Hyundai i20 Active Quick Drive Review

While we wait and see whether the Dacia Sandero has blown open the market for inexpensive superminis, cars like Hyundai's i20 are still the default budget choice.

We've spent a couple of days with the i20 in 1.2 Active specification. Is it now stuck in limbo between the established class leaders and the bullish new Dacia?

In shy and retiring Coral White the i20 isn't the most striking of shapes, less still with five doors. It's modestly attractive though, enhanced by the 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights standard on Active models.

Hyundai i20 Active rear

We reckon the Kia Rio, similar under the skin, is the looker of the duo - though you'll pay extra for similar spec. With Bluetooth connectivity, heated electric mirrors, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel and leather gearknob, there's plenty of kit in the Hyundai. Five-door models also get indicator repeaters built into the door mirrors.

The interior lacks the Kia's modernity too, but comfort and usability can't be faulted. There was plenty of space for this 5'8" tester, with enough to sit behind the driver's seat when suitably adjusted. At 295 litres, the boot is par for the class, and a usable shape.

Hyundai i20 Active interior

The 84-horsepower 1.2-litre petrol engine's main strengths are smoothness and silence, and while outright performance isn't in its repertoir (0-62 mph takes 12.7 seconds), it feels peppy around town.

The sharp low-revs throttle response actually takes a little getting used to, but the gearbox is quick and light so zipping around city centres is a breeze.

While hitting motorway speeds isn't an issue and the engine is still largely inaudible, you do notice quite a bit of wind noise around the mirrors and B-pillars.

Hyundai i20 Active wheel

Rough surfaces seem to cause plenty of tyre noise too, though ride quality is good. It's no B-road hero on the handling front, with plenty of body roll and modest grip, but exciting handling is unlikely to be a priority for the i20's target audience.

Economy will be, and the trip computer showed a more than respectable 48 mpg after a wide mix of driving conditions - certainly enough to make you question the need for a diesel.

Price as tested: 11,595
Combined MPG: 57.6
CO2: 114 g/km

Hyundai i20 Active badge


We were pleasantly surprised by the i20. Its mundane looks inside and out hide a practical supermini with a generous equipment tally. It lacks the exitement and styling pizazz of the class best, but this may not concern some buyers.
More of an issue is that Dacia Sandero factor - it's not appreciably worse to drive, but it's even more practical and even better equipped for even less money. The i20 is a decent car in isolation, but its value status has been completely undermined by the new challenger.
For more information check out our full summary of the Hyundai i20 alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!
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