• 2023 Hyundai Aura: First Drive Review

Do the subtle, yet important updates improve the Aura’s standing as a compact sedan?

It isn’t uncommon for hatchbacks to get a sedan counterpart especially in India. Prime examples are the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the similar Dzire, as well as the Tata Tiago and the Tigor. The Hyundai Aura is another such example, taking after the Grand i10 Nios and chugging along nicely since January 2020 as a compact sedan that appeals to everyone. Recently, the Grand i10 Nios got a midlife refresh so it was only a matter of time before the Aura received it too. On paper the updates may seem subtle, they’re important. Let’s take a deeper dive into what’s new and are the updates enough to keep its strong standing in the compact sedan segment.

Many would suggest the Aura is a Grand i10 Nios with a boot, and previous iterations even looked virtually identical too. Fortunately, with the facelift, Hyundai has given the Aura a distinct identity over the Grand i10 Nios. For starters, the face now comprises a two-part grille setup, with the lower half aggressively styled and taking up a lot of frontal real estate. Flanking it are LED DRLs that now sport a new inverted L-shaped design that looks like fangs. Add on the vertical air vents alongside the DRLs and you’ve got a sportier face. 

From the sides, the sedan remains unchanged, retaining the 15-inch alloy wheels. At the rear, the spoiler continues to add a sporty quotient, while the 402-litre boot offers the ideal setup for a family weekend getaway. Visually, the updates have been relatively mild, though we would have liked a revised tail lamp. The current connected tail lamp design has divided opinions since it first showed up in 2020. True to its name, the new Starry Night shade looks black, when viewed from afar though in some angles you can see small hints of blue.

Like the Grand i10 Nios, the Aura’s cabin scores brownie points for its fit and finish and the overall ambience. It stands apart from its hatchback counterpart with a chocolate brown/bronze finish on the dashboard and the gear lever surround which added a nice bit of contrast to the already bright ambience. It's like having a dash of chocolate syrup poured onto vanilla ice cream. 

Flavours aside, the sedan also gains a new kit with interior footwell lighting, a USB Type-C charging port, cruise control and an updated 3.5-inch driver instrument cluster also seen on the facelifted Grand i10 Nios. The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless phone charger, and keyless entry with keyless ignition are carried over.

The important changes are in the safety department with four airbags now being standard and additional curtain airbags as an optional add-on. Other additions include ISOFIX child seat anchors, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), hill hold control, stability control (ESC) and vehicle stability management (VSM).

Like the Grand i10 Nios, the Aura misses out on the 100PS 1.0-litre turbo-petrol but continues with the naturally aspirated 83PS 1.2-litre Kappa petrol engine. Does the additional weight of the 402-litre boot affect the driving experience when compared to the Grand i10 Nios? There isn't a perceptible difference in performance. The linear and gentle power delivery, combined with the slick five-speed manual gearbox (it gets a five-speed automatic gearbox as well) makes city driving a breeze. Also, this engine is future proofed as it has been updated to RDE emission norms and can run on E20 fuel.

The Aura is set up for city driving as the suspension glides over speed breakers and the odd pothole. This does take a toll on handling though. You can push it a bit around corners though I had to back off the throttle around tight bends owing to the vague steering feel and the car's tendency to understeer. 

With prices ranging from Rs 6.30 lakh to Rs 8.87 lakh ex-showroom, Hyundai has managed to provide a decent amount of upgrades to the Aura while keeping the price hike relatively modest (up to Rs 32,000 depending on the variant). Despite the loss of the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol setup, the Aura continues to provide the appeal of being a well-rounded  compact family sedan. The new updates should enhance its stature against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the Tata Tigor and the Honda Amaze and make it even more appealing to the common man.

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