It is quick! And not because the earlier diesel Grand i10 was a laggard. Apart from the tweaks on the outside and the new touchscreen multimedia system, the new Grand i10 also boasts of a new, higher capacity, more powerful diesel engine. It’s still a three-cylinder unit as the older 1.1-litre engine, but with the torque rating being significantly higher and tweaked turbo settings, the new car feels much more alive.
Just to bring things in perspective, the Grand i10 1.2D posted a 0-100kmph time of 13.21 seconds making it quicker than even the Swift. Compared to the older Grand, it’s almost seven seconds faster to 100kmph. The difference in in-gear roll-ons (a reflection of the car’s driveability) is equally telling. The new Grand completes the 40-100kmph roll-on in 4th gear in just 12.89 seconds while the older diesel took over 17 seconds. The Grand i10 1.2D also only takes 18.34 seconds to complete the 0-400m run.
Even if we were to keep the times aside, the new car’s throttle response is more alert. And, even though the 1.2-litre diesel doesn’t have the same seamless power delivery characteristic of the older, lesser powerful engine, it’s still quite linear. Moreover, one can finally feel the presence of a turbo under that hood, but its lag is rarely felt. The sweet spot, especially in the city is between 1,500 and 2,500rpm. There’s enough torque to keep up and overtake traffic, the engine remains quiet and vibe free, and though we haven’t tested it yet, this should also result in good fuel economy figures.
Another plus over the older engine is the improvement in the top-end performance. While the older 1.1-litre would start losing steam close to 3,500rpm, the new engine keeps up the momentum till about 4,500rpm, with a slight drop in the rate of acceleration at around 4,000rpm. It makes the new diesel powered Grand i10 a much better highway car as a result.
The only downside is the noise and a hint of vibrations that creep in beyond 3,000rpm. The engine begins to take the typical granular diesel engine note hereon and only gets louder as the revs rise. But lest we forget, we love the shift quality of the gearbox; it has short, crisp and predictable throws. The clutch is a delight to use too, especially in stop and go traffic. It is light and progressive.
The ride and handling characteristic of the car, meanwhile, is almost the same as the older car. So, the new Grand i10 still has a supple and absorbent ride, which gets better with speed. It’s not exactly plush but it is settled and is a big positive for the car. It takes mild bumps, shallow potholes, road ripples and road joints in its stride and there’s no excess wallowing over undulating roads either. It’s only when the road patchiness gets serious that the Grand’s ride gets noisy, and at times a bit thumpy. The latter is especially true for the rear.
Around a twisty road, the vague and artificial feeling steering (mainly around the centre) takes away from the fun factor. The Grand also doesn’t feel very crisp and strong under brakes. And though it never felt nervous or wayward, be it entering a corner and making quick direction changes, it just doesn’t communicate or excite you enough to put a grin on your face. It’s capable, yes, but not a lot of fun.