We’ve just gone hands-on with the all-new Hyundai i20, a seemingly improved version of a car Hyundai hopes will tempt buyers away from rivals such as the Ford Fiesta. Can the South Korean carmaker’s latest offering really deliver the goods?
We headed out to Hyundai’s European head office to see, touch, and sit in one for ourselves ahead of the new i20’s official unveiling at the Paris Motor Show 2014 to find out.
New Hyundai i20: Design
There’s no debating it; the all-new Hyundai i20 is a looker, certainly more so than the previous model. The tweaks appear minor at first glance, but they all add up to what is an attractive overall package.
Highlights include a set of truly arresting day-running lights, which look like a pair of white eyebrows, located above the headlamps. The new split-level front grille is attractive, too, comprising a hexagonal lower section and an upper band that cradles the Hyundai badge.
Below those lies a third grille element that curves upwards at both edges, giving the i20 a hint of a cheeky smile.
The i20 is lower, longer and wide than before. Hyundai has moved the A-pillars back and made them more upright, which its designers say allows for a more rounded windscreen effect and a bonnet that appears longer when viewed from outside.
The C-pillar, meanwhile, is finished in black, rather than painted to match the body colour, giving the impression the tapered roof is floating in mid air.
New Hyundai i20: Interior
Hyundai hasn’t neglected the interior design of the new i20, which is blessed with a comfortable, well-arranged cockpit. It’s a little heavy on the plastic, but Hyundai has at least gone for the good stuff. It doesn’t look in the slightest bit cheap – on the contrary, in fact.
That said, the illusion begins to fade the closer you dig; the buttons feel a little toy-like, particularly those that control the panoramic glass roof and the wing mirrors. Here’s hoping Hyundai addresses that before launch.
The new Hyundai i20 has a great driving position, although you won’t be able to see the bonnet unless you raise the seat to its highest level. It’s a little disconcerting at first, not being able to see any bodywork out of the windscreen, and this might make it difficult to judge where the i20 ends and other objects begin, but front and rear parking sensors should help in this regard.
New Hyundai i20: Practicality
The new I20 is comfortable and spacious for a B-segment car. The front seats have plenty of adjustability, so it’s easy to get comfy and there’s enough room at the back for a pair of six-footers to ride in comfort. Our only gripe is that the rear seats are a little too upright. Those that like to recline may be a tad disappointed with the lack of adjustability.
There’s plenty of usable space in the i20. It has a pair of cup holders in the centre console, and the door bins, glovebox and centre cubby are all a good size and shape. The boot is ample, too, providing 326 litres of room with the rear seats in position, or 1,042 litres with them folded flat.
New Hyundai i20: Tech
The new Hyundai i20 has plenty of tech, certainly more than we would expect in a car in this segment. The aforementioned front and rear parking assist will come in handy, as will the heated steering wheel, static bending headlamps and automatic defog system. You even get a lane departure warning system, which is something you normally see in luxury cars.
The panoramic glass roof, which tilts and slides open, adds plenty of natural light and air into the cabin.
Other nice touches include a dash-mounted phone cradle, which can hold and charge both iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets, as well as backlit USB and aux ports, thoughtfully positioned within the driver’s reach – just in front of the gear stick.
New Hyundai i20: Engines
The new Hyundai i20 will come with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engine options. The top of the range petrol offering is a 1.4-litre unit that produces 100PS (98bhp) and a healthy 134Nm (98lb/ft) of torque, which is good for 0-62mph in 11.6 seconds.
There’s also a choice of two smaller, 1.25-litre units, delivering either 75PS (74bhp) or 84PS (82bhp), both with 122Nm (89lb/ft) of torque.
The diesels, meanwhile, come in either 1.1- or 1.4-litre guises, offering 75PS or 90PS power outputs. Hyundai is yet to confirm fuel economy figures for any of these engines, but the 1.1-litre diesel delivers roughly 80mpg in the i10. The i20 is a larger, heavier car, so it will almost certainly be less frugal.
New Hyundai i20: On the road
We haven’t had a chance to take the new i20 on the road as yet – that will happen soon, but if the i10 is anything to go by then we expect an enjoyable drive. It all bodes well on paper: the car has a 63 per cent stiffer body shell, longer wheelbase and wider track, so it should offer a very grown-up driving experience.
The latest i20 is equipped with fully-independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and semi-independent coupled torsion beam axle at the rear – nothing unusual there, but the car has been tested and tuned on European roads to deliver driving dynamics in line with European expectations.
Time will tell, of course, whether it lives up to Hyundai’s billing.
New Hyundai i20: Outlook
The new Hyundai i20 is a promising car. It’s good looking inside and out, features a wealth of tech – much of which you’d expect to find on larger, more expensive cars – and has a promising engine line-up.
We will reserve final judgement until closer to its release date when we finally get to drive the car, but it leaves a positive first impression. Watch this space.