The Hyundai i20 has become more stylish, feature-packed and pricier in its newest avatar. Does it live up to its price tag? We set out to find out…
Words: Neeraj Padmakumar Images : Ajay
The Hyundai i20 is a car that needs no preface in the Indian context. The car had originally been introduced in our country as a replacement for the Hyundai Getz in 2008. The first-gen i20 was then welcomed with great zeal by the Indian buyers and could be called the first proper premium hatchback from the manufacturer here. The later years saw the introduction of the second generation (which goes by the name Elite i20) and now the third gen is here as well ! Just to give you a glimpse of how popular the i20 as a brand has been, let me now tell you that Hyundai has sold over 6.7 lakh units of this car in India during its six-year run here. With that said, let us now dive into the third-gen i20…
To start with, the new i20 has definitely grown in size. It is built on the new K platform from Hyundai. This essentially means that it is now 41mm wider than the car it replaces. This new architecture being significantly lighter than its predecessor while offering better structural rigidity also mean that the new i20 has the advantage of weight, while talking performance.
Hyundai’s novel design direction, the ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ reflects in every inch of the new car. There are so many lines, drawn so beautifully as to keep the overall styling absolutely appealing to the millenials.
The edgy front fascia bears distant resemblances to the recently launched Hyundai Verna, but felt more aggressive to our eyes. Hyundai has ditched chrome for the grille, which is now finished in glossy black alone. There is black on the front lip as well. The Indian iteration gets powerful LED projector-beam headlamps with neatly integrated cornering lamps and DRLs, while the global models come with full-LED units.
There is a bunch of neatly drawn lines on the profile as well, rendering an air of premiumness to the silhouette.There is a wise use of chrome and black, to further add to the visual appeal. The decently sized rear quarter glass looks good on the rather unconventionally styled C pillar.
The i20’s rear design looked absolutely striking to my eyes. It feels compact, stylish and elegant, all in one go! The tail lamp units have ‘Z’ shaped LED elements which literally scream the car’s presence out. End up waiting at the toll gate with at least a 10 vehicles to have you tailed and the last one in the line would still figure out that you are driving an i20! Quite distinctive a design statement, this however, is not something that everyone alike, would fall head over heels for! The hatch gets a black applique, quite similar to the one we had seen previously on the Tata Altroz. You could also find other elements finished in black at the rear but no exposed tailpipes!
The new Hyundai i20 gets a well laid out cabin that looks equally stylish. Black dominates on the inside too. A 10.25 inch touchscreen takes the centre stage and has every bit of connectivity you would ever need, the Apple CarPlay (wired though !) and Android Auto to name a few. There’s also a neat in-built navigation system that is easy to use. The touchscreen is quite responsive and user-friendly. It also gets Hyundai’s Bluelink connected car system as well. The top spec car gets a BOSE audio system that excels in sound quality.
The air conditioning system gets stylish toggle switches which further up the style quotient on the inside. A couple of lines on the dash, forming what looks like a continuation of the horizontal air vents, is quite stylish a bit, but resembles some Maruti Suzukis of the day.
The multi-function steering wheel gets the familiar 4 spoke design of the modern day Hyundais. The fully digital instrumentation looks much similar to the one on the Verna. The unit feels quite readable in the first go. However, look at it again and you would find the design of the counter clockwise tacho quite weird.
The seats offer decent support in the front row and are fabric units in all variants except the turbo petrol. The rear gets a bench that lacks the potential for being folded in the 60:40 fashion but has good amounts of leg, head, and knee rooms. The bump in the width of the platform definitely reflects as added room on the inside. Thus the rear bench can seat three without much fuss. It has a rather soothing angle as well. Plus, Hyundai has provided amenities like air-con vents and charging sockets for the rear occupants as well.
The cabin, despite being finished in black, is the least claustrophobic, thanks to the decent-sized sunroof and rear quarter glass. It is a lot practical as well, as there are quite a number of cubby holes, storage spaces, and a glovebox, that is just as big as to be called ‘OK’. The 311 liters of boot space cannot be called class-leading, but definitely gets the job done in most scenarios. Another interesting bit about the cabin, though is the ‘air purification unit’ on offer, which is claimed to ionize and purify the cabin air, thus destroying any potent bacteria/viruses that it may contain.
The new i20 has on offer three different engines- 1.2L NA petrol, 1.5L diesel and 1.0L turbocharged petrol. While the turbo petrol comes mated to a 7 speed DCT auto box and the iMT and the NA petrol a CVT, the diesel gets just a 6 speed manual transmission. We chose to test the diesel powered i20 for now.
The diesel mill on the new i20 is good to churn out 99 bhp and 240Nm, pretty good for a car of this class. However, there is no automatic box on offer on the diesels. The 6-speed manual box offers slick and precise shifts and has wisely set gear ratios.
Performance And HandlIng
The i20’s diesel engine is quite punchy and offers decent low-end grunt. The mid-range, however, is the cream here. Post-2000 rpm, there is a commendable flow of torque till 4000 rpm. I do not mean to say that you cannot spin this mill any further by this. You sure can, but post 4000 rotations, there comes a significant drop in torque. With that said, getting up to three-digit speeds is no big job.
The steering feel and feedback have had much improvements as per Hyundai standards, but are still nowhere near being enthu-cupcakes. I felt it to be lifeless many a time, but could not complain as there have been HUGE improvements on the steering front from the car it replaces. This new unit weighs nicely with speeds, adding to your confidence. However, one would not call this car perfect around the corners.
High-speed stability as such is decent. The car feels planted at three digit speeds, thanks to the hefty diesel engine and the revised suspension. In fact, I could push it to 140 kmph and still feel it to be well-mannered and wanting more punches from my toes. But, I would stop just there and not go any further as the tires absolutely lack grip. Hyundai should have given this car better tires.
The ride at the rear is quite planted and comfortable at most speeds. You do not get to feel small, if not moderate potholes and bad patches inside the cabin. Also absent is any sort of wobbling motion at higher speeds.
The car gets disc brakes for the front axle and drums at the rear. These offer decent bite and have good stopping power. Also on offer are various safety technologies like ABS, EBD, traction control etc.
The 1.5L diesel powerhouse onboard our test car is something that we have seen in many of the Hyundai Group’s present-day products. It is also a mill that has been well known for its fuel efficiency. With an ARAI certified figures of over 25 km per litre, we managed to score a max of 18+ and the lowest of 12 kmpl during our test tenure. What I can say for sure is that this is one such mill that would give you mind-blowing fuel figures if you choose to drive wisely.
If anything could ever make you cast a second thought on buying the new Hyundai i20, it would be its prices. Hyundai has placed this premium hatchback on the pricier side. The prices for the base petrol starts at INR 6.80 lakh. Well, that obviously is quite premium for a car of this class. The diesel Asta that we had for review would cost you a massive 10.60 lakh. Well, I would rather end this article by saying ‘ the new i20 is good and good things come with a price !’
What I Liked In The Car?
- Potent engine
- The improvements in handling and dynamics
- Fuel efficiency
- Cabin comfort and the equipment on offer
- The overall refinement levels are epic!
What Could Have Been Improved?
- Certain areas in the cabin do have a lot of hard plastics used.
- I did not find the placement of the Start/Stop button much ergonomic, as it took me quite a lot of time actually finding the thing out !
- Definitely need a better set of tyres
Find out more about the i20 here