Grand design: Hyundai reincarnates the Getz with the new Grand i10
When it comes to cars - and specifically new and unfamiliar brands, South Africans can be a hard bunch to please. Changing to an unknown brand from an established one can either rank as a brave step and willing to take chances, or complete insanity combined with poor service and numerous trips to the workshop.
Much like the dilemma its Japanese competition encountered during the 1950s and 1960s, Hyundai faced a similar scenario when it set-up shop in South Africa during the early-1990s. Despite offering models cheaper than its German and Japanese rivals, and even venturing into the world of local motorsport with a specially built Accent 4x4 for use in rallying and a series of 1800cc Elantras in Class D of the fledging production car series, sales remained steady with many consumers opting to spend their hard earned cash on an established make with a proven local record.
At the turn of the century however, many of the naysayers who had predicted that the brand would be out of South Africa within a few years, were forced to eat their own words as the popularity of the South Korean automaker’s models started to increase thanks to a combination of smart looks, decent pricing, improved quality and dealer service.
Often credited as the model that kick-started the brand’s road to success locally, the Getz supermini drew instant praises from the motoring press upon its 2002 launch due to a combination of funky youthful looks, pricing and levels of standard kit with even the base 1.3-litre model – upgraded to 1.4-litres in 2006 - featuring power steering, air-conditioning, electric windows and central locking, while costing less than R100 000.
Accompanied by a range topping 1.6-litre engine and in 2005, a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine, later upgraded with an extra cylinder and a DOHC layout to produce a fairly whopping 81 kW, the Getz continued to remain popular until production eventually seized in 2011, at which point its supposed successor, the i20, had been on sale since 2008.
Faced with a sizable gap in its product line-up between the entry level i10 and i20, the pressure was on Hyundai to develop a challenger in the crucial sub-R150 000 price bracket. Enter the Grand i10, a vehicle Hyundai claims is the true successor to the Getz.
Built in India on the same platform as the i10, albeit 180 mm longer, 65 mm wider and 20 mm lower, our Golden Orange coloured Grand i10 1.2 Motion made an immediate impression with the adoption of the brand’s latest Fluidic Sculpture design language, first seen on the recently facelifted ix35 SUV.
The combination of the now trademark hexagonal lower air dam with integrated foglights, swept back headlights, extensive use of colour coding and sporty 14-inch alloy wheels, affords the Grand a more funkier appearance than the i10 while also providing a sportier stance thanks to the lowered roofline.
Inside, the Grand’s cabin features a minimalistic, by today’s standards, yet clean look with good quality plastics adorning the facia and the centre console. Despite our Motion spec tester being the base model in the range, the list of standard equipment is extensive and includes air-conditioning, power steering, a four-speaker MP3 compatible sound system with USB and Aux inputs, front electric windows, central locking, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, full trip computer, dual front airbags and ABS with EBD.
Space-wise, the extra 180 mm, although not sounding like much, proved its worth as our test subjects seated in the back, neither complained about a lack of knee-room or found the seats uncomfortable.
Mechanically, the Grand uses the same 1.2-litre petrol engine that does duty in the i10, which produces an impressive 64 kW and 120 N.m. Without doubt the Grand’s standout feature, the five-speed manual gearbox, entrusted with rooting the power through the front wheels, features a precise and direct shift action while the clutch proved light and easy to modulate. Likewise, the ride features a soft yet complained setup.
It might take a while before it reaches the same kind of following achieved by the Getz, but there is no doubt that the Hyundai Grand i10 has stayed true to the traits of its predecessor. By keeping it simple with more than enough toys, an impressive drivetrain setup and excellent space utilisation, all wrapped up in a sporty looking body with a name now well and truly established among South Africans, a new segment leader might just be on the cards.
To book a test drive, visit Hyundai East London at 90 Old Transkei Road or contact them on 043 735 3893.
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