The sub-4 metre compact sedan segment has always been a tough one to crack, and that’s not just because of the intense competition in the segment. Given the strange size limitations enforced by our government, the cars sold in the segment are not only limited in terms of their length but also in terms of engine sizes. And a sedan based on a small hatchback platform, with small engines, hardly makes for a firecracker of a product.
Now, this puts the Aura in a difficult situation, and its styling doesn’t do it any favours – which is one of the reasons for its low scores in our test – for it’s challenging to look at, at the very least. I remember when I first saw the design sketches of the Aura, I was rather excited by the sleek and sporty sedan body that its designers had conjured up. But, as is often the case, production realities changed the designers’ vision into something that only vaguely resembles the svelte lines on paper.
The rear-end of the car, in particular, with its strangely shaped transparent taillamps and that weirdly protruding boot, doesn’t make for a harmonious design. Now, the same shape looks much better in the case of the Grand i10 Nios – a car that the Aura is based on. I think it’s the addition of the boot that makes the Aura look rather ungainly. And this is reflected in the Aura’s score chart – it scored only 1.5 out of the maximum 5 points in the design category.
Unfortunately for the Aura, its engine – the 1.2-litre diesel mill, producing 74bhp – doesn’t do much to help its case either. True, the power seems adequate for normal use but when you want to extract some performance from it, the engine just about delivers. This is directly reflected in the Aura’s 1:18.7 lap time. Naturally, this not only hurts the Aura’s performance score but also its X-Factor score.
Lastly, given the Aura’s positioning and competition, the jury members were simply not impressed. From its challenging design aesthetic to its strange interior colour scheme, the Aura is more of an acquired taste. Hyundai, for the past many years, has been producing stellar products, which are more often than not at the top of their class, but the Aura seems to be an aberration of sorts – a rare case of a Hyundai product that misses the mark.