An Xcent for the Accent; should Dzire and Amaze worry?

At long last, Hyundai with the Xcent has a participant in the compact sedan category that has been for quite sometime the fastest growing segment in India. The importance of the category has been so evident that it comes as a surprise that a manufacturer as shrewd as Hyundai took so much time to get a product ready for it.

The Korean car maker can be forgiven for taking it lightly when Tata Motors rolled out the Indigo compact sedan way back in 2007. Increasingly, very few companies take Tata seriously these days–a fact well corroborated by the lack of interest in the Nano segment. But one would have thought

Hyundai would have taken note of how its main rival Maruti swiftly plonked a boot to the Swift to give birth to the Dzire.

Making a sedan from a small car isnt as simple as some of us think. But it is no rocket science either. Hyundai’s reluctance to do it with the old i10 all this while, cost it a good 5 years. Its indecisiveness in using the same 1.1 litre diesel engine that comes with the Grand i10 and Xcent today, cost it some more.

For long it continued to prolong the Accent with the hope that consumers would prefer the strength of a true blue sedan over one that is just an oversized hatch. But Accent was long in its tooth by the time Dzire came to the scene and never really held a chance against the Suzuki.

Now that the Xcent is finally amongst us, how good is it against the likes of Maruti Dzire or Honda Amaze? A few areas where it scores is immediately visible. Like all modern Hyundai cars, the Xcent scores high on features.

And many are carried straight from the grand i10.

So the sedan gets rear AC vents and 1 GB internal memory in the music system, rear parking camera with sensors and automatic folding mirrorsas features that are not available in competing models. And the features are part of a list that is exhaustive in any case. From dual airbags to steering mounted audio controls, ABS and cooled glovebox, there is nothing that Hyundai has left to chance.

Another big talking point is its price. In 2008, Maruti set the benchmark in the segment with the Dzire. A number of carmaker tried to ape that price positioning, none more impressively than the Honda Amaze, and reaped dividends in varying denominations. Hyundai has gone a step ahead by pricing the Xcent even below that. At Rs 4.66 lakh, it is 19,000 cheaper than the base Dzire variant. And the difference is carried forward to each of Xcent’s variants–petrol, diesel and automatic alike.

This is perhaps for the first time that Hyundai has decided to go one up on Maruti on value for money in a particular segment.

Now, the de-merits. Nobody has driven the Xcent so far so we do not know how well it drives and handles. But that is one area where Hyundai is not strong and given the status quo on that with the Grand i10, it should not be any different with the Xcent.

A major flaw if one can say that, could be its piddly 1.1 litre diesel engine that compares unfavourably with Amaze’s 1.5 litre and Dzire’s 1.3 litre engines. Since the Xcent shares its platform with the Grand i10, tweaking it to facilitate a bigger 1.4 litre engine from the i20 may not be very easy but would have made the vehicle a more rounded package.

The Grand i10 has been well appreciated in the Indian market but with sales of just 60% that of a Swift, it is not by any stint of imagination a roaring success. Xcent’s performance would depend on whether the Indian consumer is ready to forgo performance at the altar of affordability.

Honda Amaze Maruti Swift Dzire Hyundai Xcent
Length mm 3990 3995 3995
Width mm 1680 1695 1660
Height mm 1505 1555 1520
Ground clearance mm 165 170
Wheelbase mm 2405 2430 2425
Kerb weight kg 950-965 1060-1075 960-990 1050-1080
Boot space litres 400 316
Engine Petrol Diesel Petrol Diesel petrol diesel
Capacity cc 1198 1498 1197 1248 1197 1120
Max power PS@rpm 88@6000 100@3600 87@6000 75@4000 83@6000 72@4000
Max torque NM@rpm 109@4500 200@1750 114@4000 190@2000 116@4000 184@1750-2500
Fuel economy kpl 18 25.8 19.1 23.4 19.1 24.2
Price Rs lakh (ex showroom Delhi) 4.99-6.64 5.97-7.49 4.85-6.31 5.78-7.32 4.66-6.47 5.56-7.38
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 3.71 out of 5)
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