Home / Reviews / First Drive / Hyundai Exter First Drive Review – Haymaker


With the Hyundai Exter, the Koreans have made hay while the sun shines and delivered their haymaker. Can their smallest “SUV” deliver the knockout blow? We head to Jaipur to see what it’s got.

Hyundai Exter static

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Coming up with new names that don’t make use of letters or numbers or combinations thereof is a job by itself. Coming up with a small car that fits in everywhere and stands out of the crowd is another challenge—actually a series of challenges—altogether.

The Hyundai Exter is a 3.8-metre-long compact crossover that pushes the SUV body style to those who don’t want an off-roader or a 4×4, or even a large rear-wheel-drive box that can do three-quarters of what the aforementioned four-wheelers do. Rather, it’s for those who follow trends and dance to whatever tune is playing at the time. On the flip-side of things, the real-world doesn’t have roads or streets of gold like we see in the movies. There are pot-holes, speed-humps and disturbingly dangerous transition sections during roadworks where no one would even dream of taking a Hyundai Tiburon or even a Verna. The crossover, with its high ground clearance, short overhangs, and driving dynamics more like a big hatchback, simply makes sense. And that’s why they’re mushrooming all over the world. With the SUV body-style dominating the scene everywhere, it’s not a surprise to see more established players taking a swing.

Hyundai Exter shot

The Hyundai Exter is quite a unique offering. We’ve known it as the Casper for some time now, and the sub-compact model, thanks to the many teasers, seems to have made quite the impact on the minds of several first-time car buyers. Externally, it has a unique, block-like front which Hyundai’s parametric theme is responsible for. The proportions are very Grand i10 with the Exter sharing the same platform, hence the 3,815-millimetre length and 2,450-mm wheelbase and 15-inch wheels with slightly higher profile 175/65 R15 rubber. It is 30 mm wider too, and, with roof-rails, a full 111 mm taller as well. For a small car it does have a distinct presence. It has some pronounced lines down the side, once I get my eyes away from the shape of the headlamp clusters and on to the rest of it.

Hyundai Exter review

The muscular creases give it a butch look and the contrasting black roof and roof-rails add to the rugged persona it wants to portray, while also accenting its sporty side. I do prefer the rear-three-quarter angle with the black band and parametric block-pattern continuing the pattern, as it looks more like a traditional block-shaped SUV with the design making it seem longer than it is. Both the upper front light clusters and the tail-lights have a clear “H” signature, which is a different sort of touch from the underscoring or piercing effect most other manufacturers are going with.

Hyundai Exter light

Open the door and the interior and the cabin quality are typical of modern Hyundai cars. Whatever space is available has been made good use of. There’s a loads of storage spaces as well as bottle holders in all four doors. The seats are comfortable and all controls fall into place easily; pointing to a lot of thought going into the design and ergonomics of the interior. The space at the rear, too, is quite generous. After I set up my low and far back driving position, I stepped out and into the rear seat. Enough space for a six-footer and more. That’s because, apart from the headroom and generous shoulder room, the rear of the front seat-backs have been scooped out to make for more knee-room. There are also adjustable rear head-restraints as well as rear air-vents in the centre; much-appreciated in the 36° Jaipur heat and humidity after just a couple of days of rain. Finally, behind the rear seats is a just as generous 391-litre boot; more than adequate for a weekend getaway.

Hyundai Exter interior

Back at the front, the black plastic feels good enough. The switches do not feel cheap, and the wiper and indicator stalks are positioned in the more conventional 10:10 position and are easy to reach. The seats in this SX(O) Connect top-spec model feel well spread and offer more than adequate support. The mix of fabric and leatherette upholstery makes for a something that seems like it will last the ages. The gradient finish also looks very cool. It may be a small car but it does have a load of features, although I’d have liked adjustable head-restraints at the front as well.

The centre screen is a connected 8.0-inch HD infotainment unit that is complemented by a 4.2-inch colour TFT digital information cluster for me, the driver. The wheel feels premium-ish too and houses buttons for music, cruise control, information display, and voice control. Oh, and the onboard computer understands 12 languages and more than 40 voice commands. There’s also a wireless charger, a dash-cam with dual cameras and even foot-well lighting. Another big plus is the automatic climate control. It worked well in the dusty and humid glorified village we were driving through. Then, there are the safety features. The Hyundai Exter is equipped as standard with six airbags, plus electronic stability control (ESC) and vehicle stability management (VSM). It also gets hill-start assist and a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines in this spec. There’s also a sunroof and a tyre pressure monitor. Right, then, time to hit the road.

Hyundai Exter sunroof

More on page 2 >


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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