Hyundai i20 review – Telegraph

7 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Hyundai i20 review – Telegraph
Hyundai i20

It’s up against some brilliant opposition, but first impressions of the new supermini are extremely good.

There are small cars you remember with affection: the Austin Metro (although I think that’s just me), the Fiat Panda, perhaps, or the Renault 5. It’s doubtful the Hyundai Getz will ride a wave of nostalgia, even though 500,000 have sold since its launch in 2002. Its replacement, the longer, lower, wider i20, however, is another matter: Hyundai expects to sell more i20s than Getzs and the small hatchback should be the Korean company’s best seller.

It slips in the Hyundai hatchback range between the ugly, dull i10 and family-friendly, really-quite-good i30, and is undoubtedly the best looking of the bunch. The exterior is the right blend of sleek, sporty and cutesy, with a neat snout, deep front valence and sporty inset front fog lights: Hyundai hasn’t ruled out a version with more power and the styling is right for an uprated model. The tail lights rise up the rear and curve over onto the flank, mirroring the wheelarch below, and the silhouette suggests fun.

Our 1.4 petrol test car was bright red and was luridly matched inside with red fabric panels on the seats and another dash of colour on the door arm rests. Strangely, there is a pull-down seat arm on the driver’s seat, which lends a relaxed air to the cabin more suited to an SUV more than a perky little hatch.

The steering wheel is also out of character because it’s far too big for a supermini, and covered in a nasty, cheap plastic that undermines Hyundai’s slogan true quality matters, although thankfully the overall fit and finish quality is high, as befits a car designed and developed in Germany. The i20 is one of the biggest hatches in the supermini sector and consequently there is plenty of leg and head room for front and rear adult occupants and an impressive amount of boot space with a cargo net.

We could only drive the 1.4-litre, 99bhp petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox; the 77bhp 1.2-litre petrol version should be the best-seller in the UK. The 1.4 is a satisfying unit; it is quiet at idle and responds enthusiastically to the slightly oversensitive throttle pedal, with a little growl at the top of its rev range, as if to say The spirit’s there, but unfortunately I’m knackered. Swap down ratios with the short-shifting five-speed manual gearbox, and the little workhorse gets a new lease of life every time; you can wring a substantial amount of fun, if not speed, out of it.

The chassis is as nimble as a featherweight boxer, ducking and diving on undulating, twisting roads but keeping the tyres planted on the ground. The ride isn’t unduly jiggly, unlike some of its short-wheelbase competitors; in fact the suspension set-up keeps things remarkably supple. Thankfully, unlike the wallowing Getz, the i20 suffers little from body roll.

Hyundai clearly has every faith in its platform because it is planning to build an MPV on it, with a concept ready for the Geneva motor show in March of this year. The steering feels well weighted and sharp, and is fully electronic for the first time.

So far so good, but Hyundai is up against stiff competition, noticeably the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, so has to rely on its two key strengths: low cost and a five-year warranty. The three-door model, which will be the second, cheaper version into production, starts at £8,195 for the Classic trim version, which includes air-conditioning, glove-box cooling, electric front windows, active head restraints and a fully adjustable steering wheel.

Don’t rush out to buy your five-door version this month however; wait until February and you’ll get ESP (electronic stability program) as standard. This is because EuroNCAP, the motor-industry safety-ratings provider, has revised its crash tests and for a car to score maximum points from February onwards it will have to be fitted with ESP.

Hyundai clearly thinks a five-star rating from NCAP is worth a new fleet of ESP-fitted cars a month after the i20 goes into production.

Will the i20 claim a long-lasting place in our affections? Possibly, and everyone except me already loves its baby sister, the i10. But it’ll never beat an Austin Metro, obviously.

Hyundai i20

Price/availability: Five-door on sale now, priced from £8,645. Three-door on sale in March, from £8,195.

Engines/transmission: 1,248cc four-cylinder petrol, 76bhp at 6,000rpm and 88lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm. 1,396 four-cyl petrol, 99bhp at 5,500rpm and 101lb ft at 4,200rpm. 1,396cc four-cyl turbodiesel, 74bhp at 4,000rpm and 162lb ft at 1,750rpm. 1,396cc four-cyl diesel, 89bhp at 4,000rpm and 162lb ft at 1,750rpm. 1,582cc turbodiesel, 127bhp at 4,000rpm.

Five-speed manual transmission with 1.2 petrol, 1.4 petrol and 1.4 89bhp diesel; four-speed auto option with 1.4 petrol and six-speed manual with 1.6 diesel.

Performance: 1.2 petrol: top speed 103mph, 0-62mph in 12.9sec, EU Urban fuel consumption 44.1mpg, CO2 emissions 124g/km. 1.4 petrol (auto in brackets): 112mph, (107), 11.6sec (12.9sec), 39.2mpg (35.3mpg), 133g/km (146g/km). 1.4 diesel (89bhp version in brackets): 100mph (106mph), 16.2sec (13.6), 51.4mpg (51.4), 116g/km (116).

1.6 diesel: 119mph, 10.4sec, 53.3mpg, 115g/km.

We like: Great improvement on the Getz. Looks. Price. Ride. 1.4 petrol engine. Five-year warranty

We don’t like: Slightly dull drive, lacking in spirit or sense of fun

Alternatives: Ford Fiesta, from £8,695. Mazda2, from £7,930. Peugeot 207, from £9,795. Toyota Yaris, from £9,085. Vauxhall Corsa, from £7,995.

Hyundai i20
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