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Hyundai’s new turbo-petrol motor makes their entire range of cars and SUVs so much more fun to drive, giving enthusiasts just what they’ve been waiting for!
Fun-to-drive could soon become the norm rather than the exception. Nothing in recent memory has promised to shake up the world of the automotive enthusiast than what we are currently witnessing — and Hyundai India has emerged at the forefront. We are talking about turbos, specifically turbo-petrol engines. Yes, they have been around for a really long time, but factors like cost and affordability meant they were never front and centre on the Indian buyers' mind. In fact, some manufacturers have even gone on to say turbo-petrols are too expensive to make and too expensive to run and even claimed there wasn’t enough demand to put these high-tech engines into production in India. And now Hyundai is proving them wrong!
Hyundai has taken it upon itself to reshape the automotive space in India, especially for us enthusiasts. Hyundai is not the first to offer a turbo-petrol but they’re the first to go through the time, effort and expense to locally manufacture the 1.0 turbo charged direct-injection petrol engine in India. This is the most high-tech petrol engine to be manufactured in India and the acceptance for it has been far better than anticipated, encouraging India's second largest carmaker to offer it across their core models. It started with the Hyundai Venue that was launched last year and continues with turbo-petrol variants being offered in the Aura, the Grand i10 Nios, the Creta and now the Verna. The upcoming i20 will receive a turbo-petrol motor as well. Hyundai India have found a way to make turbo-petrols successful in the market — something other marquees have never really been able to achieve.
Stricter BS6 emission norms have, in many ways, necessitated the move but the company has done a lot more than just introduce cleaner powertrains to the Indian market. Hyundai has introduced the Indian automotive enthusiast to affordable, fun, performance-oriented turbo-petrol powered cars. 'Turbo' is the new buzzword for enthusiast-friendly cars. Currently there are two turbo-petrol engines in the company's lineup – a 1-litre, three-cylinder unit in two different states of tune (100bhp in the Aura and Grand i10 NIOS and 120bhp in the Venue and Verna) and a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder unit producing 140bhp (in the Creta). More importantly, Hyundai India have democratised turbo-petrols by way of six key attributes apart from the engines themselves.
A turbo-petrol motor in a sub-four metre compact sedan? Hyundai has injected fun into a segment where performance has never been the focus. We spent quite a few days with the turbo’d Aura and are pleased to report that Hyundai has found the balance between backseat comfort — coveted in the segment — and performance. And the response to the Aura has led Hyundai to put the engine in the Grand i10 NIOS — which should make it the affordable fast-hatch that Indian enthusiasts have been clamouring for. Both cars are in a segment that first-time car buyers often look to. This has made fun, powerful cars accessible to a large number of enthusiasts. In addition, the compact dimensions and ever-improving dynamics make Hyundai's new crop of cars inherently fun to drive.
Hyundai India's most recent products are feature-laden and tech-heavy to the extent that they are often class benchmarks. The Grand i10 NIOS that we reviewed a few months ago was so well-equipped that in a head-to-head comparison it came up trumps over the segment leader from a class above. Evidently, the company has packaged the turbo-petrol variants such that they are head and shoulders above their competition when it comes to the features they offer. This makes the overall package stand out as a great one. For instance, even in the Venue and the Creta, the turbo-petrol is available in wellequipped variants and it is hard to not recommend them.
What can truly mar the driving experience that comes with a great engine? A lazy gearbox. The fact that Hyundai India is only packaging the turbo-petrol motors with a DCT twin-clutch automatic or a manual, says a lot about how the company is keen on offering an immersive driving experience to enthusiasts. The DCTs in the Venue and the Creta are bonafide benchmarks and add another dimension to the driving experience. The paddle shifters on the Creta elevate the experience even further and are a segment first, something Hyundai does very often. The manual transmission on the other hand ensures that there is added engagement for enthusiasts. The Grand i10 NIOS and the Aura turbo-petrol variants can only be had with a manual and allow seasoned drivers to extract the most performance from them.
Hyundai could have just put in a turbo-petrol engine and left everything else unchanged — like some of their rivals have done. But they went a step ahead. The turbo-petrol variants might not look vastly different from the other variants in the lineup but there are subtle aesthetic additions that do make an impact. The red-stitching, red accents and 'turbo' badging on the headrests in the cabin of the turbo-petrol variants is something that will bring a smile to your face every time you step foot in one. On the outside, the 'Turbo' badging announces the sportier credentials and then there are elements that you might not even notice. For instance, the grille in an Aura Turbo is finished in black instead of grey — bragging rights for enthusiasts. And the Creta Turbo has twin exhaust tips and gun metal grey alloys to distinguish it from other variants.
Now this isn't exactly at the top of an enthusiast's mind when picking a car, but it is something that makes a huge impact on how many people opt for a turbo-petrol. Sure, everyone would love a quick and fun-to-drive car, but would everyone be willing to forego good fuel economy in the bargain? Truth is that very few people are willing to own higher performance cars with poor fuel economy — at least when it comes to cars that sell in large numbers. Heck, even among luxury car buyers, fuel economy is a critical factor that affects buying decisions. Hyundai India has us covered though. The new Verna turbo-petrol's ARAI fuel efficiency figures are higher than that of the naturally aspirated petrol motors! It's the same with the Venue. Fuel economy figures of the turbo’d Creta, the Grand i10 NIOS and the Aura are very close to their naturally aspirated brethren. This ensures that more buyers will be (and are!) tempted to buy into the more powerful option.
While other manufacturers thought that turbo-petrol engines wouldn't be viable or popular enough to produce locally, Hyundai has demonstrated that they can be. The company's turbo petrol variants are in fact competitively priced and are often lower than or on par with their diesel siblings. Hyundai has achieved this through a high-degree of localisation and economies of scale (certainly helped by the ever-increasing large volumes that the company has been witnessing — the turbo-petrol Venue is among the highest selling variants of the compact SUV). Demand, as a result, has been skyrocketing for these variants.
Now, all these attributes create a compelling case for Hyundai India's turbo-petrol powered cars. And that makes it easy for us to recommend these cars to everyone. And we still haven't said a word about the engines. They are unlike anything in the respective segments of the cars they are in. Both the three-cylinder and four-cylinder motors are rev-happy and seem to enjoy chasing the redline. The wide powerband is extremely useful while driving through the city – the turbo kicks in at around 1800rpm and there is a surge of power all the way to 6000rpm. All that and the distinctly sporty growl – the engines themselves are thoroughly enjoyable.
Yes, only enthusiasts are likely to go into a dealership looking for a turbo-petrol motor under the hood of their next car. But buyers in general too will be easily swayed by all that these cars have to offer and it got us thinking. Hyundai could have taken the easy way out and offered a couple of models targeted at enthusiasts that are far more expensive — thus keeping the enthusiasts happy and offering less powerful cars at lower prices to everyone else. But they have made a brave decision to make these turbo-petrol variants a key part of their lineup. Now, when someone walks into a Hyundai dealership looking for a new car, they are likely to be drawn towards the turbo-petrol.
Hyundai India has to be applauded for this. They are giving everyone a taste of fun and enthusiastic cars by making them a key part of their business strategy. As a result, us enthusiasts now have the choice to not drive the drab, uninspiring cars that we often end up choosing as our daily drivers. But all this amounts to a bit more than just that. Two decades ago, the VTEC arrived on our shores and changed the game when it came to performance cars in India. Tuners lapped it up and turned them into fast, enjoyable cars. That's how a number of enthusiasts got a first taste of how fun driving a car geared towards performance could be. Its popularity as a tuner favourite was because it was a car that sold in the numbers and was affordable while being inherently fun to drive. Guess what, there is a brand today that sells cars in large numbers, offers enthusiastic drivetrains on all of their cars and makes an effort to make their cars fun to drive. Thanks to Hyundai’s focus on turbo-petrols the future sure looks good for us petrolheads!