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Hyundai Grand i10 Nios review, road test

7th Jan 2020 6:00 am

This new generation of the Grand i10 has a lot to offer. But does it tick all the right boxes?

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  • Make : Hyundai
  • Model : Grand i10 Nios
We Like
User-friendly
Smooth, refined engines
Cabin quality
Features list
We Don't Like
Unexciting to drive
AMT not available in top-spec

The original Hyundai i10 was the 2008 Autocar Car of the Year and it lived up to its billing by winning over customers with its user-friendly, frugal and practical character. The second-generation model in the shape of the revolutionary Grand i10 was an even bigger success – it was far more comfortable, more premium and came with a diesel engine option. Now there’s a third-generation model, and it is bigger and comes with a longer name too. Dubbed the Grand i10 Nios, this all-new model builds on the strengths of its predecessors to keep the legacy going.

The new car carries forward familiar engine options – the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.2 diesel, with the former being BS6 compliant. What’s new is that, in addition to the 5-speed manual, you can now have an automated manual transmission (AMT) option on both engines. Prices for the petrol-manual range between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7.14 lakh, while those for the diesel-manual are between Rs 6.70 lakh and Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The petrol-AMT is priced Rs 53,000-60,000 higher than the corresponding manual variants, while there is just one diesel-AMT version on offer in the higher-mid spec, priced at Rs 7.85 lakh. With such a wide price range between variants, the Grand i10 Nios is aimed at attracting a broader base of customers than before. Can it?

After our first drive of this all-new Grand i10 Nios, we came away impressed and opined that the i10 has evolved into a more mature, a more premium and a more contemporary proposition. Now we’ve put all four variants through a full-blown road test to tell you in more detail how good this latest hatchback really is.

Hyundai Grand i10 Nios
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios

Rs 5.58 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)

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The Grand i10 Nios is now longer, wider and even comes with a 25mm longer wheelbase than the second-generation Grand i10. In fact, the body uses a high percentage (65 percent) of lighter yet more rigid Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) and High Strength Steel (HSS), and the overall kerb weight is 50-65kg lesser.

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As in all Hyundais, engage the handbrake and LED DRLs switch off.

The design is an evolution of the outgoing car and the silhouette remains largely unchanged, although almost all the body panels are new. The projector headlamps are sleeker and appear more premium, while the oversized cascading grille, with boomerang-shaped DRLs at each end, looks very distinctive. Gone are the clean lines on the bonnet and the sides, and in come some creases that add a bit more aggression and muscle to the styling. The blacked-out C-pillars give a floating roof-like appearance and the ‘Gi10’ logo embossed on it is a neat detail. The diamond-cut 15-inch alloys fill the wheel arches and appear nicely proportioned in relation to the car’s overall dimensions. The rear styling with new wraparound tail-lamps and distinct character lines on the boot bear some resemblance with the Tata Tiago and Ford Figo. Overall, the Nios is a smart-looking, contemporary hatchback.

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Blacked-out C-pillar panel lends a floating roof-like appearance.

We have seen Hyundai moving away from conventional interior designs with their recent launches, and the Nios is a fine example of this. Its dashboard design surely stands out, with a clean layout and a big 8.0-inch touchscreen taking the centre stage. An interesting design element is the piano-black panel that extends from the touchscreen to the instrument cluster, making it look like a big, single unit. The part-digital instrument cluster has an analogue tachometer that looks neat, and the 5.3-inch display provides plenty of information. The new steering wheel has all the telephone- and infotainment-related controls on the left spoke, but the right spoke is bare, reminding you of the features Hyundai could have included (like cruise control) but didn’t. The panel above the glovebox, which has a honeycomb pattern, feels premium and looks stylish. Overall, the quality of materials used in the cabin is quite impressive and the fit-finish levels are top-notch, like what we have come to expect from Hyundai.

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Several textured materials feel great to touch, and light colours brighten up the cabin. Fit-finish is still top-notch.

The tall stance liberates good vertical room and, with its light-grey theme, there’s a good sense of space inside the cabin. The seats are high-set, so getting in and out is a breeze, and visibility all round is very nice. The fabric seats are comfy and the cushioning is on point; although some might find the lumbar support a bit excessive. And those with wider body frames might find the front seats to be a bit narrow. Like the Grand i10, even the Nios misses out on adjustable head restraints for the front seats.

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Long seat base is angled, so finding an ideal driving position takes a while.

Get in the rear seats and the backrest is reclined at a comfortable angle and it is quite supportive. There’s ample legroom even for six-footers, and the long seat squab ensures decent under-thigh support as well. Headroom is generous, thanks to the high roof, and the large windows bring in plenty of light and make the cabin feel spacious. However, seating three people abreast would be a squeeze due to the narrow seat width. Passengers here get the comfort of a rear AC vent and a 12V charging socket, both of which are segment exclusives. And unlike the front seats, the rear seats get adjustable neck restraints.

