- Lovely to drive
- Interior materials
- Engine options are limiting
Hyundai is back with a brand new version of its small family car, the i20. We jetted out to Malaga, Spain to put it through its paces ahead of its UK launch.
The i20 promises to be more economical, more practical and better value than its precessor. But can it compete with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo?
Indeed, can it live up to the high benchmark set by the company’s entry-level city car, the i10? With an all-new platform, keen pricing and some eye-catching design, all the signs point to yes.
The Hyundai i20 is a small family car, but it has a fairly grown-up design. It has a tall, relatively boxy overall shape, but there are enough swooshes, creases and fancy detailing to lift it above the mundane. Take the headlights, which start on the car’s face but flow towards the sides as if they’ve been caught in the wind. Then there are the front wheel arches that are subtly integrated into the bonnet.
The most striking design element by far, however, is the gloss black C-pillar at the rear, which gives the impression the entire rear windscreen wraps around until it reaches the back windows . It also gives the impression the roof is floating almost unaided above the body, and helps the car stand out from the automotive masses.
Hyundai has lavished plenty of attention on the interior design, too. Most affordable cars gie you a choice of wither black or grey cloth and plastics, but the i10’s interior colours can complement the paintwork. On blue cars you can get get a blue interior, on the coffee-coloured car you get cappuccino coloured seats and so on.
The quality of the materials looks fine from a distance, until you start prodding about. Closer analysis reveals the plastics aren’t quite as premium as they appear at first glance, but nothing feels cheap and nasty.
The fairly boxy, exterior shape means the i20 is very spacious on the inside. This latest model is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, means more room to stretch out; the car can accommodate up to 4 adults in comfort – 5 at a push. It’s certainly bigger than the majority of its competition, so if you want a small car that feels grown up, you’ll do well to consider the i20.
The boot is massive, too, with a 326-litre capacity – bigger than the larger Ford Focus. Split folding rear seats allow you to maintain some rear seating while transporting bulky objects, or you can fold the entire thing flat to use the full 1,042-litres on offer.
A two-stage luggage floor can be moved up or down to conceal things you don’t want floating about in plain sight when you open the boot.
Elsewhere in the cabin, you get small-ish centre console cubby that doubles as an arm rest, a ceiling-mounted sunglasses holder, plenty of door bin space and a large glove box that’s air conditioned on everything but the entry-level car.
Performance & Handling
The Hyundai i20 is an easy car to drive. It may be small, but it has a slightly raised riving position that gives you a great view of the road ahead. Its A-pillars, where the windscreen meets the doors, are very upright and fairly thin, which aids visibility and inspires confidence.
It’s refined, too. Hyundai says the A-, B-, and C-pillars offer better sound-absorption, and it’s fitted new anti-noise pads between the engine and the passenger compartment, as well as in the floor to limit the amount of engine and road noise creeping into the cabin.
It’s particularly quiet in models without the sunroof – eerily so, even at motorway speeds. Cars with the optional panoramic sunroof are noticeably noisier, however, as the cabin is less well insulated.
The i20’s steering is precise and responsive, so it tackles corners keenly. Body roll is pretty minimal and the suspension soaks up imperfections well.
Our test car came with the 1.4-litre 100PS petrol, which Hyundai reckons will be the biggest seller. It’s not particularly powerful, but nor is it sluggish, completing 0-62mph in a just-about-acceptable 11.6 seconds. It feels smooth, too. Torque is somewhat limited in fifth and sixth gear, so you’ll find yourself downshifting on uphill stretches of motorway.
Economy & Environment
At the time of our test, the Hyundai i20 comes with a choice of engines – three petrols and two diesels. Our 1.4-litre petrol 100PS test car delivers a respectable 51.4mpg with distinctly less respectable CO2 emissions of 127g/km – a lot for a small family car.
There are smaller petrols. The 1.2-litre petrol engine comes in 75PS and 84PS guises. These are cheaper to buy, but the respective 58mpg and 55mpg on offer don’t warrant the big drop in performance, even if the lowliest engine manages a more eco-friendly CO2 figure of 112g/km.
The diesels fare better. The top of the range 1.4-litre CDRi nudges 69mpg with 106g/km of CO2, while the entry-level 1.1-litre diesel can manage 88.3mpg with just 84g/km – hybrid territory. You’ll need the patience of a saint to drive it though, as it’s painfully slow (0-62mph in 16 seconds, anyone?).
Equipment & Value
The Hyundai i20 comes in six grades; S, S Air, S Blue, SE, Premium and Premium SE. The entry-level S car (£10,695) comes with a decent spec which includes an alarm, body coloured door mirrors and handles, daytime running lights, electric front windows, electric heated door mirros with integrated indicators, a fully adjustable steering wheel, remote central locking, winted windows and a radio with USB and aux inputs.
If you want air conditioning, you’ll need to get the S Air, which costs £11,445. The I20 S Blue, meanwhile, gives you low rolling resistance tyres and engine stop and go for better fuel economy, though that car will set you back £12,445.
The pick of the bunch is the SE, which gets everything the S does, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth with voice activation, cruise control and speed limiter, front fog lights, a leather steering wheel and gear stick, a CD player and front and rear electric window.
If you have the cash, it’s worth going the whole hog for the Premium SE, which comes with LED lights, an auto defog windscreen, automatic lights and wipers, a slightly better stereo system, heated front seats and steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, a smartphone docking station and a panoramic sunroof.
The Hyundai i20 may be small, but it has a decent amount of safety tech, much of which you’d expect to find on a larger, more premium car. Six airbags are fitted on all models as standard and electronic stability program come as standard.
The i20 includes lane departure warning, which alerts you if you start drifting out of your lane. Normally we’d say that’s a good thing, but the system in this car is quite annoying, beeping obnoxiously if you so get anywhere near a lane marking. Most people will end up simply switching it off.
The Hyundai i20 holds its own well against all competition, and even bests its rivals in some areas. It has a modern, distinctive and fairly attractive design, inside and out, has an exceptionally spacious cabin with lots of luggage space, and is good value for money.
It lacks an engine that offers good performance and economy simultaneously, but there are enough engine choices on offer to prioritise either.
|Torque||134Nm @ 3,500rpm|
|Acceleration||0-62mph in 11.6 seconds|