Back in 2018, Hyundai announced the second coming of its popular Santro with great fanfare. Now, almost five years down the line, one of India’s favourite hatchbacks is on its way out (the first iteration was discontinued in 2015). With the trusted badge and family-friendly appeal, the second-generation Hyundai Santro was poised for success. So, what went wrong? Here are five reasons we attribute to its lack of popularity:
Say what you want about the older Hyundai Santro, but its design remains iconic to this day. When Hyundai first unveiled the second generation of the model, everyone was expecting it to better the previous design but they were disappointed. It’s not that the new Santro was a bad design, it just was not very different from the other affordable hatches on the market. Hyundai decided to tweak the new Santro with an array of modern elements but it didn’t quite capture the essence of the older model.
The primary role of a hatchback is to haul our extended middle-class family from point A to point B. The second-gen Santro came with tall-boy looks, but the car lacked that crucial space on the inside. In comparison, the Maruti Suzuki WagonR not only offered more space but also a higher fuel efficiency of around 22.5kpl, compared to the Santro’s 20.3kpl mark.
This was a huge disappointment for our budget-friendly market, which has a plethora of options in this segment, namely the Suzuki S-Presso, Maruti Celerio, Maruti WagonR, Hyundai i10 Nios, and Tata Tiago.
With Maruti Suzuki focusing on more bang-for-buck offerings for a similar or lower price, the Hyundai Santro already had tough competition waiting for it. Things only got worse after the Santro’s launch. Many complained about the basic set of features on offer. Adding to the misery was the fact that the cabin wasn’t the most comfortable place to be in either. With taller folks struggling with the non-adjustable steering wheel and the seat height, paired with not-so-great suspension, it was a bumpy ride, to say the least.
In all fairness, the Hyundai Santro is less expensive to maintain compared to the Maruti Suzuki WagonR. As per user reviews, the estimated maintenance cost of the Santro during a 5-year period is around Rs 12,000, while the Wagon R will run a cost of around Rs 16,000. However, the servicing network and the parts availability of Maruti Suzuki are what made it a preferred choice among Indian buyers.
During its re-launch in 2018, Hyundai priced the new Santro between Rs 3.9 lakh and Rs 5.5 lakh. However, with the recent safety and emission changes, the price was hiked by almost 20 to 30 percent, putting the hatchback in the Rs 5.7 lakh to Rs 7 lakh price band (all prices, ex-showroom). This wasn’t viable for buyers, who thought they’d be better off spending the money on Hyundai’s other hatchback, the Grand i10 Nios. This was reflected in Santro’s sales figure, averaging 23,700 units this year. In comparison, the WagonR emerged as the bestselling car in India with 188,838 units sold.
The Korean carmaker had no choice but to pull the plug on India’s once-beloved car. However, just like the 2018 model, we hope we’ll see the third iteration of the hatchback making its way to the Indian market soon.
(Image credits: Hyundai Motors)