Hyundai i20 Review
Combining competitive prices, lots of equipment and a good warranty, the Hyundai i20 could well tempt you away from the more familiar alternatives, but it’s not very stylish inside
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Good safety tech
- Generous warranty
- Competitively priced
What's not so good
- Drab cabin design
- Weak entry-level engine
- Uninspiring handling
Hyundai i20: what would you like to read next?
The Hyundai i20 is a small hatchback that rivals the Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia and Vauxhall Corsa. The i20 comes with either three or five doors and Hyundai has also added a slightly taller version, which we’ve reviewed separately, called the Hyundai i20 Active. There will also be a hot-hatch version called the i20 N.
The Hyundai i20 was first introduced in 2008, with a new model arriving in 2014, but a 2018 facelift has made it safer and more technologically advanced than ever.
There’s a new look on the outside, including new alloy wheel and paint options, while a seven-speed automatic gearbox joins the range for the first time.
On the safety side, the Hyundai i20 now gets SmartSense active safety, which is standard on SE trim and above and includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, drive attention warning and high beam assist.
The new Hyundai i20 ditches the smartphone cradle of the old 2014 car, now fitting a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and DAB radio all thrown in. On more expensive models, a built-in sat-nav and live information services are added to the same system too.
Forget the entry-level S model - go straight for SE trim as it gets all of Hyundai’s additional features for a sensible price
You’ll see the trim structure remains the same: S, SE, Premium Nav and Premium SE Nav. Entry-level S models are well equipped, but it’s worth stepping up to SE for all of the aforementioned safety kit, its leather steering wheel and gear lever and rear parking sensors, all for a modest rise in price.
Engine choice hasn’t changed, either. You can have a 75hp 1.2-litre engine with S trim only, but it’s worth spending slightly more on Hyundai’s 84hp 1.2 or turbocharged 100hp 1.0-litre from SE trim and up, as you’ll welcome the extra power. The range-topping 120hp 1.0-litre option available only with Premium SE Nav trim isn’t really worth the extra cost.
If you want to take advantage of Hyundai’s new seven-speed auto, you’ll have to go for the 100hp 1.0-litre in any case.
The Hyundai i20’s cabin is all about function over form. As a result, it’s all very easy to use and impressively roomy, but it looks very forgettable compared with other small cars
Unlike in most small cars, there’s room for four six-foot-tall adults to get pretty comfy in the Hyundai i20. Sadly, this roomy cabin comes at the expense of boot space…
The Hyundai i20 is something of a Tardis – it looks pretty dinky on the outside but there’s more room inside for adults than you get in almost any other small hatchback
The compact Hyundai i20 is surprisingly roomy inside for such a small car. There’s ample head and legroom in the front for tall drivers to get comfortable and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and height to make sure you get a good view of the dials.
Every Hyundai i20 comes with a height-adjustable driver’s seat so shorter drivers will have no problem getting a good view out, and the seats themselves are comfortable and supportive. You can’t get adjustable lumbar support to help reduce the risk of backache on long drives, but you do get heated front seats in high-spec Premium SE Nav models.
Unlike the old Hyundai i20, this new model comes with front and rear doors as standard. As a result, you don’t have to get out to let passengers climb into the back seats and it’s a doddle to fit a bulky child seat using the standard Isofix anchor points. Unlike in some small hatchbacks, there aren’t any annoying plastic covers or folding flaps to get in the way, either.
Even with a six-foot-tall driver in the front, there’s just about enough space for an equally tall passenger to sit in the back. There’s plenty of space under the front seat for them to put their feet and there’s enough headroom that they won’t have to slouch to avoid touching the roof.
There’s plenty of shoulder room for three kids to get comfy in the back seats, but three adults will find things rather cramped on long drives. The central rear seat is narrower and harder than the outer two, but at least the rear floor is almost completely flat so your middle passenger has plenty of space for their feet.
The Hyundai i20 might be small, but it comes with a good number of handy storage spaces to help you keep its interior looking nice and tidy. The front door pockets are roomy enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and those in the back can carry a slightly smaller 1.0-litre one.
