If there's one company that has identified what works for the Indian masses, it's Hyundai. Right from the original Santro back in the day, which caused severe issues for the equally fantastic, but overpriced, Zen, to the Creta now, which tops the list of the buyers in that segment, Hyundai seems to have always hit the nail on its head with its products.
With the NIOS Turbo, however, it's treading on to an uncharted territory—one where the VW Polo TSI and even the now-discontinued FIATs still occupy the hearts of the enthusiasts. But, is Hyundai even thinking of catering to that miniscule population? Or is the Grand i10 NIOS Turbo there for people who want everything that a Hyundai offers (read: "best in segment features", "easy-to-drive", etc.) with a bit more oomph under the bonnet? This Grand i10 NIOS Turbo review will answer those questions, and of course the other stuff like space, features, fuel economy (or "mileage" like its called by many), performance, NVH, brakes, suspension, etc., will be covered too.
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Exterior Design and Style
Regular readers would know that I don't wax eloquent about the design of a vehicle. I believe that if you can read this font, then you can definitely see the vehicle, and also form an opinion on its looks. However, if you really want to know what I think of the Grand i10's design in general, then I would just say that the word "sedate" describes it perfectly.
That said, and despite being a fan of subtlety, I was a bit disappointed initially that, other than the Turbo badging at the front and rear, Hyundai didn't make any efforts to make this car stand out a bit, especially when they could do it with the Venue Sport trim.
On second thoughts though, I realized that while on the one hand it (the lack of differentiation) will please those who hate attention, on the other hand it will provide an empty canvas for folks, who listen to Shiny Disco Balls at full volume, to go all out with their creativity (read: "side skirts", "bigger wheels", etc.).
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Interior, Features, and Ergonomics
Open the door and, thankfully, it's not the same story inside. There's just the right amount of splash and dash of red to let you know that it's indeed a special edition you're about to drive. Sit inside, close the door, and the thunk is surprisingly satisfying for a car that's not German.
The quality of the cabin is quite nice, and I just love the beautifully thought out ergonomics of this car! Everything is within half an arm's reach, and you never have to hunt for any button/switch/latch/stalk. The word "intuitive" has become a cliche in automotive journalism, but its presence is indispensable here as it accurately describes how all controls feel inside this vehicle.
And this car had the quickest connecting Android Auto of all the cars I have reviewed in the past fortnight! Mind you, this is the only sub-ten-lakh-rupee car from that lot. In fact, it connected so quickly that it was spooky. I am not exaggerating it. I won't recommend being all alone in this car...
The feature list is as comprehensive as it gets, including climate control, height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, 20.25 cm touchscreen, four speakers, wireless charging (if your phone has that feature; mine doesn't), etc., and you may check the complete list in the e-brochure on Hyundai's website.
As far as I am concerned, I just need effective air-conditioning in my car, and this one's unit is astounding! September in Delhi brings the worst combination of heat and humidity, but this Hyundai's AC chills, and then chills some more. Plus, it's quiet. A big thumbs up to Hyundai for this. There are vents for the rear passengers as well, and though I couldn't get a chance to thoroughly check the cooling at the rear (got the car for only three hours), I don't think anyone anywhere in India would find it lacking.
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Seating Comfort, Storage Space, and Boot Space
The seats are comfortable too, and I was able to request a 5'9" gentleman to sit at the rear and tell me about how comfortable or uncomfortable he felt. He said that he was comfortable indeed, and that there's no dearth of headroom and kneeroom either. I could see that as well, of course. He even found the underthigh support to be quite satisfactory, and added that the recline angle is perfect too. However, he was unsure of how long journeys with those fixed headrests all around will pan out.
Another thing that Hyundai always gets right is the amount and size of storage spaces. I am happy to report that all four doors can hold one-liter water bottles each, and there's still space left for a few other assorted items. The glovebox is also quite accommodating, and there's an open shelf above it where I stored my wallet. It didn't fall.
I later realized that I could have utilized the slot next to the handbrake lever. There are two cupholders ahead of it too.
Overall, I don't think there's another car in this segment that offers more usable storage spaces. Speaking of which, even the boot space would meet most families' needs.
I will have to add here that it's the Maruti Suzuki Swift that offers more boot space.
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Performance, Ride Quality, and Handling
"All motor, no tuning issues", Brian O'Conner had said about the GT3 RS in Fast Five. And though this is not a naturally aspirated engine we're talking about, he would have said the same about the NIOS Turbo had Fast Five been made in India with severe budget constraints. The turbocharger in this car doesn't take long to spool, and even though you get that kick only around 2,000 rpm, the car's not dead below it.
For example, while crossing a speed breaker in 2nd gear, you will have to shift down to 1st only if the revs drop below one thousand. Otherwise, the car pulls cleanly in 2nd gear without waiting for Covid to get over. In fact, that's how it behaves in almost every gear—not frustrating between 1,000–2,000 rpm, and a rocket from 2,000–3,000 rpm onwards! It will do the 0-100 kmph sprint in under ten seconds (making it quicker than the VW Polo TSI) and cross 160 kmph without much effort, not that you should be doing the latter anyway. The former is definitely recommended, especially if you plan to replace the stock tyres at the earliest.
And replace them you sure would as they aren't the grippiest tyres around. They're fine in a straight line and I was impressed that the car tracked straight under panic braking from 80 km/h, but that's more due to ESP, EBD, and ABS at play than the grip offered by the stock tyres. In fact, I reckon the stopping distance to be reduced with grippier rubber.
These tyres protest even at the slight sight of a high speed corner. Forget a corner, even high speed directional changes are scary. Of course, the light steering and soft suspension (soft for a sporty hatch) are culprits too, but the tyres give away a lot earlier than expected. It won't matter much to the buyers of this car, but I'll talk about that in the verdict. The ride quality is near perfect though, thanks to the compromise on handling. Please note that it's not a bad handling car; no, not at all. It's just that it simply doesn't handle the way the best hot hatches in India handle. But then, each of those cars are actually bad in a few parameters as compared to this Hyundai.
Since you must know this turbocharged i10's horsepower and torque figures, here they are: 100 PS at 6,000 rpm and 172 Nm at 1,500–4,000 rpm.
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Fuel Efficiency and other bits
You can't expect me to do a tankful to tankful fuel efficiency test in three hours, but I shall still stick my neck out and say that you may certainly expect around 12-13 kmpl in city and 15-16 kmpl on highways. I almost forgot to tell you that the clutch is light and the gearshift quality is also slick. The NVH (Noise, Vibrations, and Harshness) levels are brilliant as well.
2020 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOS Turbo Review: Verdict
I'll keep it short. The buyers of this car won't ever do a trackday. It's another matter altogether that even 98 per cent of all Polo TSI and Abarth Punto owners would never go near a track, but it's a given with this Hyundai. The Korean company knows it, and that's why it has not deviated much from its core traits which the masses have come to love.
Therefore, like almost every other Hyundai, even the Grand i10 NIOS Turbo is loaded with features; has a steering wheel that can be handled by your pinky, and doesn't have a firm ride quality. Plus, its air-conditioning is more chilling than The Exorcist, and the price (Rs 7.7 lakh, ex-showroom, New Delhi) makes the most unrealistic investment plans look pale in comparison. For reference, the VW Polo TSI comes in two variants: the lower spec costs Rs 8.08 lakh whereas the top-end GT costs a whopping 9.67 lakh! Most importantly, the NIOS is quicker than the Polo.
That's the point Hyundai wanted to make, I guess, and they've succeeded—no guesses needed there. They could have named it the EgoBoost engine, but I again realize that they wanted to keep it subtle.
Either way, it's a fast car, and also the least expensive turbocharged petrol 100 PS car you can buy right now in India. Hyundai, now how about an i20 special edition inspired by your WRC i20? Please?