Hyundai's Xcent compact sedan maybe new on the block, being the carmaker's first offering in the segment here, but it's already generated a lot of interest. When we last checked with dealers, 11,000 bookings had already been registered and they claimed over a lakh enquiries for the new compact sedan.
The Hyundai Xcent sedan is an all-new car based on the Grand i10 hatchback. Its sub-four-metre size qualifies it as a small car and thus earns it the same low rate of excise duty as the hatchback – that means a smart compact sedan for not so much money.
The Xcent is available in both diesel and petrol avatars, with an automatic transmission option on the petrol car. But before you put your money down for the latest new Hyundai, read our road test to check if it's worth it.
The Xcent’s 1.1-litre diesel engine immediately puts it at a displacement disadvantage to its nearest rivals, the Honda Amaze and Maruti Swift Dzire. The fact is, the Xcent’s relatively small engine bay cannot accommodate a much larger engine to begin with. That ruled out the use of the 1.4 CRDi motor from the i20, and instead what you get here is the same three-cylinder U2 CRDi unit that made its debut under the hood of the Grand i10. However, the engine has been tweaked for use on the Xcent, with revised ECU mapping and the addition of electronic control for the turbo’s wastegate for longer sustained boost. The result is a flatter torque curve with a 13 percent improvement in torque and a 1bhp increment in power to 71bhp.
What’s nice is that you can see the benefits of these improvements in the real world. There’s very little of the turbo lag you’d typically expect from such a small-capacity diesel motor. Progress is smooth right from the get go and the gradual build up of power makes the Xcent diesel a very friendly car to drive in the city. Things stay that way till about 3,800rpm, after which the power simply falls off a cliff. This is best (or rather worst) experienced when attempting to overtake at highway speeds. There’s nothing to gain by holding gear, so it’s advisable to short shift and keep the engine in the mid-range. Shuffling through the gears, though, poses no problem. The five-speed gearbox is smooth and the clutch light by diesel car standards. And for a three-cylinder diesel engine, refinement levels are fairly good. There is some patter from the engine and vibes at low engine speeds, but things smoothen out as you build speed. The engine does get quite noisy as you rev hard, but like we said, there’s no point venturing into the upper reaches of the rev band.
In terms of outright performance, the Xcent diesel is seriously off the pace compared to the Amaze and Dzire. 0-100kph comes up in a lazy 18.61 seconds. It’s slower through the gears as well but what the numbers hide is the linearity with which the Xcent diesel gathers pace.
The Xcent petrol is similar to the diesel version in the way it grants you easy access to power at low speeds. Variable valve timing and drive-by-wire on the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder Kappa 2 motor help bottom-end responses and make the car feel peppy and light on its feet. The responsive nature of the engine also lets you occasionally get by in a higher gear than usual. Not that gear changes call for much effort – the light clutch and slick-shifting five-speed gearbox ensure that. To be honest, in the confines
of a city, there’s little more you’d want from your car.
When in the mood for some fun, the Xcent petrol doesn’t disappoint either. The wide spread of torque provides ample power right up till 5,000rpm. Performance, indeed, is far better than just being acceptable for this class of car. 0-100kph takes 14.23 seconds, with the car topping out at 172kph. You’d also like this motor for its refinement – it’s smooth, quiet and a match for the best in this class. There is some gearbox whine though.
The Xcent comes with a dual-DIN audio system with a CD player. It can also be connected to your mobile phone or portable audio player through aux, USB or Bluetooth. In addition to this, the system also features 1GB of internal storage to let you store about 150 songs in MP3 format. Syncing the system with your phone is pretty straightforward and gives you the option to copy your phone’s contacts into the head unit. We had no problems using the Bluetooth telephone function, although the sound quality from the car’s four speakers is just average.
The tweaks to the 1.1 CRDi diesel motor have made a positive difference in fuel economy too. Driven through congested Mumbai traffic, the Xcent delivered a very impressive 16.2kpl which betters the Grand i10’s figure of 15.4kpl. Out on the highway, the lower drag of the Xcent’s sedan body style came into play to allow the Xcent to deliver a superb 20.3kpl. That’s an average economy of 18.3kpl, which is good enough for about 780 kilometres between fuel stops! The petrol Xcent is good in its own right. We got 11.5kpl in city driving and 16.3kpl cruising on the highway.