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Impressive space, comfy backrest angle. Width makes it best for only two.

There are plenty of storage spaces in the cabin to keep knick-knacks, including a well-sized glovebox, above which sits a usable open cavity, cupholders, and space for a large smartphone in front of the gear console. Even the door pockets are quite accommodating and can hold one-litre bottles with ease. The Nios’ 260-litre boot is sufficient for a weekend getaway, and the low boot lip ensures that loading heavy cargo is quite easy.

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260-litre boot is average-sized. Rear seats don’t split in a 60:40 ratio.

Powering the petrol Nios is the familiar 1,197cc, four-cylinder unit that has now been made BS6 compliant. Hyundai claims to have improved thermal efficiency and made modifications to the variable valve timing, thereby reducing frictional losses to improve performance as well as refinement. However, Hyundai hasn’t been able to mask that peculiar thrum that filters into the cabin and the noticeable vibrations felt at the steering wheel.

Once on the move though, the engine feels extremely smooth and refined, and sound insulation is very good. What’s nice is that this petrol responds well to part throttle inputs and it will keep up with traffic as long as you aren’t in a hurry; so as a point A to B commuter, the Nios does its job rather competently. Power delivery is linear but isn’t seamless and has distinctive steps. The engine gets on the boil once the tacho needle goes past 2,500revs. From thereon, it pulls well until 4,500revs, and once past 5,000, it gets a second wind up to a little over 6,000rpm. Enthusiastic drivers will find themselves revving the guts out of this engine asking for more, but they aren’t going to get anything more than a modest set of performance figures.

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Both, petrol and diesel AMT get a tiptronic mode to change gears manually.

Although the Grand i10 Nios’ power and torque numbers are identical to the Maruti Swift’s, performance isn’t as exciting – its outright acceleration time from 0-100kph of 13.28sec is 1.3sec slower – and even through the gears the Nios isn’t as quick. The manual transmission is the familiar slick-shifting 5-speed unit paired with a light clutch, and this makes driving around a rather stress-free task. The other transmission is a 5-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), for which Hyundai has ditched the more expensive and inefficient 4-speed torque converter automatic that did duty on the Grand i10. Sure, it doesn’t quite match the smoothness of the torque converter, but as far as AMTs go, it is one of the best out there. The typical ‘head-nod’ while transitioning from first to second gear is still present, but after that, the shifts are smooth and less abrupt. The transmission’s crawl function is very progressive and it makes driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic smooth and easy. And this goes for hill starts too. The Nios rolls back a tad bit until the crawl kicks in and holds you in position. You also get a mode to change gears manually, but it’s best to leave it in auto mode to enjoy the benefits of this transmission.

At a time when manufacturers are steering away from diesels, Hyundai continues to offer its three-cylinder, U2 CRDi engine that makes 75hp and 190Nm of torque. There’s that familiar diesel clatter at idle, but it irons out once on the move, and overall refinement is so good, this is easily the smoothest motor when compared to its rivals like the Maruti Swift and Ford Figo. Even when cruising at a steady 100kph, the engine is spinning at 2,500rpm, with nothing but a faint thrum from the engine. So while it is an able cruiser, it’s in the city where this motor shines with almost negligible lag. Its strong bottom-end and mid-range, coupled with well-judged gear ratios, ensures that there’s ample performance on tap while ambling around town; and these also make it rather effortless to drive around without demanding constant gearshifts. The diesel’s powerband, however, tapers drastically beyond 3,500rpm, and the motor sounds coarse and feels strained in the last 1,200revs. This lack of top-end performance results in a lazy 0-100kph time of 14.54sec, which is over a second slower than the diesel Swift. The engine isn’t BS6 compliant just yet, and it is likely to be upgraded with the help of a LNT (Lean NOx Trap), DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) and new high-pressure injectors, amongst other modifications, to make it BS6 compliant in the coming months. Alongside the slick 5-speed manual, there’s now an automatic or AMT option, making this the first sub-Rs 10-lakh Hyundai to get a diesel-automatic combination. The shift characteristics of this unit are similar to the petrol-AMT’s, however the first few gear changes are slightly jerky, with a relatively longer pause between shifts. With a relaxed foot, it works perfectly fine, and it does a great job of combining diesel’s economy and the convenience of an automatic. Needless to say, should you rush the gearbox, you’d be disappointed as the diesel-AMT is the slowest of the range when it comes to outright performance.

The Nios features a standard suspension setup of independent MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a non-independent torsion beam setup at the rear. The suspension has an underlying firmness but it does a good job of ironing out road imperfections at slow speeds. Bump absorption is slightly better in the AMT versions, which come with 14-inch alloys and a slightly taller tyre profile than the manuals (15-inch wheels). Interestingly, the diesels, with their stiffer front end and heavier engine, have an edge over the petrols when it comes to ride comfort. At high speeds too, with a heavier kerb weight, the diesels feel a lot more planted and composed than the petrols.

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Handling is tidy and predictable, but steering still feels numb.

Like most Hyundais, the Nios’ steering is light and there’s no feel or feedback, although it does weigh up with speeds. Push it hard around corners and it understeers as the front end struggles for grip. Although this isn’t an engaging car to drive, its overall handling is rather neutral, like you’d expect from a family hatchback. The brakes are progressive and have a strong initial bite.

What matters to most buyers is fuel efficiency and that’s where the Nios excels. Despite being a BS6 unit, the petrol-manual Nios is more efficient than the petrol-manual Grand i10 in the city, and it delivers 13kpl, compared to the Grand i10’s 11.7kpl; its highway efficiency of 16.21kpl is identical to the Grand i10’s. The news only gets better with the petrol-AMT Nios which travels 13.76km in the city and 16.61km on the highway on a single litre of fuel. A reason for the AMT being so efficient is its clever shift logic, and its early upshifting nature – for example, the Nios is already in fifth gear at 45kph. The diesel-manual, however, is the most impressive in the range, delivering 14.90kpl in the city and 19.64kpl on the highway. Following it closely is the AMT which achieved 14.87kpl in the city and 19.36kpl on the highway.

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It’s longer and wider than the Grand i10; has a longer wheelbase too.

New 8.0-inch touchscreen is slick and easy to use. What’s nice is that there are buttons on either side of the screen for quick access to the various menus. Unlike the outgoing Grand i10, there’s no inbuilt satellite navigation system on offer, but it does get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and they include navigation apps, among other things. The sound system is tuned by Arkamys and it sounds nice in isolation. The sound quality, however, isn’t as crisp as some of its rivals. 

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Like all Hyundais, the Nios is very well equipped, and the top two variants – Asta and Sportz – are available with kit like an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an Arkamys-tuned sound system, a rear-view camera, alloy wheels, projector headlamps and fog lamps, power-folding mirrors and more.

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Rear-view camera display is clear, although the guidelines don’t turn with the steering wheel.

For the time being, the top-spec Asta variant is reserved for the manual variants only. So these get added noteworthy kit like larger 15-inch alloys, keyless entry and go, wireless charging, a cooled glovebox, and rear wiper and washer. While all these are good to have, it’s the rear wiper and washer that is essential and should have been available with the AMTs as well.

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Top-spec’s larger wheels result in a firmer ride than the 14-inch versions.

There’s a reason why the Grand i10 sold in such high numbers in India. It had almost everything that buyers were looking for – ease of driving, smooth and refined engines, high-quality interiors and a long features list – and this all-new generation, the Grand i10 Nios, only builds on these existing strengths. The Nios’ interiors are even more polished and premium, and its features list is even more expansive. Both its engines are very refined and the petrol unit is now BS6-compliant. When it comes to real-world fuel efficiency, the Nios passes with flying colours. The option of a manual and an AMT with either engine further widens its appeal, and it is still very user-friendly thanks to its light controls, agreeable cabin ergonomics, and good all-round visibility. Hyundai’s widespread support network will only work as a catalyst for its sales. It might not be engaging to drive, and a top-spec AMT variant is sorely missed in the range, however, look at it in the broader light, and you’ll see the Nios is so well packaged and its fundamentals are so sorted, it is as good as a city-friendly, family hatchback can be.

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The Nios’ sophisticated, smooth and effortless character makes it a well-rounded hatchback.

