It’s no secret that Hyundai is one of the manufacturers responsible for the wide-ranging popularity of SUVs in India. With Creta and Venue, they created new segments, and virtually all their SUVs are among the top sellers in their respective segments. Now, after the success of the Tata Punch, it was known for a while that Hyundai is working on a product smaller than the Venue to compete in that segment. And why would Hyundai want to compete in a segment like this? The answer to that lies in the sales numbers that the Punch generates for Tata and also, the current fad for SUVs of all sizes and shapes. Hyundai clearly thinks that huge sales numbers are possible, and this is a segment that’s going to cannibalise on small hatches and compact sedans. Well, it’s called the Exter, it is finally here. Now, I must say that I am very impressed by its pricing, especially considering that the Exter comes fully loaded, like most Hyundai products. But how about practicality? And does it drive well enough to give the Punch serious competition? Read on to find out.
Hyundai Exter Review: Evolution
If you look at the Exter, you can clearly see that some of its styling elements have evolved from the design language of the Venue and Creta. The headlamp design, for instance, is similar to what the Venue has, and it also features body cladding on its sides to give it more of an SUV look. Some of the new design touches are quite interesting too, such as a small grille up front, which goes against the current fashion of massive grilles. Similarly, the big Exter name on the front is well integrated, and so are the H-shaped daytime running lamps and taillights. Another interesting touch is the texture treatment on the rear panel between the taillights – it adds a sense of uniqueness to the design and complements a similar pattern present on the dashboard. Overall, with its flared arches and 15-inch wheels, the Exter has a pretty good road presence.
Once inside the Exter, you will immediately notice its resemblance to that of the Grand i10 Nios – they both share the same platform and powertrain, with different suspension tuning, of course. Even the dashboard of both cars is quite similar. As you would expect, the Exter features a digital touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster, and both work quite well. The real surprise, though, is the amount of room available inside the Exter – fitting four full-size adults is a breeze. I must say, despite its compact dimensions, Hyundai’s engineers have done a great job in terms of space management, as evidenced by its well-designed and spacious boot. On top of that, the Exter comes with a very high level of standard equipment, along with many segment-first features, such as six airbags on all variants, wireless charger, a sunroof, and LED taillights.
Additionally, the Exter gets rear AC vents, which means that rear passengers will get better comfort when the fully automatic climate control is being used. However, I think another feature that Hyundai has introduced that is bound to become very popular in India is the standard fit Dashcam. The camera – which records both an outside view and inside view – records your driving and the traffic ahead and has already proven very effective in case there is a mishap on the road. In fact, if you, by any chance, capture a dramatic incident captured on dashcam, you may end up with millions of views on YouTube as such video compilations are increadibly popular. Confession time, I’m also a fan of such videos and watch them regularly!
Another highlight of recent vehicles from Hyundai’s line up has been their connectivity and the Exter excels on that front too with the company’s BlueLink service. Using your phone, you can locate your car, controls its various functions and do much more using the connectivity. At the same time, the Exter also comes with Alexa intergration which allows you to perform certain functions through Alexa. And the in-built menus and interface can be used in English and Hindi as well as 12 other native languages, allowing for greater comfort for a wider set of customers. The Exter also comes fitted with an 8-inch multimedia system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster.
Hyundai Exter Review: On the road
Initially, when I looked at the specs of the Exter, I was a bit apprehensive about whether the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine would be powerful enough on the highway. But the moment I fired the engine and pressed the pedal, all my apprehensions vanished. Despite its 82bhp and 114Nm, the Exter is actually quite quick off the line and can do the 0 – 100km/h dash in just 12.6 seconds, which is quite commendable for its segment and for its power output. Whether you are driving it in urban traffic or on the highway, maintaining a good cruising speed is really easy, and you actually enjoy driving the car. The suspension setup is also spot-on – the Exter is excellent on both broken roads and the highway. I also had some reservations about its AMT gearbox – the Exter is offered with a 5-speed manual and AMT gearbox options – but after testing it, I would say that while it’s still a bit on the slow side in terms of shifts, it’s definitely better than some of the earlier AMTs. Moreover, the addition of paddle shifters in the AMT version really makes driving a much easier job. I have always found that manual shifting an AMT is the best way to optimise its performance – since you still don’t have the clutch, shifting no long is a hassle, enhancing the overall driving experience.
Hyundai Exter Review: Value Proposition
Honestly speaking, if you’re looking for a small runabout for urban traffic, or even for the occasional highway trip, the Exter is actually quite a fantastic product. The space inside is commendable, given its 3.8-metre length, and it is very practical for four adults, enough to even accommodate their luggage for a weekend trip. Plus, Hyundai has smartly fitted it with virtually most features that you would require, and the safety standards are also top notch, given its standard six airbags. While Hyundai officials refused to confirm when I asked them during the drive, I think they expect to get a five-star safety rating for the Exter.
Pair this with quite a promising driving experience, and I am all but certain that the Exter will be another success for Hyundai. One of the biggest reasons for that is the pricing, which is extremely competitive. And at the same time, you also get the option of manual and automatic gearboxes, along with a CNG version. Hyundai really seems to have covered all the bases and is probably going to have huge waiting lists for the Exter, just like its other SUVs.