Open your i to a good

Hyundai of­fers a lot for less than $15,000, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

IT’S ar­rived a week late, but the Hyundai i20 is ready to go on the cars­Guide tread­mill. The baby Hyundai comes with the sort of ‘‘all-new’’ prom­ises you get with a ma­jor model change, from the en­gine and sus­pen­sion right through to the safety pack and cabin equip­ment.

It also has many ‘‘sur­prise-and-de­light’’ fea­tures that are new for a South Korean car with a $14,990 start­ing price, in­clud­ing au­to­matic door lock­ing and auto-off head­lamps.

These sorts of things were a big deal when they first came on a Lexus LS 20 years ago and set a tar­get for Hyundai’s price-first ri­vals.

But the i20 is not what it seems. It’s not a re­place­ment for the top-sell­ing Getz. In­stead, Hyundai Au­to­mo­tive is us­ing the Euro-fo­cused i20 to spread its reach in the small-car class, most likely us­ing a baby i10 with a $13,000-ish price af­ter the Getz dies next year.

Value

THE $14,990 start­ing point for the i20 is above the Getz, partly be­cause it is newer and costs more to make and partly be­cause it will be part of a two-car at­tack next year. There’s also a good chance the $14,990 three-door hatch will be the sub­ject of Hyundai’s long-run­ning ‘‘drive­away’’ pric­ing pol­icy af­ter early de­mand slows a lit­tle.

Eight mod­els are in the line-up, but only the 1.4-litre Ac­tive man­ual makes the bot­tom line, with an au­to­matic gear­box adding an­other $2000 and the top-line 1.6-litre Pre­mium auto tak­ing the price all the way to $23,490, with $320 ex­tra for metal­lic paint.

The value story is still strong be­cause the ba­sic car comes with air­con­di­tion­ing, power steer­ing and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, and the elec­tric mir­rors fold flat for tight park­ing spots.

Mov­ing up to the Elite brings a trip com­puter, leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel and al­loy wheels. The Pre­mium gets au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing, big­ger al­loys and com­bi­na­tion leather/cloth trim.

Com­pared with its ri­vals, the value deal on the i20 is im­pres­sive, even if the bot­tom line is not as sharp as some con­tenders.

Technology

THE me­chan­i­cal plat­form for the i20 is new and that means lots of good things, in­clud­ing the lat­est Gamma-se­ries four-cylin­der en­gine. Out­puts are 73.5kW/ 136Nm as a 1.4-litre and 91.1kW/156Nm in the larger 1.6, with claimed econ­omy from 6.0 litres/ 100km and CO

2 emis­sions from 142g/km.

But it has only a sim­ple tor­sion-beam rear axle, stan­dard for the class, which lim­its sus­pen-

Quiet achiever: Hyundai says it has put a lot of hard work into cut­ting noise and im­prov­ing the driv­ing dy­nam­ics of the i20.

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