Exactly twenty years after it originally debuted, the Santro is about to make a comeback in the Indian market. The car, which has successfully managed to find a lot of homes during its first innings, is possibly only second to the Maruti 800 as far as brand connect goes. And that is something both the brand and its patrons are proud of. Codenamed AH2, the all-new Hyundai Santro is likely to have a suffix added to its name.
The original tallboy’s design would be hard to replicate today, but Hyundai appears to not be in a mood to sit back. The new car is unlike any other Hyundai on sale but it also includes most design elements that define a Hyundai these days. Take the swept back headlamps,for instance, they are unlike anything else in the lineup. The wide ‘cascading’ radiator grille is very IONIQ-esque but totally different from anything else that Hyundai sells. The rear is also a revelation, thanks in part to stubby tail lamps and a wide boot. But like most of the new-age Hyundais, the rear number plate is housed in the bumper. It’s close to the Hyundai Grand i10 in terms of overall design, but the original tallboy stance is also said to make a comeback as well.
Which means that there’s going to be quite a lot of headroom inside. The dashboard layout mimics that of the new Verna to a large extent. The decently big touchscreen sits flush while the rather short centre console also houses the AC controls underneath. The gear lever is made more accessible — like in the i10 — while just next to that is a row of buttons. That’s not the most usual places to put switches, but it’s an interesting design. The dashboard is dual-tone but there’s been a liberal use of silver and chrome touches. That elevates the upcoming ‘Santro’ a level above its rivals. Also worth noting is that the new car is unlikely to skimp on features; there’s also a camera placed right under the Hyundai logo on the boot. A reverse camera in this segment isn’t unheard of, but it’s still something buyers don’t demand.
The Hyundai Santro is expected to be powered by a 1.1-litre engine that was also found in the erstwhile Hyundai Santro Xing and the Hyundai i10. With a sub-70-bhp maximum power, it won’t set your pulse racing, but for a car of this size, it should be perfect. Since Hyundai is likely to keep a gap between this and the Grand i10, the larger 1.2-litre unit is unlikely to make it to the car.
What will be exclusive to the 2019 Hyundai Santro is an optional automated manual transmission. And while the company is unlikely to bring a diesel model, the Hyundai Santro AMT might just go on to set new rules in the segment. A five-speed gearbox will be standard.
Korean carmaker Hyundai understands how to satisfy buyers, so the pricing isn’t expected to go wrong. Especially with more than 20 years of experience, and the ability to reach the number 2 spot in the Indian market, Hyundai knows a thing or two about the Indian market as well.
The competition will include the Tata Tiago, Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Celerio, among others. For the Hyundai Santro to beat them, it needs great pricing. Because everything else seems to be perfect for a compact vehicle like the Santro.