Hyundai's bestseller excites in its all-new avatar
Ten years ago when I was looking to buy a new car the first-generation Hyundai i20 had just been updated and stood out with its styling, elaborate feature list and seemingly indestructible build. A decade later it still soldiers on, which is a testament to its quality and fit-finish levels. What you see here is the all-new, third-generation i20 that’s leagues ahead of my car in every aspect. Naturally, I just had to tell Ed that I would like to review it!
Visually the new i20 looks way sportier now, with its sharp lines. I also like the design’s cohesiveness, despite how busy the lines all round are, as they make the car look very compact. The front is more in your face thanks to the large bumper and grille combo, flanked by sleek-looking LED projector headlamps and DRLs and tiny fog lamps. The Z-shaped tail lights make for a very distinctive looking rear. However, I felt the car could have done without the chrome strip joining the tail lights. I also like the low-slung stance, which adds to the car’s overall sportiness along with the 16-inch alloy wheels.
The sportier feel continues inside thanks to the all-black theme, while the straight lines, silver accents and seat piping add a bit of elegance. The steering feels nice to hold and offers a very European feel. I wish it had a flat-bottom too to go with the overall sporty design. The top-spec Asta variant we drove is equipped with a 10.25 inch HD touchscreen display which is a class act with its resolution and layout. It complements the large display for the instrument cluster well, adding to the car’s more premium feel. The instrument cluster looks really good too – it offers a lot of information and is also easy to read on the go.
The i20 now gets Hyundai’s BlueLink connected technology besides Android Auto and Apple CarPlay You will also appreciate the new seven-speaker Bose sound system for its crisp music output (I did!). On the safety front, there’s stability control, six airbags, TPMS, hill start assist and ISOFIX mountings as well. Additionally, the new chassis is also said to absorb impact energy better than before, adding to the safety quotient. Passengers are sure to appreciate the roomy interiors and sunroof, more so since three adults can sit at the back comfortably. At 311 litres, boot space may not be class-leading but is good enough to gobble down a family’s luggage.
We would have loved to drive the 1.0-litre turbocharged version (it just goes with our magazine’s name!) given its outputs of 120PS and 172Nm. That said the heavily updated, 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated four-pot petrol here does not disappoint, delivering 83PS and 115Nm as it adds to the car’s engaging feel with its refinement and performance both. The version we drove is the five-speed manual and the gearbox is as slick-shifting as always, while clutch action is light. Engine refinement is a distinct highlight – you can barely tell its running at idle! There’s ample bottom-end grunt for in-city driving and given the light clutch, I didn’t really mind driving the manual in stop and go traffic. Performance towards the top of the rev range is reasonably good too, though I did feel the need for a sixth cog at highway speeds.
The new chassis is close to 100kg lighter but is also stiffer thanks to the new K-platform using up to 40 percent high strength steel, translating to significantly better dynamics. The suspension is also firmer and the track 30mm wider, which along with the wider, 195-section tyres help the i20 stay planted around bends with lesser body roll. The steering also offers better feedback while offering a more weighted feel, though there is room for further improvement. The brakes offer a progressive feel, but more bite would be nicer to have. So while there is a huge improvement in terms of driver engagement, I would like it to be half a notch higher. I also like the seating – it’s sportier and low slung, but comfortable at the same time. Ride quality is pliant and occupants are cushioned well from bumps and potholes, while ground clearance is excellent despite the car’s increased wheelbase. And these are just some of the factors that help the i20 tick critical boxes for most buyers.
As a package the new i20 is a quantum leap. In fact if anything, it is the perfect recipe to carry forward the car’s legacy as it builds on the original i20’s strengths further. Prices for the 1.2-litre petrol manual start from Rs 6.80 lakh ex-showroom, while the turbo petrol retails at Rs 8.94 lakh onwards. The 1.5-litre diesel retails from Rs 8.19 lakh ex-showroom onwards, going up to Rs 10.75 lakh. That may seem like a lot but the new i20 is a far more evolved version of its predecessor in every department. Overall, the new one is certainly one that I would love to upgrade to!
Hyundai i20 1.2-litre petrol
Engine: 1,197cc, 4-cylinder, naturally-aspirated petrol
Power: 83PS @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 115Nm @ 4,200rpm
Price: Starting Rs 8.69 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi