While it is true that the Hyundai i20 has never been a headline-grabbing car, it has quietly carved itself a very sizeable niche in the South African market. In fact, it is one of the top selling B-segment hatchbacks, mostly due to its appealing combination of features, warranty and no-nonsense simplicity. But the game in this segment has moved on significantly in recent months, with new arrivals such as the revised VW Polo, new Opel Corsa, Mazda2 and Honda Jazz vying for attention. Where does the new Hyundai fit in the pecking order?
More important in this segment than flashy design, however, is practicality. The new i20 is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor and affords its occupants more space all-round, while the boot is commendably large at 294 litres and also well shaped to accommodate a variety of objects. The rear seats can be split and folded for the transportation of even larger items. A full-size spare wheel is located underneath the boot floor.
Despite its entry level positioning, the interior of the i20 Motion manages not to feel low-rent. In fact, the light inserts in the upholstery add a dash of cheerfulness to the otherwise dark cabin. Build quality is predictably very good, with excellent fit and finish evident throughout the interior.
For the money, you get air-conditioning, a radio/CD system with aux/USB support, Bluetooth, a trip computer and electric front windows. The safety package consists of dual front airbags and ABS with EBD. Oversights? Well, parents may be dismayed to find that there are no Isofix child seat anchors at the rear. And for some the manual rear windows will be an irritation.
Still, the 1.2-litre engine under i20’s bonnet is hardly big, so it has its work cut out – it delivers 61 kW and a relatively meagre 115 Nm of torque. Even so, the i20 feels rather perky around town, with good responsiveness provided you stir the slick five-speed gearbox. Most testers felt that the power was perfectly sufficient for town use, with the lack of urge only really becoming prevalent at higher (overtaking) speeds close to the national speed limit.
Hyundai claims a consumption figure of 5.9 L/100 km, but you’re more likely to achieve a figure of closer to 7 L/100 km.
One of the criticisms that could be leveled at the previous i20 (and there weren’t many), was relatively poor NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) control and a somewhat unrefined ride quality. These concerns have certainly been addressed with the newcomer – it boasts a body that is 64 % more torsionally rigid than before. The cabin is now a much more isolated place, and the i20 now suppresses road imperfections with greater composure. Coupled with very light steering, the little Hyundai is therefore an impressively comfortable city runner that can now more confidently head out of town, too.
We Like: Practicality, Comfort, Quality, Warranty
We don’t Like: Overtaking power
Also consider: Opel Corsa, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta
See a comparison between the Hyundai i20, Opel Corsa and Volkswagen Polo here.