Hyundai i20

19 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20

What we liked

Smart euro-styling

Revised engines, especially 1.6

Standard equipment levels

Not so much

Four-speed auto

Some trim issues

Dynamics well behind class best

Overall rating: 2.5/5.0

Safety: 3.5/5.0

Behind the wheel: 2.5/5.0

X-factor: 3.0/5.0

About our ratings


— Upmarket Light.

If you’re pigeon-holing Hyundai’s new i20 light car as simply a replacement for the marque’s top-selling Getz, then please reconsider. That’s the message from the burgeoning Korean manufacturer who for the time being — at least until the end of the first quarter of 2011 — says it will sell the cars alongside each other in showrooms across its Australian dealer network.

You see, the i20, like the i30, ix35 and i45 models before it, is seeking to move Hyundai upmarket. Forsaking price leadership for more of a value-based buying decision, the i20’s natural competitors, Hyundai asserts, are the new generation of Euro-designed (if not built) light cars such as Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2 and Volkswagen’s Polo.

That’s not to say the new car is not competitively priced. It is. though in a different bracket from the past. More to the point Hyundai has specified the i20 with a high level of standard equipment for the segment and, it says, increased the quality of its overall offer.

And it’s not just in terms of price versus value where Hyundai seeks to differentiate the i20 from the Getz. Aimed squarely at the under-34 market, i20’s target demographic is in stark contrast to the Getz’s over-50 average. Tech-savvy features join the abovementioned higher level of standard equipment to help attract a younger crowd.


— Standard fare is above average

Priced from $14,990 before government and delivery charges are added, the i20 is no longer the price leader in the segment. The new compact car instead offers premium features such as iPod connectivity, antilock brakes and stability control.

Additionally, from September onward, the i20 will be fitted as standard with six airbags on all models across the range, giving it a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Initially, however, the base ‘Active’ model will arrive without side or curtain airbags. Hyundai is quiet on whether additional airbags will inflate the base model’s sub $15K starting price post-September.

i20 is available in three trim levels: Active, Elite, Premium.

The entry-level Active scores a 1.4-litre-engine and rolls on 15-inch steel wheels. It is available in both three ($14,990) and five-door ($15,990) guise and both five-speed manual and (optional) four-speed auto versions.

Auto costs an extra $2000 on all i20 variants.

Standard features in the base model are far from Spartan with the aforementioned safety kit included in the base model’s sticker price. Keyless entry with alarm is standard, as is full iPod connectivity via USB. Aircon, one-touch electric windows and auto folding mirrors are also included.

Cloth trim is standard and it’s better than average in terms of its look and feel. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height, et al and the steering wheel is reach- and tilt-adjustable.

Stepping up in the range, it’s five-door only for the Elite and Premium models.

Both are powered by a 1.6-litre engine with the $18,490 Elite manual (auto $20,490) gaining 15-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer and front fog lamps.

The luggage area gets a net and curry hooks. There’s also steering wheel-mounted audio controls standard on the Elite’s leather-wrapped tiller but cruise control is not available on any variant in the i20 lineup.

The top-shelf $21,490 Premium (manual, $23490 auto) variant adds 16-inch alloys, part-leather upholstery and trim (with snappy red piping) and single-zone climate control aircon.

At this level it’s a pretty impressively finished and equipped package.


— True to class

The i20 model mix offers both three and five-door variants with a choice of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engines. The engine capacity is linked to equipment grades as noted above.

Both engines are developments of Hyundai’s Gamma range of DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engines used in the i30. They are vastly improved over the rather weedy units used in the current Getz.

The Active base model’s fuel-injected and variable valve timing equipped 1.4-litre unit delivers an output of 73kW/136Nm. It’s a sweet spinning and surprisingly torquey unit.

Hyundai claims a combined fuel economy figure of 6.0L/100km for the five-speed manual 1.4. The four-speed auto is less frugal at 6.4L/100km.

If there’s one area that lets the i20 down a touch it’s this four-speed auto. In the case of the 1.4 especially, it’s a hard slog from third to fourth gear and there’s plenty of ‘hunting’ from the autobox when driving on the freeway or in the hills. A five or six-speed auto would not only yield manual-matching fuel economy, it’d be a more relaxed and nicer drive to boot.

The Elite and premium grades’ 1.6-litre engine will be familiar to i30 drivers. Developing 91kW/156Nm it’s just 0.1L/100km thirstier in both manual and auto forms than the tiddler. It’s also a better drive — especially when matched with the auto.

There’s little wrong with the i20’s five-speed manual box, however. This is a positive yet light shifting gearbox that is pleasing to use. The ratios are well matched to both powerplants.

In each variant the manual’s the pick of the bunch.

The rest of the i20 is thoroughly conventional USC — universal small car. This reads: MacPherson strut front end, increasingly common (and efficient) electric power steering, torsion beam rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes (though to be fair some in the class still have rear drums — Fiesta and Mazda2).

Although designed and developed in Europe, Hyundai Australia says the i20 has been optimised for Australian conditions. Chassis and steering map changes have been made to suit local roads, Hyundai says, though to be frank there’s more work to be done (see ON THE ROAD).


— Quality gains over Getz

The i20’s cabin is evidence how far Hyundai has come. It’s a good space in which to spend time and there’s no obvious signs of penny pinching from the driver’s seat.

The instrument panel and centre-stack are well executed and in the top grades especially, there’s a ‘softer’ feel to the cabin than is the norm for the class.

Materials appear of a high quality. No, not Volkswagen level, but far from shabby and better than say Yaris in look and feel.

The same goes for the shape and design of the seats. There’s a decent heft to the feel of the front seats and rear passengers get a decent shaped bench and plenty of space as well as better than class average kneeroom.

Entry to the rear of the three door is no better or worse than the rest of the crop. Once there though headroom’s good thanks to a slightly more upright stance than some other Light cars.

That’s not to say the i20 is afflicted with the mini-MPV look that this writer believes hamstrings sales of Honda’s Jazz and Mitsubishi’s excellent Colt. Indeed, the i20’s true hatch styling is one of the highpoints of the car. It’s handsome and somehow is a touch more masculine than most Light cars.

Hyundai i20

It’s only when you start to dig a bit deeper that you start to find where Hyundai’s saved the cents. In the luggage area for example there are cheaper fixed luggage hooks rather than the nice, hinged, pop-out examples you’d find on a Polo for example.

The splitfold rear seat is a little light on trimming when viewed from the luggage area and unlike the ‘clever’ seats in the Jazz (for example) does not fold fully flat.

One launch test car also had a couple of minor trim fit issues. The shroud below the steering wheel had come adrift. It was quickly fixed but it was loose nonetheless.


— All the boxes ticked – eventually

If you’re in the market for a base model Active our advice would be to wait. Until September. At that point the base grade i20 will come standard with the full safety kit that is now offered only in the Elite and Premium.

From September 2010 onward, the i20 will be fitted as standard with six airbags (front, passenger, side and curtain) on all models across the range — including Active. In conjunction with better than average crash performance, the extra bags will give the car a full five-star ANCAP safety rating. In this respect it will match the best in class.

All i20s now get stability control and antilock brakes, but initial shipments of Actives — perhaps as many as 800-1000 cars — arrive without side or curtain airbags. And there’s no safety pack upgrade available in the interim.


— Out of the frying pan.

Getz is responsible for a huge proportion of Hyundai’s local volume. As much as Hyundai says it is aiming the i20 at a different customer group, it is still vitally important that buyers warm to this car.

And it’s parachuting into a fiercely contested market. Small cars still are the largest proportion of the Aussie marketplace, but Light cars are forging ahead with more than 20 models on sale from almost as many manufacturers.

Aimed at a younger, higher spending customer than Getz, i20 is targeting Fiesta, Mazda2, Jazz and perhaps even Polo, Hyundai insiders say. Yet the company’s launch documentation compares the car only to Barina and Yaris. Mixed messages?

We reckon the car is good enough to stand scrutiny against the class’s heavy hitters, but Hyundai’s biggest challenge is to get the car (and brand) on these shopping lists. Cheap and cheerful won’t cut it forever.


— Slipped betwixt cup and lip

The i20 is a polished package that looks good inside and out. It’s quiet — remarkably so compared to some cars in the class — and its easy to drive. Fuss free — which is a core attribute in this class.

In town it’s a very capable little package. Steering is better weighted than some, but bordering on too light for this writer’s taste. We’d like a touch more feel — especially on-centre.

Ride too is good — especially in the Active on its 15-inch wheels.

As noted above, we reckon the 1.4 will struggle if you load up your five-door i20 with the girls or lads and head to the beach. Two-up with light lithe lovelies, it’ll be fine.

The new Gamma engines are possessed of decent torque so the engine punches above its weight. It is, however, no match for the prodigious torque of the Polo’s 1.2-litre turbo engine. In their next generation of powerplants the Korean and Japanese carmakers need to get with the turbo program.

We’d pay the extra for the Elite and go for the 1.6 — especially if opting for the auto box.

As good as the i20 is — and it’s clearly better than class average, and in this writer’s estimation, ahead of Barina, Yaris, Tiida and Colt — it isn’t a match for the best of the Light cars.

In the case of Jazz, the Fiesta/Mazda2 twins and Polo there’s an underlying level of refinement and cohesiveness that is evident even in extremis. You don’t have to push the i20 very hard at all for it to start to become just a little unravelled.

Relatively neutral handling traits start to default to understeer at anything over seven-tenths and body control that’s good around town speeds gets sloppy on even a modest tourist drive. The rest of the car and the sweet-shifting manual gearbox and Gamma engines deserve better.

Just how many buyers this lack of dynamic polish will put off is a moot point. To this tester, ‘near enough is good enough’ is a worrying trend that repeats the not quite right conclusion we arrived at after driving the stylish and well-finished i45. When Hyundai has moved so many aspects of its products to the next level, this is disappointing.

Watch Carsales TV’s video review of the new Hyundai i20

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Published. Thursday, 29 July 2010

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