Hyundai i20 Review
Competitively priced supermini that is roomy, practical and offers the potential for exceptional fuel economy.
Pros: Well equipped, roomy cabin, good levels of equipment, diesel engine fuel economy
Cons: Not the most modern car in the supermini sector
Trim range: Classic, Blue, Active, Style
Petrol engines: 1.2 (84), 1.4 (98)
Diesel engines: 1.1 (75), 1.4 (90)
Gearboxes: Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, four-speed automatic
What is the Hyundai i20?
The Hyundai i20 is supermini offered in three-door or five-door form. It was launched in early 2008 and facelifted in 2012, and sits between the i10 city car and i30 family hatchback in Hyundai’s range.
The petrol engine range offered in the Hyundai i20 is conventional – an 84hp 1.2-litre or 99hp 1.4-litre. Both perform well but require engine revs to given their best. The 1.4-litre gives a bigger-car feel but the 1.2-litre is perhaps smoother when it is revved through. Only the bigger engine is offered with the optional automatic gearbox.
The 1.4-litre diesel performs strongly and is the best choice if you’re doing high miles. However, the super-efficient three-cylinder 1.1-litre diesel is a real surprise, with a free-revving nature and charismatic sound. It’s far from a budget choice and brings unexpected appeal to fuel-saving motoring.
Ride and handling
Hyundai has chosen a soft and compliant suspension setup for the i20. This means the ride quality is supple in town, soaking up low speed bumps well. It can become a little floaty at higher speeds though, which can unsettle passengers.
The i20 does also roll a bit into corners but the handling itself is safe enough. Electronic stability control is standard on all models. Steering is very light and easy, and the Hyundai supermini is an easy car to control.
Behind the wheel
Dashboard and driving position
The i20 has a high-set driving position, giving a good view out. The seat is height adjustable on all versions should the driver wish to alter this. The steering wheel position can also be altered for both reach and angle.
The dashboard looks a bit dated now but the controls are simple to understand and the plain layout means it is easy to use. Higher spec models have a more upmarket appearance than cheaper versions.
Occupants sit up high in the i20 and flat sides plus thin window pillars mean the view out is clear. The i20 is unavailable with high-power xenon headlights and the standard headlights are only so-so – but upper-grade variants do get LED running lights to help make them more visible to other motorists. These Style versions also get a reverse parking camera built into the rear view mirror.
Gadgets and technology
The i20’s advancing years mean it doesn’t boast the clever technology features many rivals have. The interior is fairly simple and lacks all but the most basic technological features, putting it at a disadvantage compared to rivals.
- Smartphone connectivity: Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition is standard on Active and Style models
- Navigation: Satellite navigation is unavailable
- Personalisation: There are few opportunities to personalise a Hyundai i20
- Audio: USB and aux sockets are standard; Active and Style models get a six-speaker stereo with steering wheel remote controls
- Internet: You can’t get internet access in an i20
- Can it Tweet or Facebook: The i20 cannot Tweet or access Facebook
- What is the standout gadget on the Hyundai i20? Style models are offered with an optional Supervision instrument cluster – an extended trip computer display with added functionality
Passenger space and practicality
The i20 is a reasonably well packaged car with decent levels of interior passenger space. What’s more, the space that is on offer has been very well designed – rear seat occupants will find plenty of foot space below the front seats, for example, adding to the feeling of roominess.
The boot is a very class-competitive 295 litres with the seats up – that’s bigger than a Ford Fiesta, showing how well packaged the i20 is. Fold the seats and it extends to 1050 litres; breaking the 1000-litre barrier is quite an achievement for a supermini, so well done to Hyundai here.
All i20 variants get a 60:40 split rear seat.
The i20 is a reasonably refined car but it lacks the smooth-running sophistication of some newer models such as the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. The petrol engines can sound a bit whiney and the 1.4-litre diesel is a bit clattery (the 1.1-litre is surprisingly smooth). Road and wind noise are acceptable but, again, you can buy quieter cars.
The Hyundai i20 has a full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, and all models come with standard ESC stability control. Front, side and curtain airbags are included on all models too. ISOFIX child seat mountings are fitted to the two outer rear seats. There’s an on/off switch for the passenger airbag.
Running costs/Value for money/Pricing
The Hyundai i20 is a very fuel efficient car – indeed, the 1.1-litre CRDi Blue is among the most fuel efficient diesel superminis you can buy, with average fuel economy of 88.3mpg. The Blue variant achieves this through the use of low rolling resistance tyres, Intelligent Stop & Go and, more controversially, the removal of air con which is standard on all other models.
Petrol-engined models are fuel-efficient too, with the 1.2-litre averaging 57.6mpg and the more powerful 1.4-litre dropping only slightly to 54.3mpg.
Because it is not the most up to date of superminis, the i20 can look a little old fashioned and some of the interior plastics are a bit too shiny and dated. This shouldn’t conceal what an extremely well built car it is though, with good standards of assembly and perfect panel fit outside and in. Hyundai offers a five-year warranty for good reason, you know.
Pricing and equipment
Despite competitive prices, the Hyundai i20 comes with a good level of standard equipment. Even Classic models feature air con, six airbags, trip computer, stability control and USB connectivity; Active models add alloy wheels, electric door mirrors and Bluetooth, with Style versions including climate control, LED running lights, reverse parking sensors and the high-tech rear view mirror with reversing camera.
Value for money
The Hyundai i20 is excellent value for money. Price start from just over £10,000 for a 1.2 Classic, with five-door models costing £600 more. For a car with a standard equipment level as generous as this, value is not in question. Pricier Active models are, if anything, even better value for money, with a price jump of less than £1000 over the Classic. We do think the diesel variants are not quite as impressive value for money though, given the already-strong fuel efficiency of the petrol models.
The Hyundai i20 has an in-house arch rival in the shape of the Kia Rio; that car is newer and more modern-looking than this, so has an advantage over its sibling. The Skoda Fabia is also a value-orientated car while the Dacia Sandero takes low prices to another super-low entry point (although they do creep back up again once you add in essential equipment such as an in-car stereo...).
While not the freshest of superminis, the reliable Hyundai i20 is a solid buy for those seeking value for money. You’ll get better looks and a more enjoyable drive elsewhere, but few cars offer the solidity, reassurance and sheer value for money at this price point than an i20.