Back in 1998, Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) commenced its operates with the Atos, a global small car that was marketed in India under the name of the Santro. Its tallboy design, a first-of-its-kind in the market, received mixed reactions from the audience but the model ended up winning many hearts owing to its competitive pricing and high practicality. The earlier Hyundai Santro was discontinued in early 2016 after HMIL sold well over a million units in the domestic market in a journey spanning some 17 years.
Fast forward to October 2018 and HMIL has launched an all-new Santro. The 2019 Hyundai Santo is based on the K1 platform, which is, in turn, derived from the Grand i10's BA-platform. Powering the new model is an updated version of the earlier Santro's 1.1-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated Epsilon engine, but a major highlight is the optional 5-speed SmartAUTO AMT. While the latest small car from the South Korean carmaker has more in common with the i10 family than the original Tallboy, this is something that can work in favour of it. Our 2019 Hyundai Santro review will take you through all there's to know about the new tallboy.
A Modern Tallboy
The 2019 Hyundai Santro has more than a passing resemblance with the Grand i10, especially when seen from certain angles. That said, in spite of the modern design that is nowhere as quirky as before, it retains the tallboy layout of its predecessor. The front-end of the new model is characterised by a set of swept-back headlamps, a pair of high-set fog lamps, and a sizeable cascading grille that is flanked by chrome trim. Highlights of the side profile include stylish ORVMs with integrated turn signals and bold creases around the wheel arches. The beltline receives a kink towards the rear. The rear carries a clean look, which is courtesy of small tail lamps, a slightly chunky bumper with a large black insert, and a neatly sculpted tailgate that is reminiscent of that of the Grand i10.
The 2019 Hyundai Santro measures 3,610 mm in length, 1,645 mm in width, and 1,560 mm in height. It has a wheelbase of 2,400 mm. In comparison, the Maruti Wagon R, which is one of the main rivals of the new model, measures 3,599 mm in length, 1,495 mm in width, and 1,700 mm in height. However, it has an identical wheelbase of 2,400 mm. The new model is available in seven colour options - Typhoon Silver, Polar White, Stardust, Imperial Beige, Marina Blue, Fiery Red, and Diana Green.
Spacious and Feature-laden
Step inside, and you'll be impressed with the impeccable fit and finish and the high quality of materials. The highlights of the dashboard include a 6.96-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system, propellor-like side aircon vents, an elephant-inspired centre console with a dedicated area for the placement of a God idol, and small storage space to hold knick-knacks right above the glove compartment. Other highlights of the cabin include first-in-segment rear AC vents and the centrally-positioned electric window switches behind the gear lever.
The large greenhouse, along with the usage of a light colour tone for the interior panels, leads to a sense of airiness that is typical of most tallboys. The front occupants enjoy sufficient knee room and headroom, but driver's seat height adjustment and a tilt steering aren't being offered even on the top-spec Asta trim. Also, the rear occupants benefit from sufficient legroom. The back seat offers decent support but doesn't provide a split-folding feature. The boot space, at 235-litres, is the same as that of the Celerio but falls short of the Kwid's best-in-class trunk capacity of 300-litres.
Most Hyundai models offer segment-topping features list, and the new Santro is no different. The highlight of its features list includes a touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, reverse parking sensors with a camera, rear aircon vents, and rear washer and wiper.
Refined and Practical
The updated 1.1-litre Epsilon motor of the 2019 Hyundai Santro outputs a maximum of 69 PS of power and 84.33 Nm of torque. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed AMT. Turn on the ignition, and the engine settles down in a smooth idle. The cabin benefits from well-controlled NVH-levels and the calm nature of the motor makes long drives all the more comfortable. There's sufficient torque on offer almost across the rev range and the slick-shifting gearbox, along with the light clutch, further enhances the overall driving experience.
The optional 5-speed SmartAUTO AMT makes driving through the congested streets totally stressfree. Typical of most AMTs, the gear shifts are slightly jerky but never get bothersome. The 'manual' mode lets you override the electronics and can be used in case one wishes to enjoy a more involving drive.
Comfortable Ride and Decent Dynamics
The 2019 Hyundai Santro rides and handles way better than its predecessor. In fact, its ride quality is comparable to that of some of the pricier models. The car smoothly glides over most potholes and undulations. It stays planted at the expressway speeds, and the 165/70 R15-spec tires offer sufficient grip around the corners. The steering remains light at city speeds but gains weight as speed rises. As is the case with most low-cost electric power steering units, the one on the new Santro is devoid of real feedback but it never feels lifeless or too vague around its dead centre.
The only grouse we have here is with the brakes. While they provide sufficient bite to haul down the car from high speeds, the hatchback is prone to swerve a fair bit under hard braking at high speeds. This, in turn, can hold you back from driving the car too fast.
In a nutshell, the 2019 Hyundai Santro has a lot going for it. For starters, it comes across as a sophisticated tallboy that offers segment-best interior quality and features. It's more spacious than before and the reworked 1.1-litre Epsilon motor is a lot more refined and frugal. The optional AMT is a well-sorted unit that enhances the practicality of the new tallboy. Yet another highlight is the excellent ride quality along with decent handling manners. While we would have preferred a better-tuned set of brakes, there's little else we can point our finger at. Well, the new Santro has some big shoes to fill but it doesn't look like the new model will have difficulties to carry forward the legacy.