Hyundai Santro | 21-Year-Old Hatchback

In this article, we are taking a look at the Hyundai Santro History, its legacy, and its impact on the Indian automotive market.

What makes you think a certain automobile has had a particularly good run? It’s when you see an automobile from the first generation, which was released 22 years ago, blasting down the highway. Indeed, the Hyundai Santro is one of the few automobiles in India that has had such a successful career. The Santro has been one such brand in the Indian automotive market, as a typical Indian automobile buyer has always searched for something that might last for decades and still be useful to them. The Hyundai Santro is the classic “tall guy” of India, and we’re taking a journey down memory lane with it.

It was the late 1990s, and India, like the rest of the globe, was preparing to embrace a new era in the form of the twenty-first century. However, being a late bloomer, the Indian auto industry at the time lacked a varied choice of vehicles to drive it into the new era. There were few traditional alternatives in the passenger automobile market, particularly in the popular compact hatchback sector.

In 1996, a South Korean automaker named Hyundai Motor Company opened up shop in Tamil Nadu, India, around this period. This was the start of the Santro’s evolution and the start of its lengthy voyage through the centuries. So let’s dive into Hyundai Santro history and its impact on the automotive market in India.

Hyundai Santro History | Legacy | Everything You Need to Know


First-generation Hyundai Santro (1998)

Hyundai Santro History
Hyundai Santro First Gen 1998

In comparison to what was available in the category preceding Santro, the Santro had an unusual appearance. The small and low-rise design was seen in cars like the Maruti Zen and Maruti 800. The Santro was a breath of new air with its distinctive outward proportions, high roofline, and more substantial posture, garnering it the nickname “tall boy” and setting a pattern for automobile designs in India in coming years.

The Santro was equipped with a strong 999cc engine capable of 56PS and modern technology such as MPFi (Multi-point fuel injection). As a result, Santro outperformed its Indian competitors significantly.

The Santro ZipDrive arrived soon after, giving the new Hyundai a mid-life facelift. This revised version had a 1.1-liter engine that produced 63PS and 98 Nm of torque. It came standard with a 5-speed manual transmission, with a 4-speed automatic transmission option. It received segment-first features such as power steering, as well as outward aesthetic upgrades such as a new front grille and a rear spoiler.

The Santro was able to create a hole in the sales of the segment’s reigning leaders during its first two years on the market, selling close to 60,000 units in each of those years.

The Santro Xing (2003)

Hyundai Santro History

The Santro was a tremendous success in the Indian market, with impressive sales statistics and growing popularity, particularly among Indian middle-class automobile purchasers. We all remember Santro and Hyundai’s affiliation with Mr. Shahrukh Khan, the King Khan of Bollywood. This relationship has been maintained and evolved to this day, and it has played a vital part in making Santro such a well-known name not just in the country but also throughout the world. However, it was now time to add “Xing” to the car’s success in the country, thus the Santro Xing was introduced in 2003.

The Santro Xing was indeed the Santro’s first major upgrade since its introduction in 1998.

Santro Xing arrived with a slew of new features. To begin with, it had a much larger and boxier stance. The Santro Xing was a much-needed upgrade for the brand to keep ahead of the competition at the time, with a fully new front and back design. The powertrains remained the same, but new amenities like front and rear electric windows and interior enhancements were added.

In 2010 Hyundai introduced the company fitted CNG kit to get more customers. When Santro Xing was launched in 2003 it starts at ₹ 2.63 Lakh and goes up to ₹ 4.21 Lakh. It was available with both manual and automatic transmission and with one petrol engine option.

The Hyundai Santro Discontinued (2015)

Hyundai Motors India has decided to discontinue the Santro after an almost 17-year existence. Hyundai had developed into a brand with a varied variety of vehicles over the years, and the Santro, after such a lengthy run with the firm, didn’t appear to fit into the portfolio any longer.

As a result, Hyundai Motors India chose to discontinue the Santro in order to create a place for newer models such as the Elite I20. This was the last nail in the coffin and Hyundai Santro history concludes here or does it?

2018 New Hyundai Santro | The comeback

Hyundai Santro History
2018 Hyundai Santro – Source

With the all-new Santro, the ‘Santro’ badge made a reappearance in 2018. Although this car lacks the stylistic DNA of the original Santro, it is powered by a rebuilt version of the same E-epsilon 1.1 Litre engine, which produces a healthier 69PS and 99Nm of torque.

To stay up with the competition, the new and current Santro comes with all the latest technologies, such as a 5-speed AMT gearbox, twin airbags, and a 7.0-inch touch screen infotainment audio system with Bluetooth connectivity.

While others argue that the new Santro is only a rebadged version of the old model, the slightly higher cost, which ranges from Rs.4.57 to 6.25 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi.

Entrance in India

The Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea established Hyundai Motor India Limited on May 6, 1996. In 1996, when Hyundai Motor Company joined the Indian vehicle industry, the Hyundai brand was almost unknown in the country. There were only five major automotive manufacturers in India at the time of Hyundai’s arrival in 1996: Maruti, Hindustan, Premier, Tata, and Mahindra. With the Cielo, Daewoo joined the Indian vehicle market three years ago, whereas Ford, Opel, and Honda arrived less than a year ago.


Hyundai has become a reliable, trusted, and successful brand in India and they can all owe it to Santro. People loved this car and you can still see them on the roads even in 2022. Hyundai had sold over 9 million Santro in India in their 21 years. Hyundai Santro also forced other car manufacturers to bring quality products. So here you have it guys, Hyundai Santro history. Did we miss anything? let us know in the comment section below.

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