The arrival of the Hyundai Exter has intensified the competition in India’s micro-SUV segment. This segment was initially created by the Mahindra KUV100, which, though not as strong as other Mahindra SUVs, faced fresh competition with the Tata Punch’s arrival in 2021. The Tata Punch quickly became the segment leader. In 2022, Citroen entered the space with its most affordable offering for the Indian car market, the C3. Now, with the Exter, Hyundai aims to replicate the sales success of its Venue and Creta models in the micro-SUV segment.
Hyundai Exter vs Tata Punch vs Citroen C3: Drive
Tata offers only one engine option with the Punch, which is a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine capable of generating a maximum power of 86 PS and a peak torque of 113 Nm. The Punch comes with a choice of a 5-speed manual transmission or an AMT.
If you truly wish to experience all the 86 PS power, the manual transmission is the one to go for. The five-speed transmission features a short first gear, allowing you to comfortably drive in second or third gear during office hour traffic. However, the clutch travel is long, and the gear shift throws are also on the longer side.
Unfortunately, the 3-cylinder engine lacks smoothness, as evident by the audible clatter and noticeable vibrations even at standstill. The Punch feels underpowered because of its high kerb weight.
Similar to the C5 Aircross, the C3 can easily be considered the most comfortable car in its segment. Citroen has incorporated progressive hydraulic cushions technology in the suspension, enhancing the ride quality.
Under the hood, the C3 is equipped with a 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine, producing a maximum power of 82 PS and peak torque of 115 Nm. This engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Surprisingly, the three-cylinder engine operates smoothly, even at idling, without any noticeable vibrations typical of such engines. However, this feeling changes when you rev the engine at higher RPMs, revealing its three-cylinder nature. The power delivery is consistently linear, and the five-speed transmission features tall gear ratios.
For those seeking more power, there’s also a more potent 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine available. Thanks to the car’s lightweight and a maximum power of 110 PS with peak torque of 190 Nm, the hatchback can achieve impressive speeds in short distances. While the C3 may not feel like a true performance-oriented car, it certainly boasts quick acceleration. The turbo engine comes paired with a 6-speed transmission, and it’s worth noting that no automatic option is available for this model.
The Exter boasts a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which contributes to its impressive refinement. Notably, the car remains free of vibrations even at idling and maintains its composure while accelerating.
The naturally-aspirated petrol engine delivers a maximum power of 83 PS and a peak torque of 114 Nm, providing sufficient power for smooth overtaking maneuvers. During our testing, we conducted a zero to 100 km/h run with the AMT, achieving a time of approximately 14 seconds. Hyundai claims that the manual transmission can achieve the same in 12.6 seconds.
In terms of mid-range performance, the engine proves to be robust, making overtaking in drive mode effortless. There’s an ample power reserve, readily available to facilitate overtaking whenever necessary. Additionally, during a cruising test at 100 km/h, the engine displayed a stress-free and composed performance.
Hyundai Exter vs Tata Punch vs Citroen C3: Tech
In terms of styling, the Hyundai Exter stands out as the boldest and sportiest among the three micro-SUVs – Exter, Tata Punch, and Citroen C3. All three vehicles feature front LED DRLs, LED inserts in the tail lamps, body cladding, and faux skid plates. However, the C3 misses out on projector fog lamps and machined alloy wheels.
In the cabin, the Citroen C3 feels the most basic among the three. It offers only steering-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls, along with a touchscreen infotainment system featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as the only modern features in its cabin.
In contrast, both the Hyundai Exter and Tata Punch come equipped with a colored digital instrument console, push start-stop button, automatic climate control, and driver seat height adjustment. The Exter goes further by offering additional features like a sunroof, wireless charger, rear AC vent, cruise control, and an inbuilt dashcam.
The Exter edges ahead with additional features like a sunroof, wireless charger, rear AC vent and cruise control. The Exter is also the only vehicle here to come with side and curtain airbags and a dashcam, with it also getting hill start assist and reverse camera.
Hyundai Exter vs Tata Punch vs Citroen C3: Engine and Transmission
All three cars are powered by 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engines paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. However, the Exter stands out as the only one with a four-cylinder layout for its engine. In terms of performance numbers on paper, the Tata Punch claims the highest power – 86 PS and 114 Nm. The Exter claims 83 PS and 113.8 Nm, while the C3 claims 80 PS of power and 115 Nm of torque.
The C3 is the only one without the option of a 5-speed AMT, but it compensates by offering a turbocharged petrol engine option. This 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivers 110 PS of power and 190 Nm of torque, paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox.