£10,180 - £13,680 Price range
47 - 76 MPG
The popularity of Hyundai’s i20 took off with the government scrappage scheme a few years back. For not much more than the price of the cheapest new car on sale today, the Dacia Sandero, you could get hold of a talented supermini with Hyundai’s rapidly improving quality levels. For most buyers, that was a no-brainer – and while the scrappage scheme is no longer active, the i20 has improved further.
The inside of the i20 looks much the same as its pre-facelift predecessor, but Hyundai has improved the quality of some of the plastics. One reviewer says the i20 is “now on a par with some of the better superminis, even if it can’t match the VW Polo.” Another says some trim parts feel flimsy though, and the trip computer integrated into the top of the dashboard looks dated.
In the i20’s favour, stowage space within the cabin is good, with cup holders, cubbyholes and an air-conditioned glovebox. The driving position also has a good range of adjustment in both wheel and seat, and there’s a lot of space for rear passengers. One review even notes that it’s possible to seat one six-footer behind another – rare in this class.
A few testers suggest that the front seats aren’t perfect though – one says they’re a little too high, another that they lack lateral support, and another that they lack under-thigh support.
You won’t find any Ford Fiesta-style balance or fun here – instead, the i20 is geared towards ease of use. The steering, clutch, gearshift, throttle and brakes are all light and easy to use. While those pootling around town will find this ideal, drivers who venture further afield may not – one test suggests “the suspension struggles to keep the body level and stable over short frequency undulations”, and that the steering “has a strange, gloopy resistance” which makes it hard to judge how much grip is left.
The levels of grip are “modest”, and there’s some body roll. But drivers do say that for most owners, the compliant ride in town and tight turning circle are more important than possible handling thrills. Wind and road noise are kept low too.
There are four engines available in the i20: 1.2 and 1.4 petrols (the latter with an optional auto gearbox) and 1.1 and 1.4 diesels (both available in low-emission ‘Blue Drive’ spec). The 1.2 petrol and 1.1 diesel have been most frequently tested, and both are decent units.
The petrol is smooth and refined in isolation, while more powerful and parsimonious than before, but in one test against a rival, the Suzuki Swift, its talents wane – it’s neither as efficient, nor as fun, and it’s noisier too. The manual gearbox is described as notchy in several reviews, too – in both petrol and diesel variants.
The diesel itself is a better engine. While not particularly powerful at only 71 horsepower, its real benefit is fuel efficiency. In ‘Blue’ specification, its official combined fuel economy figure is 88.3 mpg – one of the highest on sale. Emissions are low too, at 84 g/km of CO2. It’s also surprisingly adept at motorway cruising.
Value for money
The i20 is both affordable and well-equipped, so represents strong value. Hyundai’s ‘Triple Care’ package is also standard, which means five years of unlimited-mileage warranty, RAC roadside assistance and annual health checks. That’s something few other rivals offer.
Economy is also good on the diesels (though they’re more expensive than petrol models). Unfortunately, it’ll never be quite as good value as its scrappage scheme-assisted predecessor.
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If you’re not keen on the Hyundai’s styling but like the package itself, you could try Hyundai’s partner, Kia. The Kia Rio is essentially an i20 in different clothes, and to most eyes it’s the more attractive car.
There’s plenty to like about the i20 and the generally positive reviews reflect this. In isolation it’s a perfectly good car, very easy to drive and well-equipped. However, it’s ultimately not as talented as some rivals, has so-so looks, and still feels a little cheap in places.
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