Drive – Hyundai i20 Elite Review

28 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Hyundai i20 Elite Review
Hyundai i20

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Well equipped; strong safety package; comes with five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.


Suspension bumpy and crashes over rough surfaces; engine noisy when accelerating; vague steering; average road manners; gear shifts not smooth.

The Chinese are coming! And Hyundai, the brand that became synonymous with cheap-and-cheerful cars in the ’90s, wants nothing of the knock ’em down, drag ’em out sales war that appears inevitable when the next wave of budget cars arrives.

Small cars remain its bread and butter but Hyundai wants to compete in a more dignified contest with Japanese brands, where car makers occasionally make a dollar or two.

Enter the i20, the follow-up act to Hyundai’s well-received i30 small car. The smaller, Indian-built i20 in some ways replaces the long-serving and still popular Getz (although a more affordable i10 could step in below it), but the get-in price for buyers will be $1000 more. That may not sound much but at this end of the market – where razor-sharp driveaway prices are the norm – it’s plenty.

And the price difference widens as you move up through the range, with the i20 Elite costing $2000 more than the outgoing Getz SX model.


Hyundai Getz holding back i20, says Hyundai.

91kW at 6300rpm

Price and equipment

The i20 range starts at $14,990 with the three-door model. An extra $1000 gets you five doors but the same 1.4-litre engine as the three-door. The first batch sold here came with only two airbags, although Hyundai has said previously it will fit six airbags to all i20s from now.

Stability control, which can help control a skid, is standard across the range.

The Elite model tested here costs another $2500 and gets a more powerful 1.6-litre engine and standard side and curtain airbags.

The extra money also buys you alloy wheels, front fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote audio controls, two more speakers, a trip computer and a luggage net in the rear load area.

The i20’s audio system has an input jack and a USB port and, if you pay another $75, you get a special plug that allows you to scroll through your iPod’s menu on the centre screen and change songs through the steering wheel-mounted buttons. If you don’t buy the plug, you get gobbledegook readouts and can’t scroll through your iPod.

Parking sensors are available as a dealer accessory. A notable omission is cruise control – it’s not on every city runabout car but it is on some key competitors.

Under the bonnet

Hyundai i20

On paper, the i20’s engine stacks up well against the opposition, with one of the highest power outputs in the segment. Unfortunately, it is let down by being noisy and harsh at higher revs. As the engine speed builds, so does the noise, while you can feel the vibration of the motor through the wheel and pedals.

It makes reasonably swift progress for a 1.6-litre engine but it feels as if it is being thrashed to achieve the result. While the Mazda2’s engine doesn’t have the i20’s oomph, it feels more refined; it likes to rev, while the i20’s engine feels like a draughthorse that’s been asked to gallop.

The four-speed transmission does it no favours. Gear changes can be clunky and the engine tends to surge as the car moves into a higher gear. Fuel consumption is listed as a frugal 6.5 litres per 100km.

Our test, on a mix of 110km/h freeway and pottering around town, suggested those figures aren’t beyond the realms of possibility.

How it drives

The lack of engine refinement is mirrored by the i20’s suspension and steering set-up. The car feels solid on the freeway, soaking up bumps competently without becoming too floaty, but at lower speeds it crashes noisily over road joins and corrugations.

The car doesn’t feel at home tackling corners on secondary country roads. It skips about on rougher surfaces and feels unsettled when asked to change direction in a hurry. The steering doesn’t help build confidence, feeling too light and artificial at speed.

Comfort and practicality

The i20 cabin has a more modern and brighter feel than the rather plain Getz layout. The painted silver centre console looks smart, while the silver highlights around the airconditioning vents and the digital trip computer read-out in the centre of the dash lift the general ambience further. On closer inspection, though, some of the buttons and knobs feel a little cheap and flimsy.

The seat fabrics are more fashionable than previous Hyundais and the seats are reasonably comfortable and supportive, although bigger people might feel as if they are perched too high. A reach- and height-adjustable steering wheel makes it easier to find the right seating position.

As you’d expect in a city runabout, rear seat legroom isn’t overly generous but the tallish roof means headroom is good for this class. The load area is also more generous than most, with a luggage net, bag hook and full-size alloy under the floor adding to the convenience. The practical and relatively roomy cabin is let down by large expanses of black, shiny plastic on the dash, the door inserts and the centre console.

Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20
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