It's less than a year since Hyundai launched the i10 and the Korean company has already given its new baby its first serious upgrade – a brand-new engine. In fact, the ‘Kappa’ engine is the latest Hyundai motor that will power not just the i10 but the upcoming i20 or next-gen Getz as well. The Kappa has been developed to meet the latest emission standards in all the global markets the i10 and i20 will be exported to but the fallout of this is that Indian consumers get to taste the new motor before anyone else.
Developed originally as a 1248cc engine for the export markets, Hyundai has reduced the engine’s bore and stroke to lower the cubic capacity to under 1.2 litres (to meet small car norms) or 1197cc to be precise. The engine still develops a healthy 79bhp and 11.4kgm of torque, which is a huge 20 and 11 percent respectively greater than the standard 1.1 or ‘Epsilon’ engine.
The increase in power is immediately apparent. The i10 feels livelier with the Kappa motor, which is willing to be revved. The top end of the power band is particularly impressive and beyond 6200rpm, the point when the Epsilon motor runs out of steam, the Kappa is good for another 300rpm. In this brief drive we couldn’t test the acceleration but expect a 2-3 second reduction in the 0-100 dash. Top speed is much higher as well and the Kappa, for its size, is a terrific highway cruiser. But for the speed that the i10 is capable of, Hyundai should have upgraded the tyres, which are currently the same size as the slower Epsilon i10.
In city driving, the Kappa didn’t feel substantially quicker than the Epsilon i10 which develops its torque and power much lower down the power band. Besides, the Epsilon’s legendary pulling power in third gear is something the Kappa can’t easily beat. However, as an overall package, the Kappa is far better. The engine feels smoother and quieter and has a spring in its step the Epsilon doesn’t. The Kappa’s trump card is expected to be fuel efficiency and it could be the class best.
The surprise package however is the automatic i10. The four-speed auto ’box is carried over from the Santro but it works surprisingly well with the Kappa. It’s pretty responsive and the surplus of power from the Kappa motor ensures that you never struggle to keep up with the traffic. Starting at Rs 4.44 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the automatic i10 Magna though expensive is decent value but it remains to be seen how thirsty it is in comparison to the manual.
With the Kappa motor, Hyundai has introduced two new variants — the Asta and the Sport — which have higher trim levels. Spec-for-spec there’s around a Rs 12,000 increase in price between the older Epsilon and the Kappa. The price hike isn’t substantial and for a new and sophisticated motor is well worth the extra cash. The Epsilon i10 continues in the base D-lite and Era trims with the smaller 1.1 engine and this gives the i10 an extremely wide range. Expect this Hyundai to become the best-seller in its class.