$15,590 – $19,590
Good: Spacious and comfortable interior; Frugal engines; Good handling and ride balance; 6 airbags across all grades; Another step forward for Hyundai.
Not so Good: Slightly plain-Jane styling (compared to the brands more ‘wow’ shaped i45 and ix35 models); Engine’s get a little noisy at high revs; Does nothing amazingly well (but does nothing majorly wrong either).
Design and Engineering
Good : Arriving in Australia in July 2010, Hyundai’s i20 is a stylish, yet slightly conservative Supermini that is longer and wider than the brands soon to be gone Getz predecessor.
Design details are more prominent this time around; we’re fans of the rakish side profile and the flowing character line that run the length of the doors and the stylish front fog light housing on either side of the sporty front air dam.
Designed in Europe (by a former BMW designer), built in India and available in both three and five door hatch bodystyles, the underneath of the i20 is typical contemporary Supermini. Build quality is also on the money.
Not so good : Compared to the competing Ford Fiesta and also the Mazda 2, the i20’s overall shape and stance is more plain-Jane, lacking the visual ‘wow’ of funkier rivals. As a result the Hyundai doesn’t stand out as much on the road (however this is not necessarily a negative point).
Whilst the Hyundai ix35 and i45 feature the brands super modern ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ styling (which we’re big fans of), unfortunately the i20 preceded this design movement. Close up and definitely when compared to the less premium Getz, the i20 must still be viewed as a design step forward though.
Interior and Styling
Good : The interior is well designed, has stylish elements (we particularly like the elegantly sloping line running across the top of the dash) and the driver’s and the centre console controls are functional and clearly laid out.
The driving position is good – thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out) and a driver’s seat with height adjustment; the glovebox is spacious, illuminated and also cooled (as it’s linked to the air-conditioning system) and all i20’s thankfully come standard with an iPod connector.
For a Supermini player, the Hyundai i20 is spacious inside with enough room for four six-foot adults to sit in relative comfort (as with all Supermini’s the rear centre seat is best kept for children and teens). Headroom all round is impressive, as is knee and foot space.
The boot holds a decent 295-litres of luggage and is nice and wide. As usual the rear seats can be split folded (in a 60/40 format) for carrying larger loads.
Build quality inside is impressive and another step forward for Hyundai and the materials used feel sturdy and hard wearing.
Not so good : As with the exterior, the overall feel of the interior is less funky than a couple of competitors (however, it’s by no means boring). Most of the plastics are of the hard and non premium variety and the grab handles lack damping (however even the competing Volkswagen Polo, a semi-premium player, has to make do with some hard interior plastics inside).
The interior lacks the cleverness of the Honda Jazz (so the rear seats don’t feature a one-touch fold function and the rear bench seat back is slightly higher than the boot floor when folded down.
Good : Two four-cylinder petrol engines on offer. The entry level ‘Active’ grade (available in a three and five door bodystyle) comes with a 1.4-litre with 73kW of power and 136Nm of torque. The mid level ‘Elite’ and the top spec ‘Premium’ grades (both only available as a five door) come with a 1.6-litre, with an impressive 91kW of power and 156Nm of torque.
The 1.4-litre engine feels adequately powered and has no problem keeping up with traffic. However the pick of the two engines is the 1.6L – it’s one of the more powerful offerings in the Supermini segment (discounting hot hatches of course). We like the amount of ‘oomph’ from low in the rev range, which equates to the Elite and Premium grades feeling more responsive and less likely to need to change down through the gears when overtaking.
Fuel economy is impressive (against competing petrol powered competitors). The 1.4L with the five speed manual averages 6.0L, the four speed automatic 6.4 litres, the 1.6-litre manual averages a barely more 6.1 litres and with the auto 6.5 litres (all official combined figures).
Not so good : Both engines feel like they lack a little in refinement against the segment best, becoming noisy and a little coarse at high revs (in isolation they are both o.k.). Hyundai also offer the i20 with a frugal 1.4-litre turbo diesel overseas – but unfortunately it is unlikely to go on sale Down Under any time soon.
Ride and Handling
Good : Overall the Hyundai i20 strikes a good balance between ride and handling. The setup feels more focused on ride comfort over sports car-like handling (the right direction considering the vehicles intended use), however it stays relatively composed when pushing-on through corners, and body roll is less than the brands previous Supermini (the Getz). Whilst Australian model i20’s feature locally tuned and honed suspension, most of the car’s chassis development was done at the company’s European office (in Germany, and that’s a good thing).
At the same time the i20 is easy to drive at slower urban speeds, with light yet responsive electric steering, a baulk free gearbox and decent pedal weightings.
Not so good : The handling can’t match that of the class leading Ford Fiesta and isn’t as fun to scoot along in either. Over typical Australian secondary road surfaces (i.e. rough, broken-up bitumen) the i20 looses’ a little composure – with the rear suspension struggling to keep things quiet and refined. Overall though the ride and handling is better than the class average.
Buying and Owning
Good : As a whole model range the i20 offers decent value for money (very good at the lower price end and o.k. at the higher end) and overall is a step forward for the brand in the Supermini segment.
The October 2010 upgrade sees Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity as standard across all grades, while the dashboard illumination has changed from orange to blue.
The entry level Active grade comes standard with air-conditioning, power windows and an external temperature display. It also ticks the safety box with standard Electronic Stability Control as well as Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution and Traction Control.
The mid level Elite grade adds a leather finished gear knob and steering wheel (also with audio controls), six instead of four speakers, a trip computer, a luggage net in the rear cargo zone and alloy instead of steel wheels (as well as the larger engine).
The Premium grade adds partially leather trimmed seats and a leather covered driver’s armrest, climate control air-conditioning, individual driver and front passenger map lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels (other grades feature 15-inch wheels). All grades come standard with a full sized spare wheel rather than a temporary space saver.
From October 2010 all grades come standard with six airbags – driver and front passenger front, front side and curtain airbags.
Not so good : Cruise control is not offered (however not many Supermini players do). The standard red piping on the leather trimmed Premium grade is a little garish (however we admit this is purely subjective).