New Hyundai i20: Likely SA line-up

Hyundai I20 8

The new Hyundai i20 is scheduled to go on sale in Mzansi in mid-2021. Details of the compact hatchback range in the Indian market (from where the SA-market model will be sourced) have been revealed, which provides strong clues to the new range’s local line-up...

Unveiled on the eve of the (ultimately cancelled) Geneva Show in March, the new latest i20 represents a fairly dramatic departure from its predecessor. Whereas the outgoing model was handsome, yet relatively plain-looking, this iteration is much more radical.

Hyundai's "Sensuous Sportiness" design language has introduced sharper styling, a lower roofline and a wider body to endow this new i20 with a more purposeful stance than it had before. The sportiest iteration of the new model we’ve seen is the recently-unveiled i20 N hot hatch, although it’s not a strong prospect for local introduction…

The i20 is longer now too, both nose-to-tail and between the axles, which should bode well for passenger- and luggage space. In the International Launch Review of the i20 (published in July), our correspondent found that rear passengers were afforded (relatively) generous legroom and a fair bit of headroom, so moderately-tall adults should be able to fit in the back. The load bay, meanwhile, offers up to 351 litres of luggage capacity.

As opposed to this example, the Indian market will offer the i20 in red-and-black and white-and-black dual-tone schemes.

But which derivatives of the new range are likely to be offered in South Africa? Well, the i20 will be offered in India with a choice of a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol and 1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel engines. Whereas India gets Magna, Sportz and Asta trim lines, we’ll get Motion, Fluid and, perhaps, Glide spec levels.

The 1.5-litre turbodiesel is unlikely to be offered in Mzansi, where all manufacturers (with the exception of Ford, with the Fiesta 1.5TDCi Trend) have removed "oil-burners" from their compact hatchback ranges. The 61-kW 1.2-litre petrol should again be the entry point, mated either with a 5-speed manual ‘box or a continuously-variable automatic transmission.

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

The 74 kW 1.4-litre petrol motor in the current range, meanwhile, will be superseded by the 88 kW 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-pot (from the Venue compact family car), in combination with either a 6-speed Intelligent Manual (iMT) or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 

The newly developed iMT is quite an interesting proposition, because, like an automatic, it has only two pedals (for the accelerating and braking functions, obviously), but software and actuators control the Hyundai's clutch while you manually shift gears through the H-pattern gate. The benefit of the iMT is cost-saving, but whether it might catch on in our market is another matter. By all accounts, it's nicer to use than conventional AMTs.

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

Autocar India reports the India-spec i20 looks largely similar to the international-spec model, but foregoes all-LED headlights for projector headlights with LED DRLs. There are 8 paint finishes, including red-and-black or white-and-black dual-tone colour schemes.

Inside, the newcomer's fascia design is sweeping (at least by Hyundai compact car standards) and 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 (not coming to SA); the touchscreen and climate control console are angled only slightly towards the 4-spoke steering wheel.

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

The interior can be equipped with, inter alia, a digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch infotainment system, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control, a fast-charging USB port, a 12V power outlet, a wireless charging pad and PDC (in conjunction with a reverse-view camera), as well as an 8-speaker Bose audio system.  

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… Still, Autocar India reports that their market's range-topping i20 Asta (O) will indeed feature the large 10.25-inch touchscreen, digital instrumentation, Bose audio and a sunroof (among other features)…

Stylistically, the new i20 is much more interesting than the previous generation.

It’s more likely, however, that most 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’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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) and will probably offer the latter as standard.

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