What is it?
Why would I buy it?
More power and better drivability
Why would I avoid it?
Debatable looks and not very engaging to drive
What is it?
This is the turbo petrol version of the Hyundai Aura that was introduced at the start of this year. It looks very much like the regular Aura compact sedan but gets a powerful petrol engine from the Venue compact SUV. How much does that help its performance? We find out.
Its design is like the standard Aura, which in turn borrows cues from the Grandi10 Nios. Yet, there are a handful of changes to this trim. This includes a turbo badge on the grille, which gets a black surrounding accent that looks better than the grey one on the standard variant. On the other hand, I still don't like the rear section with a high boot, kink on the shoulder-line and the black part connecting the roof to the boot. Otherwise, the LED tail lamps though large, look good like the funky alloys and the nose with black grille, double boomerang-shaped DRLs and sweptback projector headlamps.
How is it on the inside?
Similar to the Nios' layout and design, the Aura Turbo's cabin looks pleasing with fine quality of materials and good fit and finish. It's even more interesting with the single unit binnacle housing both the 5.3-inch instrument cluster and the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Also, the hexagonal patterns and textures here are mostly finished in black with some ivory white accents adding to the appeal. Then, the circular air vents and air-con controls get red surrounds which match with the red stitching on the black seats. The intention here was to make it look sportier and Hyundai has fairly succeeded in this. Yet, the sense of space one gets with a lighter interior is sorely missed, especially in the second row not meant for three occupants. However, it’s reasonably spacious for two and is equipped with comfortable seats providing adequate support.
Otherwise, as it goes for most Hyundai cars, this one's ergonomic cabin is also packed with many features and storage slots that suit the needs of today's youth. It further gets automatic climate control, rear AC vents, engine start/stop button, keyless entry, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, driver side height adjustment, two airbags and an electrically adjustable, folding outside mirrors amongst many others. In fact, segment-first features like a digital instrument cluster with MID, air curtain, wireless charging and Arkamys premium sound make it stand apart from its competitors. Sure it doesn't get automatic headlamps and rain-sensors, but then offers more practical features like smartphone connectivity, rear parking camera with sensors, a cooled glove-box and fast-charging USB slots. That said, this particular trim does miss out on cruise control, auto anti-glare IRVM and the leather wrapped steering and gear knob.
How does it drive?
Now unlike the 120bhp motor in the Venue, this same 1.0-litre three-cylinder mill produces 99bhp and 175Nm in the Aura. The former also gets a six-speed gearbox, while this Aura's unit is a five-speed manual one. But don’t just dismiss it yet. What one will appreciate is that the engine is still quiet at idling and one can barely hear it at low revs. It comes alive post the 1,500rpm mark while revving cleanly to 6,500rpm. However, a strong tug can be felt only post 1,700rpm as the turbo spools in and provides a good boost. The engine does sound good till 4,000rpm post which it only gets more vocal. However, revving so much will seldom be the case as it does the job effectively between 2,000-3,500rpm. Also at 1020kg this is a light car and with an immediate throttle response it moves quickly too. Sure newer drivers might be taken aback by the slight torque steer, but the actual surprise will be the way it sprints quickly.
I love the way it pulls itself away from the traffic. It doesn't require you to frequently change gears. Even on the highway in top gear you can just calmly cruise around doing 100kmph at around 2,000rpm. The clutch is light and though the gear shifts are not silky smooth, the throws are short and precise too. All of this also helps when you want to make a speedy overtake and can quickly shift on to a lower gear. However, in our fuel economy tests, it returned a fuel efficiency of 12.56kmpl on our city run and 17.83kmpl on the highway. Though not very impressive, it still isn't quite off its ARAI-rated claim of 20.5kmpl.
As for the ride, the Aura's suspension feels quite solid to take on our road conditions. It never scraped any of the speed-breakers we took it on to and that’s commendable for a sedan. Then, low speed bump absorption is good but you can still feel the surface imperfections. Sure there’s not a big thud even when traversing bad roads or over potholes; but we think Hyundai still could have managed a better balance with the McPherson struts in the front and coupled torsion beam axle at the back. Especially when the car gathers speed, the rear feels bouncy. And it does continue to induce vertical movements as you go faster beyond 100kmph. Otherwise, below this mark occupants will not feel that uncomfortable over these road undulations.
Coming to the handling bit, the light controls make it easy-to-drive and even make it feel safe and secure at high speeds on the highway. That said, its handling is exactly what you’d expect from a front-wheel drive compact sedan. Go faster around corners and it will understeer. Sure there’s no kickback from the light steering, but it could have been tuned for better feedback especially to appease the enthusiast. Wish it had stickier and broader tyres too than the current 175/60 section MRF rubber on the 15-inch wheels. Even so, under panic braking they still do a good job along with the front ventilated discs and rear drum brakes. These provide enough bite and progression to stop the car with confidence.
Should I buy one?
If you are already convinced by the looks of the Aura, you will surely like its spacious cabin for four packed with a lot of equipment. Do take note that unlike the six exterior colour options for the standard Aura, this one is sold only in red, white and silver. And, if all of this is secondary and what matters to you most is the powerful engine, then you’ll be amazed by how quick this car is while also having great drivability. You will have to be the one who prefers driving stick shift though, as there’s no automatic version of this turbo-petrol yet. Also, it isn’t as engaging as an enthusiast would expect it to be, but it does qualify as your everyday family car with that extra zest.
Where does it fit in?
At an ex-showroom price of Rs 8.55 lakhs, this Aura turbo-petrol slots itself in the compact sedan segment alongside the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Honda Amaze, Tata Tigor etc. However, apart from the Tata Tigor JTP, this Aura is the only other compact sedan available as a turbo-petrol.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi