Inside the new, SA-bound Hyundai i20


Hyundai has released interior images of its new i20 compact hatchback, which is expected in South Africa in late 2020/early 2021. In keeping with its sportier exterior, the Korean firm's rival to the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris and, above all, Volkswagen Polo, has a decidedly youthful – and less utilitarian – interior. 

When Hyundai released official images of the next-generation i20 last month (ahead of the Geneva Show, which was subsequently cancelled), we were left feeling a trifle short-changed when there was a detailed description of the interior, but just a stylised sketch and a solitary image of the new car’s cabin.

Lower, wider and with sharper styling: the new i20 lends itself to sportier derivatives and a younger/more youthful clientele.

Perhaps the Korean firm wanted to release full details at the show (we’ll never know), but now that we’ve seen the new Elantra, which is reportedly not on the cards for South Africa, we reckon the compact sedan’s upmarket interior would have seemed rather derivative of the i20’s smart cabin design…

Like its Venue sibling, the i20 in the SA market is sourced from Hyundai’s Indian factory. Reports from the subcontinent suggest the new i20 will become available there in June and, hopefully, it will arrive in local showrooms early next year, if not a little sooner. Its arrival date will depend on several factors, including how long it takes to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the local stock levels of the existing model and, to a large extent, an improvement in the current rand/dollar exchange rate, which has notably weakened after Moody’s downgraded SA’s sovereign credit rating to “junk” status at the weekend.

The dual-tone paint scheme is becoming increasingly popular as an option; note the black trim strip in the middle of the tailgate.

But it is coming! The new i20’s arrival will be preceded by the mid-year introduction of the new Grand i10 budget hatchback and the launch of the next-generation Creta around the end of the 3rd quarter. After the all-new Creta (also sourced from India), the i20 will be 2nd Hyundai on the South African market to incorporate the brand's new "Sensuous Sportiness" design language.

Hyundai says the i20’s interior is meant to have “a spacious, airy atmosphere… offer modern aesthetics and all the tech features available.” It certainly looks the part!

We don't expect the digital instrument cluster to be offered in SA, but the touchscreen and climate control console are tastefully integrated into the fascia. 

As these pictures show, the newcomer's fascia design is sweeping – characterised by a quartet of vents hidden in the expansive bank of black blades that stretch from one end of the cabin to the other. It’s a little less driver-focused than in the new Elantra; the touchscreen and climate control console are angled only slightly towards the 4-spoke steering wheel.

In the top specification, the interior comes equipped with, inter alia, a digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch infotainment system, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control, fast-charging as well as auxiliary USB ports, a 12V power outlet, a wireless charging pad, PDC (in conjunction with a reverse-view camera), while a Bose audio system with 8 speakers is optional.

Note how the door handle surround is ribbed to mimic the pattern of the louvred ventilation outlets and decorative dash trim.

We hasten to note, however, that the specification of the local i20 range has always been more prudent (value-oriented) than luxurious; the local compact hatchback market is very competitive and particularly price-sensitive…

We’d like to see nice-to-have features such as the LED mood lighting, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment screen with extended features and even the ‘charging pad, but even though the new model will be smarter inside than its predecessor, it’s more than likely, however, that derivatives in our market will have analogue instruments (albeit in conjunction of a TFT driver info display) and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system... but one that is nonetheless compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This European-spec model features a 60/40 split seatback. Check out the Bose subwoofer on the left side of the luggage bay.

We already know that the i20 is lower (by 24 mm), wider (by 30 mm) and 5-mm longer than its predecessor, but its wheelbase has been lengthened by 10 mm to marginally increased rear legroom. Claimed luggage space has also been increased (by approximately 66 litres) to 351 litres, but we don’t know whether that takes into account the extra underfloor storage space shown on this Euro-spec version; it may be equipped with a space-saver spare wheel.

We will, however, confidently speculate on the engine line-up. Whereas the current range’s entry-level 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine (mated with a 5-speed manual ‘box) will be carried over remains to be seen – it will depend if Hyundai South Africa has fleet aspirations for the new range or don’t mind a potential overlap with the top-end of the Grand i10 line-up. However, it’s very likely that the now ubiquitous 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol motor, which produces 88 kW and 172 Nm – will debut in the new range, in combination with a 6-speed manual and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Rear occupants are afforded slightly more legroom than before. We hope the contrast stitching is offered on local models too.

As for the safety specification, we hope that the new range will feature stability control over and above ABS with EBD (as is the case in the recently-launched Venue). Only the top-spec 1.0T Glide derivative of that compact family car range features more than 2 airbags and a 60/40 split rear seatback – hopefully, if the new i20 does the same on the former (front- and front passenger airbags), it might offer the latter as standard? Fingers crossed.

We’ll bring you more information on the new i20’s range expected date of arrival (EDA) and launch line-up as soon as details become available.

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