A sort of insider joke among a group of us regularly exposed to high quality wines but a long way from fluent in the art of winespeak, is to refer to whatever we are offered as “a brave little wine” – amazingly, often getting a nod of approval from the winespeakers, as if we were truly kindred spirits.
Having had the opportunity to drive both the Hyundai Grand i10 1.2 and 1.0 versions back to back, I thought it fitting to put them together in this road impressions – not as a direct comparison, but more as view from either end of the scale.
In that, the 1.0 emerges as a “brave little car” and, for me, was the more fun to drive of the two.
However, to backtrack a little.
Hyundai rejuvenated its Grand i10 range in South Africa with new features and added a new entry derivative to give this popular entry-level model a fresh appeal in the local automotive market earlier this year.
The Grand i10 hatchback, which is the smallest new car in the local Hyundai range, has taken over the role of entry-level model after the i10 was discontinued.
“We had a relook at the Grand i10 range, change the specification levels and added a new entry derivative with a 1,0-litre engine and the Motion specification level. The end result is a hatchback model with a variety of derivatives that offer exceptional value,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
The revised line-up of this smallest hatchback in the Hyundai range consists of six derivatives –three powered by the new 1,0-litre 3-cylinder engine delivering 48 kW at 5 500 r/min and 94 Nm maximum torque at 3 500 r/min and the other three using the 1,25-litre 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 64 kW at 6 000 r/min. and 120 Nm maximum torque at 4 000 r/min.
A passenger air bag was now been added in all the derivatives to the driver’s air bag and steering wheel remote controls, including buttons for the Bluetooth connectivity for cell-phones and an integrated microphone also form part of the upgraded features across the range.
The Grand i10 Fluid and Glide derivatives have electrically heated side mirrors that can also fold in at the touch of a button and an ‘infotainment’ centre with a large full-colour touch-screen where.
The body shell of the Grand i10 produces one of the roomiest occupant cabins on the market, as well as an impressive 256 litres of trunk capacity. Up to 1 202 litres become available when the rear seats are folded.
The Grand i10 incorporates the hexagonal grille, the signature front end for Hyundai Motor’s cars, which clearly showing its family DNA and providing a link to its larger siblings. Grand i10 Fluid and Glide derivatives boast a chrome grille in front, as well as alloy wheels. The Motion derivatives are equipped with steel wheels with a wheel cover.
Colour-coded door handles and side-mirrors, with turn indicators built into them, combine with the attractive alloy wheels (in the Fluid and Glide specification levels) to create a very good-looking small hatchback.
Interior styling and trim differs from black cloth for the Motion and Fluid derivatives, to black leather and red cloth for the Grand i10 Glide. The Glide also sports red inserts on the instrument and door panels, as well as the centre console.
All Grand i10 derivatives are also equipped with a full-size spare wheel, height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and remote controls for the sound system and driver’s information on the steering wheel.
With that as the backstory, why do I say the 1,0-litre is more fun to drive?
Many of us love to root for the underdog in any form of competition and the 1.0 is certainly the underdog in this fight – but makes up for its lower performance by the same kind of willingness that powered ‘The Little Engine that Could’.
Both variants are intended in life as city commuters or short-haul runabouts and, while they would both make the distance, are not ideally suited as open road tourers.
So, neither of them accelerates like a Ferrari, goes as fast as a Ferrari or corners like a Ferrari. Keeping it all in context, they both move energetically off the line and are happy to be revved to the max going up through the gears.
It is also true both (especially the 1.0) require a downshift or two to keep momentum up longer hills, but with the slick action gearbox fitted, this is not an arduous task.
Interestingly, both the 1.0 Motion and 1.2 Glide are fitted with 5.5J x 14 rims and 165/65 R14 rubber – the alloy wheels on the 1.2 giving the impression of a large tyre footprint as well as taking the leads in terms of overall looks.
Misbehave into a corner, however, and the Grand i10 can bite back. The small footprint means it does not like sudden directional changes, but feed it gently into the bend and it will remain mostly neutral with, perhaps, a little initial understeer.
Where the 1.2 has that much more left in reserve for overtaking, the 1.0 requires a little more planning and it is ‘achievement’ that makes it fun to play with around town and the R53 000 difference in price between the two adds to the appeal of the commuter.
In real terms, when it comes to motoring essentials, the 1.0 loses nothing to the 1.2, the latter simply more luxurious and fettled with more features.
The Grand i10’s 1,25-litre engine belongs to Hyundai Motor’s popular ‘Kappa’ engine family and incorporates a range of features that raise power and torque, and enhance smoothness and driveability.
The 1 248 cc engine delivers 64 kW peak power at 6 000 r/min, and reaches its maximum torque delivery of 120 Nm at 4 000 r/min. Fuel consumption can be as low as 5,9 l/100 km, while the fuel-consumption of the 1,0-litre engine is 5,4 l/100 km for the manual gearbox derivatives.
Up front is a McPherson strut suspension while, at the rear, a coupled torsion beam suspension ensures comfortable driving with a stable and firm grip on the road.
The ‘Yin and Yang’ of the Hyundai i10 range occupy important places in a crowded – and very competitive – market segment, providing high levels of specification for a car under the R150 000 mark and competitive levels of luxury at the other end of the range.