What is it?
Why would I buy it?
Good interior fit and finish, loaded with features and light controls.
Why would I avoid it?
Unappealing design, no top-spec AT or turbo petrol AT
With redemption in its mind, this is the all-new Hyundai Aura. It essentially is the second-generation Xcent, but gets an all-new nameplate. And, it is Hyundai’s attempt to reclaim its position in the compact sedan segment that is dominated by the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the Honda Amaze. But is it good? Let's find out.
The Hyundai Aura sports the familiar cascading grille with boomerang-shaped twin-LED DRLs, and we really appreciate how Hyundai has gone for a silver/piano black finish for the grille. The sleek projector headlamps and clamshell bonnet looks sporty, while the first-in-segment projector fog lamps add a neat touch to the fascia.
The profile features a coupe-ish design and the blacked-out C-pillar adds a unique highlight to the side. Then there are purposeful character lines and 15-inch machined alloys that add a sporty 'aura' to it. At the rear, the Z-shaped taillights feature a C-shaped LED signature, while the bumper gets many cuts and creases and a black cladding. Overall, the design of the Aura comes across as busy and a bit overdone. Buyers would either like it or hate it, and I'm on the fence here. However, it does grab your attention, for good or bad, you decide.
How is it on the inside?
The cabin layout is where the Hyundai Aura scores highly. The interiors are well-designed and quite ergonomic, and the fit and finish is best in its segment. The regular variants get classier triple-tone black, brown and grey interiors, while the turbo variant features a sporty all-black trim with red accents on the air-con vents, seats and, door pads and steering. You get an eight-inch touchscreen display replete with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, voice recognition and Bluetooth connection, and there's also wireless charging to add to the convenience. The display is intuitive to use and the touch response is crisp. What’s more, you also get first-in-segment features like cruise control and blind-view monitor.
The well-appointed cabin also offers good seating space. The front seats have good side bolstering and are comfortable too. You also get height adjustability for the driver seat and the view out is excellent too. If anything, we'd have liked better support for the thighs and adjustable headrests. At the rear, the seat base is long, which offers good under-thigh support and the backrest angle is just perfect. There's also a rear armrest, so two people can sit in comfort. However, the Aura being 50mm narrower than the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the shoulder room is in short supply, so seating three adults at the rear becomes uncomfortable. It also gets rear AC vents for added comfort, and the knee, leg and headroom is more than adequate. The boot space of 402 litres is second only to the Honda Amaze, but it is well-shaped and takes weekend worth of luggage with ease. The only negative here is the slightly high loading lip and a lower boot floor means stowing large bags is a task.
How does it drive?
We drove the 1.2-litre petrol manual (five-speed) and the 1.2-litre turbocharged diesel automatic (AMT). There's also a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor. The 1.2-litre petrol motor is refined and very silent at idle. Off the mark, the 82bhp of power comes in linearly with it being particularly good in the mid-range. However, the first three gears are quite tall, so you need to downshift at city crawling speeds. Out on the highway, it is easy to keep up with the vehicles ahead, and if you are in the meat of the power band, then one can overtake easily. The gearbox is sleek to operate, and that combined with the short throws and the light clutch action, makes it a breeze to work.
The three-pot diesel motor, on the other hand, feels refined and is hardly audible until you floor it beyond 3000rpm. In fact NVH in this diesel is well subdued. As for the power delivery, it is quite linear. Sure, it won't wow you with its performance but won't leave you wanting for a whole lot more in most situations. That said, the AMT gearbox is one of the smoothest to operate, and the electric actuators do a good work of reducing the head nod effect, which is typical of an AMT. The best way to counter this is to be easy on the throttle and enjoy the convenience of an AMT. Also, making a quick overtake requires planning as you have to be in the power band to complete the manoeuvre.
As for the handling, the steering is calibrated differently on both the versions. It is quick on the diesel unit with less vagueness at the centre and requires less than three turn’s lock-to-lock. It inspires confidence to take on long corners and making quick directional changes. However, in the petrol version, the steering is slow with more than three turns needed from lock-to-lock. It is also vague at the centre and there's barely any feel or feedback on offer. The ride, however, is soft and absorbent with good damping at both ends. Compared to the Grand i10 Nios, Hyundai seems to have changed the suspensions' spring rates as the car doesn't roll much, and the ride isn't as bouncy either. The ride feels mostly flat and only sharp-edged potholes can be felt inside the cabin.
Should I buy one?
The Hyundai Aura scores highly when it comes to equipment on offer, engine/transmission options and packaging. It comes loaded with segment-best features like wireless charging, driver view monitor, an eight-inch display, cruise control and much more. And this top-spec SX (O) trim undercuts its chief rival - the Maruti Dzire by around Rs 35,000. Sure, the design is busy and may not entice everyone. But, if you can live with it, then you can't go wrong with the Hyundai Aura.
Where does it fit in?
Pictures by Kapil Angane