Hyundai Aura review, test drive
The compact sedan segment is no longer compact, with over nine cars already present in the ring. And now entering the royal rumble, we have the Hyundai Aura. Rivaling the Maruti Dzire, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the sales in this segment, there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a tough battle for the Hyundai Aura to carve some space for its own. What works in the favor of the Aura is that buyers have a wide range of powertrains to choose from all of which are BS6-compliant. There’s an 83hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine from the Nios that also does duty in the Aura, and you also have a 69hp, CNG variant of the same. The diesel engine is also the same as the Nios, but it is in a BS6 avatar for the first time in the Aura. In addition to this, there’s a 100hp, 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that you will also find in the Venue compact SUV, but in a higher state of tune (120hp).
Just like most Hyundai cars we have seen recently, the Aura is loaded with features. And with the Xcent slowly moving into the fleet market, the Aura might just be the car to revive Hyundai’s presence in the segment. So, without further delay, let’s find out what kind of aura does this car have.
What’s it like on the outside?
The Aura’s face is similar to the Grand i10 Nios on which it is based, but there are a few design elements that differentiate the sedan from the hatchback. For starters, the oversized ‘cascading grille’ from the Nios is smaller on the Aura and gets a satin grey surround trim. In the turbo-petrol variant, you get a black surround, which looks much better. The wide grille now also houses double boomerang LED DRLs at the top. Sweptback halogen projector headlamps and the bonnet with aggressive creases have been carried over from the Nios, and they work well here too.
Talking about dimensions, while the length of all the cars in this segment is just shy of four metres, the Aura is narrower than the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Honda Amaze and even the Ford Aspire. In profile, you can see how Hyundai has smartly stretched the Nios’ length without making it feel like just a slap-on boot modification. The 2,450mm long wheelbase is 25mm longer than the Xcent’s, which translates into marginally more cabin space. The roofline merges into the boot nicely and ends in a neat little ducktail spoiler. The rear is where the Aura’s design might polarise opinions. While the LED tail-lights look good, they do seem oversized and don’t go well with the overall design language.
What’s it like on the inside?
The Aura’s cabin is heavily based on the Nios’ cabin with minor changes. The only differentiator from the Nios is the dashboard trim above the glovebox, which comes in a satin bronze finish. The turbo-petrol variant gets an all-black interior theme with red inserts. The seats finished in black with red stitching look great, with the honeycomb pattern on them, and all the other red accents also accentuate the sporty feel of the cabin.
The doors of the Aura open wide and the seats are set at a nice height, which makes ingress and egress quite easy. On the inside, you get a dual-tone black and light grey dashboard with the big 8.0-inch touchscreen taking centre stage. The touchscreen has a very user-friendly layout and is quite responsive as well. While there’s no e-SIM that enables connected car features, you do get the iBlue system that allows you to control the stereo via your smartphone. The touchscreen and the instrument cluster are connected by a piano black trim to make it look like a single unit. High quality materials do make the cabin feel premium and what’s even more important is the fact that the fit and finish levels are impressive too.
The front seats are wide and supportive, but they don’t get adjustable headrests like the Dzire’s. Moreover, the fixed headrests are small, which is uncomfortable for tall drivers. The seats are comfy as the cushioning is on point. However, as the lumbar support is a little excessive it might cause discomfort while driving for long hours. Seated in the rear, the cabin is just marginally roomier than the Xcent’s. In terms of legroom, the Dzire is clearly more spacious, but the Aura doesn’t feel cramped. The long seat squab also provides good under-thigh support. Headroom is adequate for tall passengers however, passengers taller than 6ft might be left wanting for more room. The backrest is set at a nice and comfortable angle and you do get adjustable headrests for rear passengers. A fixed headrest for the middle passenger, like in the Xcent, is missing. The 402-litre boot is quite spacious, but the loading lip is a little high.
The Aura is offered in five variants, and like we’ve said earlier, it is loaded with features. The turbo-petrol and AMT variants are offered in the SX+ trim while the petrol- and diesel-manual variants are offered in the top-end SX(O) trim. While the difference between the two variants is just cosmetic, the SX+ variant misses out on a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob. Talking about features in these two variants, you have an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a 5.3-inch MID screen, wireless phone charger, cruise control (top-end petrol manual only), rear ac vents and a 12V charging socket for rear passengers. In terms of safety, the Aura is equipped with dual airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat anchors, emergency stop signal and rear parking sensors with a camera.
What’s it like to drive?
We got to drive the new 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with a 5-speed manual transmission and the BS6 diesel engine with the 5-speed manual and AMT gearbox. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is quiet at idle, but you can still feel the vibrations on the steering wheel and the pedals. Start driving and you will notice that this motor is quite rev-happy and moves through the range quite willingly. The turbo kicks in early, just above 1,800rpm, and provides a strong surge of power. The best part about this engine is its wide powerband, which makes keeping up with traffic and making quick overtakes easy tasks. The engine starts getting audible as you climb up the rev range and gets quite loud beyond 5,000rpm. But since the power keeps coming in strong till almost 6,000rpm and the engine has a hint of sporty growl to it, enthusiasts won’t mind being in the higher revs. Accompanied by a light clutch and gearbox combination, the turbo-petrol is an easy car to drive in a sedate as well as an enthusiastic manner.
In its BS6 guise, the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder diesel engine is quite refined. At idle, you can hear the diesel clatter though it slowly smoothens out as you start driving. Driving at low speeds isn’t much of a problem as the engine is quite responsive and a strong bottom-end masks turbo lag well. You won’t be shifting through the gears too much while driving through the city. In the mid-range, the engine has good power on tap till 4,000rpm, beyond which it starts losing steam. On the highways while cruising, the diesel runs silently and you won’t have to downshift too often to perform an overtaking manoeuvre. The clutch and gearbox remain effortless and smooth in the diesel variant as well. The AMT unit has a smooth creep function, and while the typical head nod is present, it is better than some of the other AMT units out there. The gearshifts aren’t quick – this has been done to keep the jerk between shifts to a minimum.
The Aura has MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. It rides on 175/60 R15 tyres, all of which makes the ride quality quite absorbent. There is an underlying stiffness to the suspension, which is why sharp potholes and bumps are felt in the cabin. On the highways, the Aura feels quite stable. A point worth mentioning here is that since the diesel has a heavier front-end, it feels more planted than the petrol variant. Similarly, in the corners, the diesel’s steering has that added weight that makes it much nicer to drive. The steering still doesn’t feel connected, but the added weight does allow you to carry more speed into corners. In contrast, the turbo-petrol variant, which is the engine that will be preferred by most enthusiasts, has a lighter steering. The brakes work well in emergency situations and the pedal feel is also progressive, with a nice and strong bite point as soon as you start braking.
Should I buy one?
Designed and specified to stand out from the crowd and especially the Maruti Dzire, the Hyundai Aura comes with flashy styling, a powerful and fun turbo-petrol and even a BS6-compliant diesel. It is well equipped and comfortable on the inside. It is powered by capable set of engines that come with AMT automatics too. There’s something for the enthusiast too, as the turbo-petrol variant does have its highlights.
The Aura is even priced competitively against cars like the Dzire, with prices starting at Rs 5.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) with the diesel in BS6 form only costing Rs 20,000 more than the one on the Xcent. Yes the cabin isn’t as spacious as the competition, the turbo-petrol is a bit expensive at Rs 8.55 lakh and those looking for an automatic version of the turbo-petrol won't get one. Still, the Aura offers so much more in comparison to the competition in certain areas. It seems poised to take a much larger slice of the pie.
Rs 6.46 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)
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