The Hyundai Xcent hasn’t been a blockbuster product for the Korean carmaker. Sure, it sells around 2,500 units or thereabouts on a monthly basis, which is exactly what most other compact sedans like the Ford Aspire, the Tata Zest and the Volkswagen Ameo sell. So, no fire there.
But, when you consider that Hyundai has the second largest market share in the passenger car segment, and most of its other successful models (read the Grand i10 and the Creta) sell in excess of 10,000 units a month, one simply can’t term the Xcent a success. Hyundai, understandably, wants to change that.
Right on cue then, three years after the Xcent was first launched, here’s the facelifted version of the car. Hyundai believes, with the styling changes and the addition of a few more features, the Xcent now has what it takes to get the cash registers ringing. Lets find out…
The big changes on the new Xcent are on the outside. It gets a new, more aggressive looking front bumper that also holds an all-new, chrome-garnished grille. The idea here is to make the Xcent look more like the Verna and the Elantra instead of the Grand i10 upon which the compact sedan is based. And with it, the car brings in an air of elegance to the design. There’s no change to the headlamp, but the fog lamps are new and the new Xcent gets LED DRLs too.
The rear styling sees a significant change as well. The tail lamps now run into the boot lid and add visual width to the car. The boot lid itself has been completely redesigned and is less curvaceous than before. It gets a chrome strip and along with a flatter looking bumper, it gives the Xcent much-needed freshness.
There’s no change to the profile of the car, including the alloy wheel design, which is carried as is. But, look closer and you’ll see the addition of the ‘shark-fin’ antenna instead of a regular one.
The changes on the inside are pretty limited in comparison. The fabric design for the seats, front and rear, is new; the steering gets a button for voice activation; and there’s a new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The latter also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to give the user better in-car connectivity.
Otherwise, the climate control, the rear AC vents, the electric function for the ORVMs, keyless entry and start, and the plethora of stowage spaces inside the cabin are identical to the previous model. What also remains the same is the interior room on offer. The Xcent can hold four adults in comfort, the seats are reasonably large and supportive, and the ingress though not as high as some tallboy design hatchbacks, is still acceptable by sedan standards.
The new Hyundai Xcent comes with two engine options – a petrol and a diesel. Both are mated to a 5-speed gearbox. The petrol is the same 1.2-litre Kappa 2 from the older car, but the diesel is a new engine. It’s a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine that develops 75bhp of max power. It does, however, have substantially more torque compared to the older 1.1-litre diesel the previous car came with.
Our test car is the 1.2 diesel. And the improvement in performance, especially in the low to mid engine rev range, is very perceptible. The throttle response is sharper, the turbo lag is less apparent, and it’s much easier to overtake with the new car than the older diesel powered Xcent. Now the new engine might rev up to 5,000rpm but it’s best to upshift at 4,000rpm to extract the best drivability from the car. Plus, the higher you rev the engine, the more granular and louder it sounds.
In terms of ride and handling, the new Xcent is pretty similar to the older car. So, the ride at low speeds is quiet and comfortable but it does get noisy and a bit harsh at higher speeds and over poor roads. The handling, thanks to the lack of connect from both the steering and the chassis in general, is not the most involving. The new Xcent will go around bends without feeling wayward or loose, yes, but it’s not something you look forward to like you would in the Amaze or even the Dzire.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||75 @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||190 @ 1750-2250|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||43|
|Tyre size||175/60 R15|
|15-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels||Yes|
|Apple CarPlay / Android Auto||Yes|
|Rear AC vents||Yes|
|Music system with USB, aux, four speakers||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp)||75 @ 4000||75 @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm)||190 @ 1750-2250||190 @ 2000|
|Gears||five-speed manual||five-speed manual|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||43||42|
|Tyre size||175/60 R15||185/65 R15|
There were two big challenges for the new Hyundai Xcent to overcome before it could set the sales charts on fire. First, was uninteresting styling, which you would agree with us, has been sorted. The new Xcent not only looks fresh, it also has an air of premiumness to it now.
The second issue was the sales in the taxi segment. I don’t know about other cities, but in Mumbai, every second taxi is an Xcent. Naturally, not many people wanted to associate with a car that was being used as public transport. But Hyundai says it will not put the new Xcent on the taxi market? but would instead continue to sell the older model to feed that demand.
On both counts then, the Xcent seems to be on good footing. But, will that translate into higher sales? Only time will tell. In the meantime, if you are looking at buying one, our suggestion would be to go for it; you can’t really go wrong with this one.