Sunday, September 12, 2010
Designed at Hyundai’s European headquarters in Russelsheim, Germany there’s more than a hint of Corsa about the i20’s lines. Its looks aren’t groundbreaking, but the styling is inoffensive. The entry-level Classic gets painted bumpers, while Comfort and Style trims add alloy wheels, together with colour coded door handles and mirrors. But compared to rivals the i20 lacks character.
The i20 has the best interior we have seen in a small Hyundai and passenger space is on par with class leaders. There’s enough legroom in the back for adults, while the load bay will accommodate 295-litres of luggage. The driving position is good and dash layout is simple. Sadly, some of the plastics still feel a little cheap, although overall quality is much improved over previous Hyundai efforts. All models come with air conditioning, remote locking and a CD player with AUX in socket. Comfort models get coloured upholstery panels and multifunction wheel, while the range topping Style adds leather seats and metallic finish trim for the dashboard.
At present i20 buyers have a choice of three engines. Petrol fans can pick either the all-new 77bhp 1.2-litre unit or a 99bhp 1.4-litre borrowed from the larger i30. The smaller powerplant emits 124g/km of CO2, while the larger motor can be specified with a four-speed automatic gearbox. For owners wanting to cut fuel costs there’s a 1.4-litre oil-burner, which is available in 74bhp and 88bhp states of tune. The lower model will return 64.2mpg and produces 116g/km of CO2.
On the move, the i20 is hard to fault but easy to forget. Driving it presents no challenge, but the experience isn’t as involving as a Ford Fiesta. The steering is let down by an artificial feel either side of the straight-ahead, which adds a vagueness to the i20’s responses. To make matters worse, the action of five-speed manual gearbox lacks the mechanical robustness of class leading rivals. At least the i20 has ample grip and body roll is well controlled. It also feels comfortable at motorway speeds and the engines offer decent urge.
When it comes to ownership costs the i20 is a very attractive proposition. Low emissions drop the car into affordable tax disc groups, while good fuel economy means fewer trips to the filling station. With competitive pricing and generous standard equipment the cars should have reasonable residuals – especially as Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty can be passed on when the car is sold.
All i20s come with six airbags, active head restraints and ISOFIX seats as standard. Stability control is an option across the range – and is well worth considering at £250. Eco-friendly buyers are spoilt for choice, with every model apart from the automatic 1.4-litre petrol producing less than 140g/km of CO2.