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Hyundai Xcent : First Drive review

  • Apr 01, 2014
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Accent was one of the first products from Hyundai in India after the Santro. The Accent was launched in 1999 and immediately went onto becoming a hit in the market. But as time passed by, the Accent began to lose it’s charm. Honestly, as time moved on, there wasn’t much that the car offered in terms of features or safety. In fact, even the looks didn’t see any drastic changes. When Hyundai first launched the Verna in 2006, the limelight from the Accent started fading away. Hyundai did not discontinue the car then because it was still in good demand, if not great, especially in the commercial segment.

Come 2011, Hyundai launched the all new fluidic design Verna on one hand and a stripped out ‘Executive Edition’ of the Accent on the other. The dated, rather outdated, Accent knew its last days were near and in 2013 we said goodbye to the Accent. But Hyundai didn’t leave a void in their line-up considering how well they are doing currently. Though the Indian car market saw a shift of interest from sedans to crossovers and entry-level SUVs, the entry-level compact sedan segment is still very hot. And that is exactly why you are reading this article, it’s the story of the Hyundai “Xcent” (read Accent with a slight emphasis on X), an all-new entry-level sedan.



How does it look?

The new Hyundai Xcent is surely is easy on the eyes. It doesn’t sweep you off your feet like the Verna but it does manage to make a good impression in the first meeting itself. The Xcent stands at a total length of 3,995 mm with a wheelbase of 2,425 mm, longer than the Honda Amaze (current hot competition) and almost the same as the Dzire (segment leader). It is a substantially tall car too with a height of 1,520 mm which is again very close to the rivals but at 1,660 mm, it’s not as wide as them.On the design front, the not-so-new-design-philosophy of Hyundai works well here. It looks a lot like the Grand i10 with its downward sloping bonnet and swept back headlamps. The only difference is an addition of a chrome border around the air dam. The side profile again is a reflection of the Grand i10. It has a sharp shoulder line running across from the fender to the rear lamp. Just like the Grand i10 it also gets plastic cladding on the lower side of the doors.



It’s good to see the way the boot blends into the rear. It does not look like something added later to make a sedan.Hyundai had a sedan in mind when they launched the Grand i10 and the design of the boot reflects that. The tail lamps with a strip of chrome look simple yet elegant. There is a strip of chrome just over the number plate for the extra bling! The engine badging of VTVT and CRDi is not on the rear but on the side. The top variants of the Xcent get 15 inch diamond cut alloys which stand out and look quite good on the car.



And on the inside?

Step inside the car and you feel a sense of richness. The dash comes in a dual tone of beige and black and the layout is simple and very user friendly. The stereo neatly flows into the dash and the buttons are placed very conveniently for both driver and front passenger. The 2-din music system comes with 1 GB of storage space (higher versions) and has USB, Aux-In, Bluetooth and CD compatibility. The steering wheel gets controls for the stereo and Bluetooth telephony. The top variant or the SX also gets a fully automated air conditioning system while the entry and S variant get manual air-con.



Hyundai has taken care of small things while designing this cabin and it shows. All three trims get front power windows while the S and SX (mid and top) get all four power windows. All trims also get a front passenger vanity mirror and a cooled glove box. The S and SX versions get electrically adjustable and foldable side view mirrors. What we were driving was the SX(O) variant which comes with very impressive features like Keyless entry and push button start/stop and a rear view camera with display. The front row seats are comfortable with good lumbar and under thigh support. The seats come with manual settings for adjust.



The driver information display offers door ajar warning, low fuel warning, seat-belt warning and gear shift indicator. You also get a dual trip-meter and average vehicle speed display. However, average fuel economy display and outside temperature display are sorely missing. We strongly feel that the former can really help a driver alter his driving habits to extract that extra few hundred metres from every litre of fuel.



The second row has enough space to seat 3 adults. The top variant gets a rear arm rest with cup holders. Again a very thought about feature for the rear seat passengers are the ac vents and power outlets. It’s when you drive around in peak Indian summers when you realize how necessary rear a/c vents are and they do the job well. The seats are comfortable and there is enough head room for taller passengers as well. Although rear leg and knee room is same as the Grand i10, the bench is reclined further for added comfort.



The Hyundai Xcent also comes with best in class boot space of 407 litres. In the competition, the Honda Amaze comes close to it with a capacity of 400 litres but the Dzire is way behind.



Engine, Performance and Fuel Economy

This is an area where you might have second thoughts about the Hyundai Xcent but don’t judge it too soon. The 1.1 litre diesel engine is smaller than the 1.5 litre Honda Amaze motor or the 1.3 litre engine in the Swift Dzire, but it’s not a battle lost. The engine is small in capacity but manages to do a good job and as compared to the Grand i10, this motor develops an extra 20Nm of torque. There is a bit of lag and it is slow to respond before the turbo kicks in, which is at about 1,700 rpm. The strong point of this 1.1 litre U2 CRDi motor is the mid-range. From 1,750 rpm to 2,500 the engine is a delight to drive and post that the car seems to run out of breath. Push it hard though and the little diesel motor will propel the Xcent to speedometer indicated speeds of over 150km/h.



You do tend to hear little bit of engine noise filtering into the cabin but overall it’s a quiet motor for a small capacity diesel. It makes a grunt only when you push beyond the 4,000 rpm mark. The clutch is light and there's not much to complain.

Overall, the cabin of the diesel Xcent is much quieter than the Honda Amaze diesel and the Dzire. The Hyderabad highway, where we were driving the car is one of the best highways to drive on with the tarmac absolutely even and traffic light. We believe the mid-range torquey drive will serve best in the city when you anyway can’t go beyond the 60-70 km/h mark. The 1.1 litre U2 CRDi is balanced and also promises fuel economy of 24.4 km to the litre as per ARAI.



There is also the second generation 1.2 litre petrol motor in the Hyundai Xcent. The petrol motor is the same as the Grand i10 with no change in power and torque figures. This 1.2 litre motor has a power output of 83PS at 6,000 rpm and a torque of 114 Nm at 4,000 rpm.

This is a relatively peppy motor when compared to the competition. Accelerate the car a little and it’s happy to do higher speeds for you. It responds well and is fun to drive when you are in the mood. It is a motor that does you good duty when driving in the city and an equally good job on the highway as well. The petrol engine is quite refined n there's little noise that filters into the cabin. The car behaves well at high speeds though the steering begins to feel lighter as the speed goes up. At a speed of beyond 110 km/h, it does seem like an under confident car, but then again, we don't really hit those speeds in daily drives.



The Hyundai Xcent petrol and diesel motors are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Gear shifts are smooth and for those who are fuel efficiency conscious, the info display keeps telling you to upshift or downshift for higher efficiency. The ARAI tested figure on the petrol motor is 19.1 km to a litre. There is also a 4-speed automatic transmission (ARAI rating of 16.1 kmpl) in the petrol as well but we did not get a chance to drive that one.



Ride and Handling

The Hyundai Xcent gets the same chassis and suspension set up as the Grand i10. The ride quality is good but the car does not instill much confidence in the driver at higher speeds. In fact, it wobbles somewhat if you have to brake suddenly or change lanes at higher speeds. The steering unit of the Hyundai Xcent is also the same as the Grand i10. It’s light and easy and manoeuvres quite easily in the city.  It’s also easy to park in tight parking spots – the rear camera further aids during such situations.
Ground Clearance of the Xcent is at 165 mm so unless you cross a really high bump, there’s little to worry about.



Safety

The Hyundai Xcent comes with good number of safety features in the top variant. The base or entry variant is stripped off most safety features. In fact, even the mid variant does not get airbags or Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). You have to opt for the S (O) pack for ABS, no airbags still, though it gets a rear defogger, immobiliser, front fog lamps and parking sensors. The top variant or the SX variant gets airbags as standard but it’s the optional pack that you will have to take to complete the safety package with ABS.



Verdict!

The Hyundai Xcent is not a car for the enthusiasts. It’s a car for the masses. It offers prospective customer immense value for money. The Xcent is loaded with features which would appeal to younger buyers and at the same time, it has the ability to take your complete family from point A to point B comfortably. When we look at this car, it ends up convincing us as a whole package. It’s a car that has been designed keeping in mind the comfort of all 5 passengers that might travel in it.



With a starting price of 4.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the petrol and Rs 5.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the diesel, the Hyundai Xcent is a ‘more’ complete and value for money package than it’s direct competitors the Honda Amaze and the Maruti Suzuki Dzire. The only problem that we find with the Xcent is the performance, or the lack of it, in the diesel version and ofcourse the lack of enthusiasm in the car. It’s a car for the family, it’s a car for people who want good fuel efficiency and great features in their car. That said, it’s not easy to take on the likes of Honda Amaze and Maruti Dzire but the Xcent for sure has the capacity to give them sleepless nights in the months to come!

Read how the Xcent fares against it's rivals in out compact sedan shootout- Hyundai Xcent vs Honda Amaze vs Maruti Swift DZire
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