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 5.00-7.14 lakh Rs 6.37-6.98 lakh Rs 6.70-7.99 lakh Rs 7.85 lakh
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 7.14 lakh Rs 6.98 lakh Rs 7.99 lakh Rs 7.85 lakh
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol Petrol Diesel Diesel
Engine Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Type 4 cyl 4 cyl 3 cyl 3 cyl
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1197cc 1197cc 1186cc 1186cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 71.0/75.6mm 71.0/75.6mm 77.2/84.5mm 77.2/84.5mm
Compression Ratio 10.5:1 10.5:1 16.0:1 16.0:1
Valve Train 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 83hp at 6000rpm 83hp at 6000rpm 75hp at 4000rpm 75hp at 4000rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 114Nm at 4000rpm 114Nm at 4000rpm 190Nm at 1750-2250rpm 190Nm at 1750-2250rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 87.36hp per tonne 87.00hp per tonne 72.95hp per tonne 72.39hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 120.00Nm per tonne 119.49Nm per tonne 184.82Nm per tonne 183.39Nm per tonne
Specific Output (hp/litre) 69.34hp per litre 69.34hp per litre 63.23hp per litre 63.23hp per litre
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Drive Layout Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Manual AMT Manual AMT
No of Gears 5 5 5 5
1st Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 3.545/7.205 - 3.615/8.205 -
2nd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.895/13.479 - 1.955/15.172 -
3rd Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 1.269/20.129 - 1.286/23.065 -
4th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.882/28.961 - 0.933/31.792 -
5th Ratio/kph per 1000 rpm 0.744/34.333 - 0.727/40.801 -
Final Drive Ratio 4.235:1 - 3.647:1 -
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 26.41m, 2.53s 26.41m, 2.53s 26.41m, 2.53s 26.41m, 2.53s
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 13kpl 13.76kpl 14.90kpl 14.87kpl
Highway (kpl) 16.21kpl 16.61kpl 19.64kpl 19.36kpl
Tank size (lts) 37 litres 37 litres 37 litres 37 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.52s 0.76s 0.52s 0.84s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.14s 1.68s 1.09s 1.81s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 2.16s 2.53s 1.76s 2.66s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 3.02s 3.35s 2.98s 4.42s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 4.11s 5.16s 3.93s 5.51s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 5.75s 6.55s 5.16s 6.73s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 7.20s 7.96s 7.61s 9.09s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 8.79s 9.58s 9.35s 10.85s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 10.78s 12.41s 11.48s 13.07s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 13.28s 14.75s 14.54s 16.15s
0 - 110 kph (sec) 15.89s - 17.93s 20.57s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 19.06s - 21.98s 24.73s
0 - 130 kph (sec) 23.31s - - 29.84s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 29.60s - - 37.47s
1/4 mile (sec) 19.13s - 19.41s 20.81s
20-80kph (sec) 14.00s 8.09s 12.40s 9.08s
40-100kph (sec) 22.44s 10.88s 14.02s 12.28s
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
1st (kph @rpm) 46kph 6600rpm - 41kph 5000rpm -
2nd (kph @rpm) 88kph 6600rpm - 72kph 4700rpm -
3rd (kph @rpm) 134kph 6600rpm - 106kph 4600rpm -
4th (kph @rpm) 155kph 5250rpm - 140kph 4400rpm -
5th (kph @rpm) 157kph 4500rpm - 157kph 3900rpm -
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Idle (dB) 38.3dB 38.3dB 44.3dB 44.3dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 59dB 59dB 57.3dB 57.3dB
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 76dB 76dB 81dB 81dB
50 kph AC off (dB) 73dB 73dB 73.1dB 73.1dB
80 kph AC off (dB) 75dB 75dB 77.2dB 77.2dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Construction Four-door hatchback, monocoque Four-door hatchback, monocoque Four-door hatchback, monocoque Four-door hatchback, monocoque
Weight (kg) 950 kg 954 kg 1028 kg 1036 kg
Front Tyre 175/60 R15 165/70 R14 175/60 R15 165/70 R14
Rear Tyre 175/60 R15 165/70 R14 175/60 R15 165/70 R14
Spare Tyre 165/70 R14 165/70 R14 165/70 R14 165/70 R14
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs Non-independent, torsion beam, coil springs
STEERING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric Electric Electric Electric
Turning Circle Diameter (mts) 9.6m 9.6m 9.6m 9.6m
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Discs Discs Discs Discs
Rear Drums Drums Drums Drums
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length 3805mm 3805mm 3805mm 3805mm
Width (mm) 1680mm 1680mm 1680mm 1680mm
Height 1520mm 1520mm 1520mm 1520mm
Wheel base 2450mm 2450mm 2450mm 2450mm
Front Track (mm) 1475mm 1475mm 1475mm 1475mm
Rear Track (mm) 1491mm 1491mm 1491mm 1491mm
Rear Interior Width (mm) 1270mm 1270mm 1270mm 1270mm
Ground Clearance (mm) NA NA NA NA
Boot Capacity (Lts) 260 litres 260 litres 260 litres 260 litres
INTERIOR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Cruise control NA NA NA NA
Touchscreen Available Available Available Available
Wireless phone charging Available Available Available Available
Keyless go Available Available Available Available
EXTERIOR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Rims Alloy Wheels Alloy Wheels Alloy Wheels Alloy Wheels
Headlamp type LED LED LED LED
Rear wiper and washer Available NA Available NA
Rear parking sensors Available Available Available Available
Parking camera Available Available Available Available
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios review, road test
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