AS of now, the Hyundai i10 is no more in Mzansi, but fans of the entry level hatchback will doubtless be pleased to know that a fettled Grand i10 has stepped into the breach to carry the Korean flag, a task shared across a broader range than previously.
As I’ve opined before, it seems a contradiction in terms to attach such a grandiose moniker to a lower rung model — i10 Plus would be more relevant — but I’m not here to surmise about Hyundai’s naming process so let’s take a look at what the refreshed Grand 110 has to offer.
Quite a bit it seems given that six models now make up the range, albeit that we only got to drive the top-spec Grand i10 1.25 Glide manual on nicely-surfaced roads in the drought-stricken Western Cape.
New onto the scene are three versions – Motion manual and Motion 4-spd auto plus Fluid 4-spd auto Each utilises a 48kW/94Nm normally aspirated 1.0 three-cylinder mill that also sees service in the Kia Picanto. These will appeal to first time buyers and students who hopefully spend a lot of time at sea level as experience suggests this motor struggles for breath on the Highveld.
Next up are the 1.25 litre, 64kW/120Nm four-cylinder models made up of 5-spd manual Glide or Fluid and a 4-spd auto Fluid.
All models now have dual front airbags with the 1.0 litre models also equipped with air con, central locking, external colour-coding, full size spare wheel, driver’s seat/seat belt height adjustment, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel remote control for the driver info system and sound system.
Glide and Fluid models add niceties such as heated and folding side mirrors, keyless entry, full colour touch screen with sat nav capability on the purchase of a pre-loaded SD card, USB/AUX ports, alloy wheels, additional chrome detailing and more.
Eight exterior colours are available across the board and all bar the Glide are kitted out with black cloth seating surfaces. It’s only the Glide that shows off with rather dandy red and black leather/cloth seat facings and red inlays in the dashboard and centre console. To my eyes, this really lifts the ambience and is worth the extra money for sure.
Now we know what’s on offer, you may want to know how the more powerful 64kW Fluid model performs. Rather obviously, it hardly sets the world on fire but despite only having 5-speeds to transfer power to the front wheels, it manages pretty decently at sea level at least. Peak torque of 120Nm is only accessible from a lofty 4 000 rpm which forces the adoption of low gearing, even in fifth.
That means the otherwise smooth and (mostly) aurally restrained four-cylinder motor is rarely turning over at anything less than 3 000 rpm on the open road, a rate of rotation probably around 50% higher than equivalent displacement turbo motors would thrive on. As a result, occupants are always aware of the presence of the engine but not to a disconcerting degree.
To some extent, the mechanical exertions are detectable because Hyundai has done a good job by class standards of isolating wind and road-sourced noises which means overall refinement levels are pleasing. Bear in mind though that at higher altitudes, there will be a greater need to keep that motor on the boil, especially if four pax are on board.
For the record, Hyundai’s spec sheet shows a combined fuel consumption of 5.9l/100km for the 1.25 manual but past experience suggests that a real-world figure around 7.0l/100km is more realistic.
Bearing in mind that by far the bulk of the driving was carried out on the open road, it’s not so easy to assess ride quality but the Grand i10 did manage to convey the feeling of being a bigger car than it is as it rode dips and crests with aplomb and appeared to have sufficient pliancy to iron out the worst of ruts and bumps. Hyundai engineers have carried out a number of tweaks to suspension geometry, so their work seems to have been rewarded.
The Grand i10 was also entirely free of squeaks and rattles and conveyed a feeling of being well screwed together, an impression reinforced by the good gloss of the deep red paintwork adorning our car.
Good marks also go to the gearshift for its slick and easy action, to the clutch for its lightweight and smooth take-up and to the power steering for offering a well-judged level of assistance and for avoiding that horrible off-centre dead spot that afflicts so many systems today.
Seating comfort is good thanks to generous bolstering and adjustability but be aware that the steering wheel only adjusts for rake. On the outward journey, we carried a third passenger whose presence did not demand undue compromises from the front seat passenger as the fore-and aft space in the Grand i10 is surprisingly generous for the class.
As for the quality of trim, the Glide model sports a rather dandy duo-tone scheme – red and black in this instance – and while soft-touch finishings are understandably absent at this price level, Hyundai has done a really good job in disguising the hard surfacing thanks to the use of grained matt finishes and neat panel integration. There’s certainly nothing cheapskate about the overall execution, an impression confirmed by smooth-acting switchgear.
Boot space varies from 256l to a very competitive 1 202l with seats folded which perhaps reinforces the suitability of the Grand i10 as an urban runabout rather than as a primary family conveyance.
While visual changes have taken a back-seat to mechanical and spec tweaks in this latest iteration of the Grand i10, there’s more to Hyundai’s diminutive contender than meets the eye. Indeed, there’s something inherently honest about this hatchback which comes at a competitive price level that’s been achieved without stripping-out useful kit. It’s also likely to be a faithful companion as Hyundai’s incredibly low warranty claim levels prove. It’s certainly not grand in the literal sense but it’s grander than most of the competition in this class and therefore worthy of consideration.
(Please note: Specification and model ranges listed in this article refer to the South African market. Please consult your local Hyundai dealer for an update on plans for the Zimbabwe market.)