants.
According to Sangyup Lee, head of styling, Hyundai Motor Corporation, “The design concept for the Santro was based on the practicality requirements of the Indian family buyer with space, comfort and convenience taking priority.”
The car has been styled by collaborative work of designers at six of Hyundai's design centres globally - South Korea, Germany, India, China, Japan and the US.
Hyundai joins the AMT bandwagon
Underneath the hood, the hatchback comes powered by a 1.1-litre four-cylinder Epsilon petrol motor, with 69bhp of power on tap. While a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, Hyundai is also offering an in-house-developed, electronically actuated, five-speed AMT to rival Maruti’s Wagon R and Celerio, both of which offer a hydraulically-actuated Magneti Marrelli-sourced AMT unit. The company is also offering the option of CNG in its manual variants, again, looking at the popularity of these fuel types in competitors’ cars among buyers in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai. The factory-fitted CNG kit will offer a filling nozzle located inside the petrol fuel-lid and will offer 14 percent lower power output at 59bhp, due to running on the dry fuel.
On the safety front, additional features also include seatbelt reminders, pre-tensioners and a passenger airbag to safeguard the cabin occupants in case of a crash.
Hyundai has introduced the car in five variants, with the base Dlite skipping on air-conditioning, while still getting a driver airbag. While the mid-spec Magna gets most of the comfort oriented features, the Sportz gets steering-mounted controls and full wheel caps as add-ons. The AMT and CNG options are available in mid-spec Magna and Sportz trims.
The new Hyundai Santro will be available in seven colour options with dual tone being and black as the standard cabin theme. Hyundai will offer a three-year 100,000km warranty as standard on the product and will also offer a door-step service facility to customers in key metro cities.
Hyundai Motor India is targeting sales of 8,000 to 9,000 units a month in the domestic market, which makes up 30 percent in the mid-compact car segment that sells 20,000 units a month. Adding to this number will be exports, which will begin from next month.
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