Grand i10 Nios Turbo offers a peppy commuting option within city limits and is a capable performer as an occasional highway ride as well.
Turbo engines are the flavour of the season and Hyundai is looking at leading the charge. The Korean car maker has seen a positive response for the turbo variants of Venue and Aura for some time now while also offering the 1.0-litre engine in its bigger offering Verna 2020, apart from a bigger 1.4 Turbo in Creta 2020. It was, then, only a matter of time before the company also chose to offer a turbo option in one of its smallest offerings - Grand i10 Nios.
While buyers in a segment or two above Nios would appreciate a more engaging drive but equipping a primarily city commute war horse with a power package seems like both a gamble as well as a shrewd ploy. To better understand which one it is, I got behind the wheels of a test unit and spent three days zipping through Delhi, Gurugram and Noida in peak and off-peak traffic hours.
The 998cc three-cylinder turbo petrol engine inside the Grand i10 Nios is a familiar one because I have already tried the engine in the Venue Turbo. And while certain characteristics were familiar quite immediately, in a car as compact as Nios, it made for a welcome surprise.
While the engine may be the same, Nios Turbo has a little less power than Venue Turbo and puts out 98.63 bhp. This is around 20 bhp less than what the Venue Turbo offers but just don't let the figures make you underestimate the smaller sibling from the Hyundai family which also has 171 Nm of torque at the ready.
Power comes from the word go and the Nios Turbo gets a move on with the exuberance level of a five-year-old inside a Willy Wonka candy store. The smaller proportions, lighter weight and an agile steering all seem to combine to give this car an even better ability to weave in and out on traffic-infested roads. And then some.
On less inhabited city streets and highways, Nios Turbo pushes the bar even higher and can hit triple digits before you can say Hyundai Grand i10 Nios Turbo. The car's straight line dash to 100 kmph may even put some renowned players to shame although I did not feel it necessary to clock a sprint down to the last micro second in the interest of a safer drive.
All of that exuberance and enthusiasm, however, does come with its small share of youthful follies. There is some degree of vibration that is evident inside Nios Turbo's cabin when you push the car aggressively while cornering at high speeds may not be right up its forte as yet. Blame the tyres or the light demeanor of the entire vehicle, occupants will experience body roll to a noticeable degree when Nios Turbo goes in to cut a corner with celerity. And yes, I looked that last word up in the dictionary.
And while speed and the accompanying thrill and roll may be the highs and lows of the Nios Turbo, the five-speed manual gearbox deserves a crown and a jewel. Slick, short and precise, the gearbox is really the Asafa Powell to the Usain Bolt. Ok, the Suresh Raina to the MS Dhoni, if you will. The clutch is light enough to allow for brisk shifts but the shift ranges themselves are so long that I often forgot I am still in the third gear but the car has touched 80 kmph. Indeed, if mileage is not the foremost thing on your mind, stay a gear lower than you would otherwise and soak in the most that the mechanics have to offer.
And then there is a steering that is light enough to play the perfect third fiddle. A vast majority of drivers prefer a set up that offers more feedback from the steering and this has always been a complaint against Hyundai cars. And while the newer offerings from the company have managed to address this to some extent, I am personally glad Nios Turbo retains a steering that is light which enhances its nimble character and helps the in-and-out of traffic bit I mentioned above.
Nios Turbo has a familiar and practical cabin with the main emphasis remaining on features and space. The dash of red on the AC vents, AC control buttons and for the upholstery stitches and taping are a nice - even if purely cosmetic - touch. Much of everything is within reach and storage spaces are aplenty.
In terms of creature comforts, the car gets an eight-inch infotainment screen, a 5.3-inch digital instrument cluster, rear AC vents, rear 12V charging point and USB, headlight height adjuster, among others.
What's missing though is an engine start/stop button - a big skip, rear wiper and key-less entry functionality.
Nios Turbo is based on Nios Sportz variant and just in case you miss that, there is an all-new badge on the boot door to remind you. Yes, one more badge which makes the boot - already littered with badges - seem a bit cluttered.
Aside from that, the Nios looks cutely sharp as ever with its projector head lights, large grille with the Turbo badge and DRLs mounted prominently, dual-tone colour option and 15-inch alloys.
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios Turbo is priced at ₹7.68 lakh (ex showroom). This is almost a lakh over the Nios Sportz dual-tone variant and almost as much as the AMT Asta. And this is where my biggest concern pertaining the Nios Turbo is at. While it does offer a whole lot of fun when it comes to the drive dynamics and is peppy enough to cater to the casual enthusiasts in this segment, the rather steep premium over most other variants may put off prospective buyers. Would I love to drive the Nios Turbo regularly? Sure. Would I want to pay the additional premium for it? Not sure. Not yet.