The Xcent has been a part of our long-term test fleet for only about six months and we’ve been quite impressed by this small Hyundai sedan. In a way, it has changed our perception of Hyundai. We’ve had the Grand i10 diesel in our test fleet before and although very good, the diminutive 1.1-litre diesel meant it didn’t have enough grunt, especially with a full complement of passengers on board. So, it was a no-brainer to choose the larger Xcent in petrol guise as the next long-term Hyundai.
I’ve used this car for a month now, mostly in Mumbai’s cut-throat traffic and it has made for a soothing and relaxing companion. There are a number of reasons for this. For starters, the 1.2-litre petrol motor grants easy access to power at low speeds and thanks to this, the Xcent feels peppy and light on its feet. Also, the engine’s responsive nature let me, on occasion, amble along in a gear higher than usual, making my daily commutes even more stress free. What helps with driving in the city further is the minimal effort required to twirl the light steering, its small turning circle and hatchback-like dimensions. During those extended halts at traffic lights, the long equipment list kept me entertained; the 1GB on-board storage meant there was no need to connect my phone or carry any CDs for music. The only grouse I have with this Hyundai is that the occasional pothole or expansion joint at low-speed reveals the suspension’s underlying firmness. Even the suspension travel is quite limited and the car does tend to thud over big bumps.
And as able as it proved in the city, on the highway, the story wasn’t too different either. On the occasional trip to my farmhouse, the Xcent felt perfectly at home. The wide spread of torque provides ample power right up till 5,000rpm and even when fully loaded, the Xcent has enough grunt for overtaking or cruising. What also makes the Xcent a decent highway car is the refinement it offers. But above all, what stands out most about this car and makes it a great all-rounder is the progress Hyundai has made in the ride and handling department. Out on the highway, the Xcent felt planted and sure-footed, very unlike the Hyundais I have driven before. That said, it still didn’t ride flat. And this was more noticeable over rough sections where the vertical motion is more pronounced at the rear, making passengers there very uncomfortable.
When it joined the Autocar fleet, I wasn’t too keen on the Xcent. But boy, have I been proved wrong. Not only does it look balanced but is exceptionally well equipped and well priced too. The rear seats are good (my parents will vouch for this) and there’s enough boot space for two large suitcases. What further impressed me is the cabin’s build and quality which is top-notch and the best in the segment. Over the time we’ve had the Xcent, it’s not been too expensive to maintain either. The Xcent is a car which proved to be reliable, comfortable and importantly, it quietly impressed all who drove it. It will be sorely missed.