There’s very little to dislike about the way the Hyundai i20 drives.
Hyundai offers i20 buyers a choice of five engines to choose from – three petrols and two diesels. New to the range is the 1.0-litre petrol, which is available in two states of tune and is our favourite in the range.
If you’re looking to save on the list price of your i20 then buy the 1.2-litre petrol, which comes with either 74 or 84hp. SE trim and below get the former, which returns fuel economy of 55.4mpg. The more powerful version is reserved for high-end models and gets up to 58.9mpg. Neither is quick.
That’s where the 1.0-litre model comes in. Its three-cylinder engine sounds (with a bit of imagination) like a baby Porsche 911 under acceleration and the 118hp model can get from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds. We would stick with the cheaper 99hp model, though, because it has exactly the same 126Ib ft torque figure and most of the time feels just quick. It’s also slightly cheaper to run by returning fuel economy of 65.7mpg rather than 58.9mpg.
The 1.4-litre model comes with a four-speed automatic gearbox as standard but, unless your driving licence is for autos only, its relatively high running costs and sluggish performance put it out of contention.
The new 1.0-litre petrol is all you need
With the arrival of the frugal new 1.0-litre petrol engine, the diesel range has a problem – you’ll have to cover a lot of miles to recoup the £1,000 extra they cost next to a comparable petrol. They’re also slower and noisier.
That all being said, the diesels still have the lowest runnings costs in the range. Cheapest of all is the 74hp 1.1-litre Blue model – its standard stop-start system helps it emit low CO2 emissions of just 84g/km and fuel economy of nearly 90mpg. That all sounds very impressive, but the performance figures take the shine away – it crawls from 0-62mph in 16 seconds and has a top speed of just 99mph. All of which means you’ll have to be on your A game if you want to keep pace with fast moving traffic.
The 1.4-litre 89hp model isn’t as mind-numbingly slow. It gets from 0-62mph in 12.1 seconds and has a top speed of 109mph, but lacks the eye-catching frugality of the basic model – returning fuel economy of 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 106g/km.
Its suspension displays the excellent balance that used to be the preserve of Ford’s models – managing to be comfortable even on bumpy B-roads, yet preventing the body roll that might put you off swinging into corners at pace.
If we were to complain about something it would be the steering. Offering very little in the way of feel, it doesn’t weigh up in corners as much as we would like and, although accurate, could do with being a little quicker turning from lock to lock. That might not be a problem in the low-powered five-door models – comfort is what they are about – but in the sportier 118hp 1.0-litre petrol Coupe, a steering change could unlock an altogether more entertaining prospect. The upcoming performance-orientated i20 N model might be the answer but, until its 2018 launch, the Ford Fiesta remains your best bet if you enjoy driving.
Out on the motorway, however, the balance of power falls back into the i20’s favour. Engine hum in either of the 1.0-litre petrol models is nearly nonexistent and both wind and road noise are well contained. The car feels very stable and all but the most-basic models come with cruise control.