CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – With new car prices increasing at a rapid rate in South Africa, the need for a comparatively inexpensive product that offers a near-premium experience has never been stronger. So, the new Hyundai Grand i10 enters our market at pretty much the perfect time, slotting in just above the Atos.

Since 2014, as many as 49 252 units of the previous-generation Grand i10 found homes in South Africa. Just before being replaced, the 1,0 Fluid trim featured an asking price of R205 500, some R11 400 less than the price of the model we’re evaluating today. This is a disparity of which financially conscious consumers will no doubt be mindful.

Still, on paper, given its price tag of R216 900, the Indian-built newcomer looks like quite a compelling buy. In top-spec Fluid trim, the Grand i10 offers air conditioning (with dedicated vents for the rear bench), electric windows all round and an array of storage compartments. The 6,2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, connected to four speakers, is fairly comprehensive (and boasts Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality), though it is a touch sluggish.

The cabin feels upmarket for this class thanks largely to the soft-touch panel on the upper dash and the faux-leather upholstery on the seats and steering wheel. Honeycomb design elements along the facia and headrests plus red accents on the air vents and seats add a sporty element.

And the exterior? Well, the rear gains a cheeky faux-diffuser while the profile features a set of stylish 14-inch alloy wheels. Up front, you'll find a bold new face with foglamps, LED daytime running lights and halogen headlamps.

Under the bonnet there's a frugal but characterful naturally aspirated 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol mill, carried over from the previous model and delivering 49 kW and 94 N.m of torque to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox (there's also a 1,2-litre engine option). With this configuration, Hyundai claims a combined fuel consumption of 5,4 L/100 km. Despite a spot of not-quite-conservative driving, I found this to be a fairly realistic figure on the day.

While the peak outputs may not look like much on paper, the Grand i10 feels suitably nippy once on the move thanks to a claimed weight of just 892 kg. As you'd expect, however, at highway speeds above 100 km/h,  the little three-pot quickly runs out of puff. Overtaking moves, therefore, should be well planned and executed with extra precision and caution.

Yes, the Korean firm's little hatch is far more at home at town speed, where its electrically assisted steering and slick gear shift means it's a doddle to pilot. Adding to its appeal for daily usability is the comfortable ride delivered by the front McPherson and rear torsion-beam suspension, together with the thick-profiled 165/70 R14 tyres and generous ground clearance of 157 mm. Rear parking sensors and electrically adjustable side mirrors, meanwhile, make alley docking and parallel parking a cinch.

Where the Grand i10 lacks a little, however, is in the safety department. ABS with EBD is included but the hatch does without items such as traction control and stability control. Furthermore, just two airbags are included. That said, these omissions are common with competitors in this price range. Peace-of-mind motoring is provided by a seven-year/200 000 km warranty and five-year/150 000 km roadside assistance. A one-year/15 000 km service plan is offered as standard, which is certainly better than nothing (considering the previous-generation model did without a service plan altogether).

So, is it worth a look? The short answer is yes. The new Grand i10 delivers an improved experience over the outgoing model, arriving as a somewhat more upmarket alternative to the Atos (for a R26 000 premium should you opt for the entry-level Motion trim). There's little doubt the Grand i10 will continue to play the role of Hyundai Automotive SA's best-seller in the months and years to come.



FAST FACTS

Model: Hyundai Grand i10 1,0 Fluid
Price: R216 900
Engine: 1,0-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Power: 49 kW @ 5 500 r/min
Torque: 94 N.m @ 3 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 14,9 seconds
Top Speed: 153 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 5,4 L/100 km
CO2: 131 g/km
Transmission: Five-speed manual 
Maintenance Plan: One-year/15 000 km service plan