There’s space to squirrel away a few phones in the cubby under the front armrest (standard in Premium Nav cars and above) and the glovebox is big enough to hold a 1.0-litre bottle. All but S models come with a cooled glovebox, too – perfect for storing drinks on hot days.
It’s not all good news, however – you don’t get a folding rear armrest and the front cupholders are rather shallow and quite narrow so they’ll have trouble holding anything larger than a small cup of coffee.
The Hyundai i20’s 326-litre boot puts it ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta and on a par with the Skoda Fabia, but you can’t fit in quite as much luggage as in the roomier VW Polo. Still, there’s plenty of space for a baby buggy or a pair of large suitcases.
Unfortunately, there’s a very tall boot lip that makes lifting heavy items in and out rather difficult. Go for a Premium Nav or Premium SE Nav model, however, and you get an adjustable boot floor which (in its raised position) reduces this lip from around seven inches to less than four.
There’s space to store the parcel shelf under the boot floor, too, and you get a selection of velcro straps, tether points and two shopping hooks to hold smaller items nice and securely.
If you need to carry very large items and a passenger in the back at once, you can flip the back seats down in a two-way (60:40) split. Fold both back seats down and the Hyundai i20’s load bay grows to 1,042 litres – that’s slightly smaller than in most alternatives but still big enough to carry a bike once you’ve removed one of its wheels.
In models with an adjustable boot floor, the Hyundai i20’s loadbay is completely flat, so it’s easy to push large boxes all the way up behind the front seats.
The Hyundai i20’s perky 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines are great all-rounders, but you can’t get it with a motorway-friendly diesel
The Hyundai i20 won’t put a great big gurning grin on your face on a twisty country road, but it will ferry you home comfortably after a hard day’s work
You can get the Hyundai i20 with four petrol engines, and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
If you’re on a very strict budget, one of the 1.2-litre non-turbocharged cars is worth considering. These come with just 75hp and 84hp (so they feel a tad sluggish) but they’ll have no trouble pottering around town. Hyundai claims they’ll return around 50mpg, but you can expect to see a figure in the low-to-mid forties in normal driving conditions.
If you take in a broader mix of city and countryside driving, one of the turbocharged 1.0-litre models will be much more suitable. These come in 100hp and 120hp flavours and accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.8 and 10.2 seconds respectively. They’re by no means sporty, but they’ll happily take in the odd motorway journey without struggling. You can expect both versions to return around 45mpg compared to Hyundai’s claimed 56.5mpg.
Both 1.2-litre models and 100hp versions of the 1.0-litre engine comes with five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while 120hp 1.0-litre i20s get a six-speed to help make them quieter at motorway speeds. Both gearboxes are smooth and easy to use – even around town – but the seven-speed automatic you can get in 100hp cars is even better. It’s smoother than most dual-clutch gearboxes at slow speeds and really takes the sting out of long drives in heavy traffic.
It’s only small, but the Hyundai i20 is surprisingly comfortable to drive. On a rough country road its fairly soft suspension does an impressive job ironing out potholes and bumps without any unpleasant body lean that might cause your passengers to feel slightly queasy. Around town, it’ll soak up potholes and drain covers better than some much larger (and more expensive) cars, too.
Speaking of driving in town, the i20’s very easy to manoeuvre thanks to its light steering and good visibility. Its small size makes it a doddle to park, too. You even get a reversing camera as standard across the range, rear parking sensors on SE models and front and rear parking sensors on Premium Nav and Premium SE Nav versions.
Head out of town and onto a motorway, and you’ll only hear a slight hum from the engine in 1.0-litre models, and there isn’t too much noise from the tyres, either. Unfortunately, the Hyundai i20’s door mirrors and windscreen produce quite a lot of wind noise at speed. You do get cruise control as standard in SE models and above, however, to help make long motorway journeys that bit more relaxing.
The previous Hyundai i20 (on which this new model is based) scored a four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2015. The tests have been made much stricter since then, however, so if safety is your main priority, you’ll want to avoid basic S models and go for an i20 fitted with automatic emergency braking as standard. This feature helps you avoid low-speed collisions by automatically applying the brakes if the car detects an obstacle in the road ahead.