Hyundai Grand i10
As a car buyer, the A-segment is considerably difficult to choose from with competition rife among most manufacturers to offer the best value at an attractive price.
A particularly fierce competitor currently in the A-segment is the Hyundai Grand i10, and although the price of this car has increased significantly recently, somewhere in the order of R35 000 over a 18-month period (December 2014 – June 2016), it is still a hotly-contested product in a market saturated with an abundance of options to choose from. I would suppose however, that this exorbitant new price bracket does place the Grand i10 considerably closer to B-segment options.
I recently conducted a long-term test in top-of-the (manual) -range, Grand i10 Fluid, with faux-leather seats and red interior panels.
The Grand i10 is marketed as an unofficial replacement to the old Hyundai Getz, and a more spacious option that the i10, with a fuel efficient engine that still provides decent power and torque, enough space for four and a decent-sized boot. It could be classified as the ideal car for first-time buyers or those looking to upgrade from ageing cars. It is also ideal for couples, as the boot is just shy of being spacious-enough for more than two people’s average holiday luggage. Taking four on a trip to Durban will likely result in numerous squabbles over limited space and decreased engine performance from the frugal 1.2 ℓ petrol engine.
Let me harp on about the powerplant. It’s only a 1.2, four cylinder petrol, so do not expect razor-sharp performance. However, when zipping around by oneself you could be mistaken for the Grand i10 having a bigger engine as it easily keeps-up with the Polo Vivo’s, Rio’s, i20’s of the world. It’s only when the passenger seats become occupied that performance drops to levels associated with a small-cc engine, that is neither artificially-aspirated or diesel.
Back-in-the-day, when no-one dared to utter the words, “I’m thinking of getting a 1.2 ℓ,” because this was associated with dismal highway performance and ridiculous pull-off speed. But, back-in-the-day, engines were built with lower tolerances, fewer valves, fewer cylinders, carburettors and a lack of engine management systems (among other things), which today’s cars do have; and this makes all the difference.
Continuing in the modern-engine trend, it is all the hype in the current car climate for small-cc turbo-charged engines, especially for various manufacturers’ A-segment and B-segment offerings. Opel uses a 1.0 ℓ, turbo-charged three-pot to power its hottest-hatch, the top of the range, Opel Adam Glam. This engine produces 85 kW and 170 Nm of torque. The bottom-range offering in the Adam family uses a 1.4 ℓ, four pot which is naturally aspirated, and produces less power (74 kW) and significantly less torque (a mere 130 Nm)…Who would have guessed?
In terms of real-life fuel consumption, a weeks worth of driving in traffic from home to work and back (about 30 km daily), returned an average fuel consumption in the range of a mediocre 5.2 ℓ/100 km. Of particular interest however, is the fuel consumption I managed to achieve (on more than one occasion) driving at constant speed on a highway of a ridiculously astonishing 3.5 ℓ/100 km, which I managed to average during trips from Johannesburg to Pretoria (about 60 km). before anyone asks, no I was not cruising at 80 km/h, it was more like 100 km/h, and yes, the aircon was on…
Although the engine might be more than sufficient for its designated consumer and market profile, the car’s performance falls short in terms of its gearbox configuration. I have driven the Kia Picanto 1.2 ℓ (which I am told uses the same engine as the Hyundai, as Kia is the unofficial sister company of Hyundai), and its gearbox (of similar configuration – 5 speed manual) is far better suited to driving at highway speeds, especially in South Africa – where speed limits seem to be mere guidelines, instead of legally-instituted safe driving parameters.
Let me explain: the Grand i10 can cruise “comfortably” at 100 km/h. That is it. Try, even for a short burst, to drive at 110 km/h and the little power plant begins showing signs of exceeding its limits. This is backed up by the reading on the tachometer: At 100 km/h, the RPM is dead-set on 3 000. Try 110 km/h and the RPM climbs to about 3 400, which is not a happy place for the Grand i10. For the daring (or those that just like driving at the legal highway speed limit), try 120 km/h – this elevates the RPM to near 4 000 RPM, with the engine screaming for a reprieve to slower speeds. For those who have no inclination to “running an engine into the ground”, then this is a non-issue as I have seen many Grand i10 drivers in the fast-lane happily doing 120 km/h, if not more; but they have no grounds to complain when engine failure occurs.
The Picanto (1.2 EX manual) on the other hand, can easily muster 130 km/h at about 3 500 RPM. I could easily drive from Johannesburg to Durban in this model Picanto, cruising at a reasonable highway speed, without the guilt of destroying the internals of its engine.
On the topic of issues, I have a few. Let me begin with the steering-wheel-mounted audio controls (the ones that manage the volume, mute and track selection functions of the sound system). To put it bluntly, they barely work. Hyundai could not fix, and did not seem interested in remedying this issue, which left me with a vehicle that has fancy little buttons on its steering wheel, which work as and when they wish.
Yet again, the Picanto has similar steering-wheel audio controls, which have never given a days hassle.
The engine also produces a rather strange ticking noise when under load at a constant speed. This is most evident when climbing hills at about 100 km/h and can get so loud that the factory-fitted sound system cannot overpower it.
The central-locking system is also significantly infuriating. Unlike other (better designed systems), the one on the Grand i10 locks all the doors once the ignition key is turned, but while this may not be a major issue, it is far more convenient to have the doors lock only after the vehicle is moving.
However, even more puzzling is the manner in which the passenger doors automatically unlock – they don’t!
Let me set the scene: you have just been driving with three passengers and it is time to get out the car. What does a normal driver do: turn off the engine and get out the car, as a sensible central locking system would have automatically unlocked each and every door. But this is not the case with the Grand i10.
Unlocking passenger doors must be done manually by pressing the unlock button, which is located in the usual place of the driver’s side armrest. However, and this is where the poor design creeps in, unlocking of passenger doors must be done while the engine is still running, as once the ignition key is turned off, it is physically impossible to unlock any of the passenger doors using the unlock armrest button. In order to unlock the passenger doors after the ignition is off requires turning it back on, thereby “locking” all the doors again, wasting sometimes precious seconds, and then pressing the unlock button to free trapped passengers from locked doors, thereby allowing them to disembark from the vehicle.
In addition, unlocking all the doors with the remote control requires two very slow presses of the unlock button. On other vehicles, the remote control can simply be pressed twice fast to unlock all doors.
I queried my central locking gripe with two Hyundai dealerships, and after being turned away by the first, I was informed by the second dealership that there was nothing they could do as the third-party alarm system could not be reconfigured or programmed in a different way. It would just have to be something an owner of a Grand i10 would have to live with.
In conclusion, the Hyundai Grand i10 offers great value and space, but it may be worth considering sacrificing boot space for a better performing and more reliable vehicle, with some of the other manufacturers also providing the choice of more vibrant colours.
By Dylan Slater