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Hyundai Santro First Drive Review

It was the WagonR that debuted the ‘tall boy’ design in the country almost two decades ago. Soon to join the fray, the Hyundai Santro was the Korean manufacturer’s bid to take on the WagonR. In a new market, hitting success with the first product, that’s what made Hyundai the second-largest carmaker in the Indian market. Despite the unconventional design, the Santro has lauded thanks to dollops of practicality, ease of driving and spot-on ergonomics. Well, 2 decades later and Hyundai has launched once popular and best-selling Santro in an all-new Avatar. Now, while the previous-generation Santro was a popular offering from the Korean automaker in the B-segment, the new Santro now has to face a fierce battle from the WagonR and the Tiago. We had a chance to test it out for you. Our Hyundai Santro review further reveals…

Starting off with the design, the new Santro looks quite impressive. It gets a massive cascading grille at the front that makes a massive first impression. The big plastic insert also houses the fog lamps, which are placed unconventionally higher, and in my opinion, they look overdone. The sweptback headlamps remind of the Grand i10, and if you were to see the Santro without that huge grille, you could certainly mistake it for the Grand. In profile, the silly indent that runs across the front fender looks overdone and the lift-back door handles, well, they look quite dated. The rear end is subtle and you can notice the rear-view camera and parking sensors making their presence in terms of equipment. Overall, despite having an imposing front end, the Santro looks amazing and snazzy, to say the least.

Step inside, and the first impressions ought to be that the interior, in typical Hyundai fashion, looks and feels from a segment above. And then again, the Santro is loaded to the brim with segment-first features. There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay support and a reverse-parking camera. You also get steering mounted audio controls and a conventional tachometer. As in the case of safety, ABS with EBD and a driver-side airbag is standard across the range, while only the top-end trim gets dual airbags. The fit-and-finish is simply immaculate and there is more than adequate at the front as well as the rear. Six of the seven colours come with a dual-tone layout for the interior, while the Diana Green shade comes with an all-black layout accompanied by funky neon highlights all over the place.

The Santro is powered by a 1.1-litre four-cylinder Epsilon engine that can be paired to a 5-speed manual or an AMT. Behind the wheel, we were completely impressed with the car’s driveability in our Santro review. That said, the steering wheel, just like any new age Hyundai offers immense feel and feedback. Despite the fact it is an electronic-assist unit, it transmits information and does away with the synthetic feel that reminds you of the previous-generation Hyundais. Out on the tarmac, we got to test out the manual as well as the AMT. While the manual is slick and a delight to operate, it’s the AMT that left us completely surprised and dare I say that the Santro feels like an AMT. You see, the AMT transmission in the Santro electric actuator in spite of a hydraulic actuator, which done wonders for the automated Santro. The upshifts are smooth and the downshifts are completely phenomenal, to say the least.

During our Santro review, the car felt well planted throughout our course on the smooth roads from Bhubaneshwar to Konark. On some really bad roads, the ride quality was very good and the Santro masked through bad undulations like no one’s business. Combined that with the amazing steering, and the Santro proves to be a rather engaging car to drive. To sum it up, the new Santro certainly ticks all the boxes you would expect from a B-segment hatch. Sure, the design is a little unconventional, but it worked for the original Santro as well. The engine is refined and suits the car well, and then there’s the spot-on ride quality and amazing steering feel that makes the Santro a boon to drive. To read our full verdict and the extensive Hyundai Santro review, be sure to tune in to autoX.

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Ayush KhannaAyush Khanna
Joined: September 23rd, 2019
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