Hyundai Santro takes new avatar

Auto components India - - STORY - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

Twenty years ago when the Korean car maker Hyundai en­tered the In­dian mar­ket, many were scep­ti­cal about its com­pe­tence to suc­ceed. When the com­pany launched its first car Santro on Septem­ber 23, 1998 all eyes turned to the new tall boy de­sign car, with first in­class fea­tures. Scep­tics turned to be be­liev­ers. Its re­fined, peppy en­gine and well-fin­ished in­te­ri­ors helped Hyundai Santro script its suc­cess story here. To add more flavour to the Santro, Hyundai roped in the then ris­ing Bol­ly­wood star Shahrukh Khan, who had just started on his jour­ney with films like Dil­wale Dul­haniya and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Hyundai un­der­stood the In­dian mar­ket and ap­proached it with hu­mil­ity and hon­esty, cared for the In­dian con­sumers and brought global best-in-class fea­tures in its prod­ucts along with the friendly and help­ful sales and ser­vice per­son­nel. All these helped the Korean com­pany to grow to be the sec­ond largest car­maker in the coun­try in 2 decades.

Santro has a story. Hyundai In­dia stopped its pro­duc­tion in De­cem­ber 2014, though the car has been the bedrock of the brand in In­dia since launch. There was still de­mand for the car and there were peo­ple ready to pay a premium to own it. Santro was axed from the line-up to make way for other, more prof­itable new cars such as the Grand i10 and the new Elite i20. Even af­ter a year of dis­con­ti­nu­ity, the name Santro was in the air. Sens­ing the need and de­mand the com­pany started to work on its new hatch­back, code named AH2. Af­ter in­ten­sive mar­ket study Hyundai de­vel­oped the new car and took nearly 3 years to com­plete it. For this AH2 project, the com­pany had in­vested nearly $100 mil­lion in the last 2 years to bring back the ‘All New Santro’.

Y K Koo, MD & CEO, HMIL said, “Since its first launch, Santro cre­ated his­tory with its nu­mer­ous seg­ment-first in­no­va­tions and be­came the Com­plete Fam­ily Car for mil­lions of In­di­ans. The all-new Santro is based on 6 key pil­lars: Modern Stylish Tall­boy de­sign, Com­fort­able and Premium Cabin, New Age tech­nol­ogy, Cus­tomer-Cen­tric Safety, All Round Per­for­mance and Com­plete Peace of Mind. These make it a game changer and bench­mark prod­uct in the In­dian auto in­dus­try.”

Af­ter ex­ten­sive test­ing and val­i­da­tion, Hyundai un­wrapped the cov­ers of the new Santro that has taken a new avatar on Oc­to­ber 23, 2018, to carry on from where the older Santro had left off. The prod­uct will be po­si­tioned in the mid-com­pact seg­ment, which is cur­rently dom­i­nated by mar­ket leader Maruti Suzuki’s Cele­rio, Wagon R and Tata’s Ti­ago. The over­all de­sign theme of the new Santro is based on “Rhyth­mi­cal Ten­sion” that ex­udes a Re­fined yet Sporty Im­age. It is plot­ted be­tween the Eon and Grand i10 in the com­pany’s line-up and car­ries a dif­fer­ent de­sign lan­guage with LED DRLs and the full-face wide cas­cad­ing grille. In the pre­vi­ous Santro the Hyundai logo was placed in the cen­tre of the grill but in the new Santro it is at the top of the bonnet. The head­lamps are swept back. With these changes the front has the looks of a sporty, premium car. The side pro­file of the car has got some nice styling lines, creases and kink in the win­dow line al­low­ing the new Santro to be more edgy. The rear of the car looks nice and neat.

Like its pre­de­ces­sor, the new Santro car­ries the ‘tall boy’ stance and made only few changes in the specs. Now the length is 3610mm, width is at 1645mm and the height is 1560mm. With the in­crease in length and width, there’s plenty of space in­side the cabin. Sim­i­lar to the other Hyundai cars, the in­te­rior of the new Santro looks premium. It gets a dual-tone beige-on-black themed dash­board and the cen­tre of at­trac­tion is the de­sign of the air-con vents, first in class fea­tures like rear AC vents and a re­v­erse cam­era.

To en­sure a com­fort­able cabin ex­pe­ri­ence even in the harsh­est In­dian sum­mers, it comes with a best-in-class 135cc compressor mo­tor that cools the cabin much faster. The 7 inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem comes with Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto and Mir­rorLink. Be­ing an af­ford­able car there are lot of plas­tics in­side the cabin and the qual­ity lev­els have gone down. The seats are com­fort­able, have enough thigh sup­port and have high seat­ing pos­ture. The rear flat seat cush­ions en­sure all 3 pas­sen­gers can be seated com­fort­ably.

The all-new Santro is pow­ered by a 1.1L four-cylin­der petrol en­gine that pro­duces about 69PS of power at 5,500rpm and 99Nm of torque at 4,500rpm. It also comes with a fac­tory-fit­ted CNG op­tion with this en­gine, al­beit with an 59PS/84Nm tune. The pre­vi­ous Santro buy­ers loved the com­bi­na­tion of space, price and ef­fi­ciency it of­fered. Now Hyundai wants to widen its scope by mak­ing it eas­ier to drive and live with by of­fer­ing an au­to­matic gear­box with a sin­gle clutch. Known as an AMT, the sin­gle clutch au­to­matic is per­fectly suited to do duty here as it is in­her­ently more ef­fi­cient than reg­u­lar au­to­mat­ics, and is also more af­ford­able. The new Santro has a man­ual mode as well. In the Hyundai test track at the Sripe­rum­budur fac­tory we drove the AMT ver­sion and were very im­pressed with the per­for­mance. Once you crank the en­gine it idles smoothly. The newly de­vel­oped AMT gets the elec­tric ac­tu­a­tion as against hy­draulic and that makes rel­a­tively smooth and jerk-free. The new trans­mis­sion is so smooth that a com­mon man can’t say whether it is AMT or CVT. This AMT takes off as soon as you press the ac­cel­er­a­tor, mak­ing it nice to drive in city traf­fic. How­ever, there is a bit of jerk­i­ness, as on all AMTs, but Hyundai seems to have im­proved the man­ner in which the gear­box and en­gine work to­gether. Con­sid­er­ing the other AMTs in the mar­ket, this AMT per­forms very well es­pe­cially when the gears go down, it moves quite smoothly. The shifts seem a bit smoother and the speed with which the gears en­gage man­u­ally when you push on the lever seems to be a bit quicker.

The new Santro is built on a new plat­form along with the ap­pli­ca­tion of 63% Ad­vanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) along with High Strength Steel (HSS), help­ing to achieve prom­i­nent static and dy­namic stiff­ness with im­proved struc­tural con­nec­tiv­ity. Ad­di­tion­ally stan­dard ABS with EBD and driver airbag pro­vides un­com­pro­mised safety.

The B-seg­ment has seen Maruti loses its dom­i­nance over it with the Re­nault Kwid be­ing suc­cess­ful which opened the seg­ment to new play­ers. While Hyundai has strong prod­ucts in other price points, its B-seg­ment chal­lenger, the Eon, hasn’t been com­pet­i­tive enough. Hyundai is hop­ing this new car gives it a bet­ter shot and tar­gets to sell at least 10,000 cars every month.

Hyundai’s Cor­po­rate Brand Am­bas­sador Shahrukh Khan and Y K Koo, MD & CEO, HMIL along with the ‘All New Santro’

Hyundai kick started its In­dia in­nings on Septem­ber 23, 1998 by lauc­n­hing its first car Santro

In­te­ri­ors of the new Santro looks premium with the dual-tone beigeon-black themed dash­board

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