Hyundai’s first compact sedan, the Xcent, has just joined the Autocar fleet. Although a new entrant to our long-term family, it didn’t take too much time for us to get used to, owing to the fact that it’s come in to replace our faithful old Grand i10, its hatchback counterpart.
The similarity to the smaller car is not just on the outside, but also as you get into the driver’s seat. The dashboard is pretty much identical, but as I went to turn on the AC, I remembered that the one feature that sets the sedan apart is automatic climate control system. Speaking of the air-con, like the Grand i10, there’s a separate set of vents for the rear passengers — it’s a class-first feature, and Hyundai has done well to include it. That said, as we found with the hatch, passengers in the back did complain that it didn’t seem to be very effective, and that it only infringed on legroom.
But there’s plenty to like about this Hyundai — it’s easy to get to a decent driving position by adjusting the seat and steering height, and the cabin is a pleasant place owing to the dual-tone upholstery scheme. The seat is also supportive and comfortable, although I haven’t yet taken it for a long highway drive yet.
What I have done is given it a daily city grind. Leaving work for home throws me in the thick of Mumbai’s rush hour traffic, and this is where this urban sedan shines. The compact dimensions make it easy to navigate through the worst traffic snarls and the light steering makes easy work of all this manoeuvring. And every time I was stuck in standstill traffic, there was the audio player to keep me entertained. Now this player has 1GB of onboard storage, Bluetooth, USB and aux connectivity; the onboard memory, in particular, is very handy on those days when you suddenly realise you’ve left all your other media behind. Equipment levels, in usual Hyundai fashion, are very good. There’s a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and go, auto folding mirrors, steering mounted controls and an electrochromic rear-view mirror — enough to shame some executive sedans.
The powerplant was one of the biggest issues with our Grand i10 long-termer; the 70bhp 1.1-litre U2 diesel engine got the job done, but lacked outright punch. No such complaints on our Xcent though, as it is the petrol version. The 1.2-litre Kappa2 motor is free revving and makes a decent 81.8bhp. Though, while it is smooth, refined and peppy enough, the power delivery can be a bit jerky in stop-go traffic.
These unpredictable movements made another thing very apparent — the front headrests are fixed, which may not protect you from whiplash in case of a collision. The rear seat thankfully does have adjustable headrests. The other thing my rather outspoken rear seat passengers were happy about, was the legroom on offer. They were less convinced about having to sit three abreast in the back thanks to the narrow cabin; it’s best for just two. Complaints were also made about the short seat base and angle of the seat back recline, which makes the seating posture a tad awkward and slightly taxing over time. But that doesn’t take away from the fact this is a practical car. There’s plenty of storage spaces on offer — there are two cupholders integrated into the rear armrest, in addition to the two placed up front and the 1-litre bottle holders on each of the doors. There’s also a spacious and cooled glovebox. And it’s not just the cabin — luggage fits in easily too, into the large, 407-litre boot.
So, the Hyundai Xcent has had a sweet start to its innings at Autocar, with the pros outweighing the cons, at least for now.
Hyundai Xcent 1.2 SX (O) M/T
Price Rs 7.78 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy 13.9kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs None