Hyundai Santro Smart Auto AMT First Drive Review The Santro is back with a bang with an all-new Smart Auto AMT transmission


HYUNDAI SANTRO was undoubtedly one of the most loved family cars in India. The car was discontinued by the Korean manufacturer but has made a comeback in 2018.

The new Santro is back with a bang with an all-new Smart Auto AMT transmission. We got a chance to drive the car in Bhubaneswar recently and here’s our first drive review of this modern tall boy design car.

Hyundai Santro Design

In terms of design, Hyundai has put in all the effort to make it look 2018-ready for the new age Indian consumers. It still has a tall boy design with a spacious cabin. On the front, it gets a cascade design grill with chrome which in the last few years has become the design language for Hyundai cars.

The bonnet also gets a few bold character lines and the rear gets a dual-tone bumper with unique tail lamps. Compared to the old Santro the new one is bigger, wider and more spacious.

The new Santro’s wheelbase measures at 2,400 mm thanks to the K1 platform on which the car is based and the company also uses 165/70 part 14-inch steel wheels. We would have loved to see alloys on the top end variant but Hyundai is not offering it as of now on the Santro.

The higher seating position and tall-boy design also mean easy ingress and regress for passengers as well as the driver. Overall, in terms of design, the car looks modern, premium and sleek.

Hyundai Santro Interiors

Hyundai cars are always known for their feature-rich cabins and the Santro is no different. In terms of the interior equipment, you feel like you’re sitting inside a car that’s a segment above what it’s intended to be.

The Santro comes with a dual-tone beige and black interior unless you are buying the Diana green variant where you get black interiors with Diana green inserts.

The AC vent sports a propeller design that gives the cabin a sporty appeal. It also has rear-AC vents, a segment first and is fast becoming a standard offering on almost every Hyundai car.

The seats are well cushioned and are comfortable to sit on for long hours. The cabin is airy and you see a lot of the outside world while sitting inside it. There is also ample leg and shoulder room both in the front as well as the back seats of the all-new Santro.

The central control is also ergonomically placed with everything within reach giving easy access to the driver.  The power-window controls, however, are centrally placed behind the gear shifter on the vehicle and take time getting used too.

But what was a little overwhelming and impressive for us was the infotainment system. The 17.64 cm touchscreen display at the central console of the Santro is unique in terms of its touch experience as well as the sound quality.

This is one of those music systems that really does not require an aftermarket sub-woofer. The clarity is amazing even at higher volumes and there is ample bass to satisfy your music needs.

The touchscreen display also doubles up as the viewfinder for the rear parking camera on the car. And yes, it does come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone connectivity. It’s easily the best infotainment system that one can find in this segment in India.

Apart from all this, you also get things like Remote Keyless Entry, Outside Rear View Mirror (ORVM) with Electrical Adjustment, Day & Night Inside Rear View Mirror (IRVM), Rear Defogger, Rear Wiper with washer, USB port and a 12 V Power Outlet.

Overall in terms of interior build quality, there is nothing more one can ask from a car at this price point.

Hyundai Santro Safety

One of the biggest concerns with the entry-level cars in India is the safety. Though we will be waiting for the Euro NCAP safety rating on this car, right now Hyundai has done its best to pack the Santro with ABS and EBD as standard along with dual-front airbags with a standard driver airbag. The car also has impact-sensing auto door unlock which is a first in this segment.

However, Hyundai also claims that the Superior K1 Platform along with the application of 63% Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) + High Strength Steel (HSS), helps the Santro achieve prominent Static & Dynamic stiffness with improved structural connectivity making it a Strong Body Structure.

Hyundai Santro Drive and Ride Quality

The new 2018 Santro packs in a powerful 4-cylinder 1.1-litre petrol engine that offers 69ps of power at 5.500 rpm and 99.04nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. This might not sound all that great on paper but once you look at the figures on a car like the Celerio or the Kwid you know that the Santro offers more power and torque than its present competition in India.

This is also helpful and confidence-boosting for the driver who would not be jittery about taking a long highway trip in the Santro. The car is sufficiently powerful and has the pull to give its driver assurance of completion when it comes to a high speed overtaking manoeuver.

We drove the Smart Auto AMT variant of the Santro for this review and the 5-speed AMT transmission offers quicker shifts than the competition AMT out there.

The rubber band effect is also quite minimal on the new Santro and we would like to mention here that Hyundai has done a fantastic job in developing this AMT system in-house rather than sourcing it for the Santro. This is an AMT transmission that we would not be surprised to see on the Grand i10 in the near future.

Hyundai also claims a fuel efficiency of 20.03 km/l on the AMT version of the Santro, however during our drive in the city, highway and traffic conditions yielded us a fuel economy of 15 km/l. The Smart Auto AMT on the Santro also comes with the creep function that’s missing on cars like the Renault Kwid and others in this segment.

The new-Santro is definitely a city car, but even if you throw it a highway challenge, it will not shy away. In fact, it is way better for highway driving when compared to cars like the Celerio, Wagon-R and the Kwid. Even the ride comfort is decent and the seats keep you comfortable at all the time. You do however feel a bit of a roll at high speeds on the Santro.

What we didn’t like were the brakes that were a bit spongy and can be bettered by engineers at Hyundai. Also, what is soon to become standard on all cars in India, the Santro comes with a single warning sound at 80 km/h and constantly keeps beeping once you are over 120 km/h. This is a road compliance issue more than a car issue on the new Santo.

Overall the new Santro is way more powerful and comfortable than the competition out there. Even the driving position on the Santro is commanding and feels more like a mini SUV than a hatchback.


Hyundai’s all-new Santro begins at Rs 3,89,900 ex-showroom in India for the D-Lite version and tops at Rs 5,46,900 doe tight Sportz AMT variant. There are also two-factory fitted CNG options on the Santro that are priced at Rs 5,23,900 for the Magna edition and Rs 5,64,900 for the Sportz. Check out the price list below.

These might seem expensive for an almost entry-level family car in India. But considering the quality of plastics used inside the cabin, the sturdiness of the body and loads of segment-first equipment, you won’t be buying an entry-level vehicle, but a car that’s a segment above than what Hyundai intended for it to be in.

Having said that, it is also a car that has a long-standing legacy of reliability, nostalgia and emotional attachment for many in the country, and that’s what makes the Santro a car that cannot be ignored.




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