A Complete Review - The Hyundai i20

The Hyundai i20 is a bargain buy offering incredibly cheap running costs and a ton of equipment. It’s been specifically designed for the European market with the aim of turning the Korean budget brand into a mainstream player in the West.
Hyundai i20 Car Review
The fact this little Hyundai represents excellent value for money will surprise no one. The Koreans want the i20 to be considered as a viable alternative to European supermini rivals traditionally considered more stylish.
With this in mind it is perhaps a little surprising that the i20’s exterior doesn’t make a bolder statement. The shape is elegant enough, but there’s a bit to do yet before it can match the class leaders. Having said that it’s certainly an improvement on Hyundai’s previous offerings.
A big plus is the i20’s range of frugal and fun engines. The cheapest model to run will be the 1.4-litre diesel, which returns ultra low carbon dioxide emissions and an exceptional average fuel economy figure of 64mpg.
But Hyundai expects its 1.2-litre petrol to be its biggest seller. Yes it’s not as powerful but it has spirit and suits this nippy little car better than a diesel.
The Hyundai i20 is also much sharper to drive than the Hyundai Getz it replaces. It rolls less and handles well even when pushed hard.
Much of the i20’s chassis development was carried out at Hyundai’s European hub in Frankfurt and the German influence is obvious in the way this car drives – and mostly it is a good thing.
The start of 2009 saw Hyundai decide to undercut its main competitors on price which combined with the cheap as chips running costs make the i20 a potent package.
It comes with a five year warranty, will cost £90 to tax from April and low mileage versions are predicted to retain almost half their value over three years.
As small cars go it’s bigger than average and can seat six footers front and back while boot space is adequate at 295 litres. In mid-range Comfort trim, the cabin is brightened up with either blue or red upholstery panels in the doors.
The i20s windows are big and the driving position is quite high, so it’s very easy to see out of. However, taller drivers might feel that they’re perched up a bit too high.
The dashboard’s simple design makes it easy to use but it’s a bit bland to look at.
There’s enough cabin space for four adults to sit comfortably although five is a bit of a squeeze in the i20.
Life Style
The i20’s light controls and punchy engines make it easy to drive in town, and it’s no slouch when the pace picks up either.
Although the i20 is only available as a five speed manual, the performance is more than adequate and it does not run out of puff at motorway speeds either.
The ride is firm, and indeed this may be an issue for some, but the i20 is exciting to drive with good levels of grip, while the handling is stable and predictable. The steering is a bit uninformative, but not enough to spoil the overall driving experience.
Performance is better than the official statistics would at first suggest with the i20 not slow to react when the traffic lights go green.
Refinement is good with even the entry-level petrol engine remaining hushed when the car is cruising along while little wind or road noise make it into the cabin.
Materials used in the interior are sturdy and functional, so they shouldn’t be ruined by the prying fingers of fidgety kids and the seats are comfortable and supportive.
The i20 copes with needs of a family rather well, although those with pushchairs, prams and all the paraphernalia associated with tiny tots may mean it being more suitable as a second car. It would be a logical choice for the shortlist of younger buyers, especially those looking for their first car.
Security and Safety
The i20 is one of the few superminis that offers stability control as standard across the range. Other safety measures found in all models are six airbags and anti-whiplash head restraints. Remote central locking is also offered as standard.
The Finishing Touches
The stereo sounds fine and is a European unit that is well integrated with the dashboard. All models come with an iPod connection as standard. Entry level Classic cars come with air conditioning and electric front windows. But stepping up to Comfort spec attracts masses of kit including alloys, electric rear windows and steering wheel-mounted controls while Style models get luxuries such as half-leather seats, a leather steering wheel, front foglights and climate control.