City slicker

The i20 brought pres­tige gear to the city car seg­ment

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­


IT’S A mea­sure of the trans­for­ma­tion of small cars that the Hyundai i20 of a few years ago boasted fea­tures fit­ted only to high-end mod­els of the pre­vi­ous decade.

In the case of the i20, the items from fur­ther up the food chain were auto on-off head­lamps and auto door lock­ing, which would have been un­think­able in a com­pa­ra­ble naugh­ties model. The multi me­dia op­tions were in keep­ing with the pre­vi­ous Benz S-Class limou­sine.

The i20 was an at­trac­tive lit­tle hatch with pleas­ant styling and neat pro­por­tions with good all-round vi­sion.

A three-door model opened the range and there were five­door vari­ants.

There was com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for four with a boot of de­cent pro­por­tions to carry their gear. The base spec was the Ac­tive, in three or five­door guise, with stan­dard air­con­di­tion­ing, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and fold-flat mir­rors.

Avail­able only as a five-door, the mid-range Elite added a trip com­puter, leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel and al­loy wheels. The range-top­ping Pre­mium five-door in­cluded such pre­vi­ously un­dreamt-of lux­u­ries as au­to­matic air, big­ger al­loy wheels and a smat­ter­ing of leather trim.

In the Ac­tive, a 1.4-litre engine (73kW/136Nm) de­liv­ered per­for­mance that was mod­est but ad­e­quate for the class. The Elite had the 1.4 or a larger 1.6-litre with ex­tra punch (91kW/156Nm).

The trans­mis­sion op­tions on all mod­els were five-speed man­ual or four-speed auto, driv­ing the front wheels.


Af­ter a rocky start in Aus­tralia — a se­ri­ous chas­sis flaw in early Ex­cels threat­ened to ground the brand for good— Hyundai has had a largely trou­ble free run and has built an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion. Qual­ity has im­proved markedly and re­li­a­bil­ity is un­der­writ­ten by a five-year war­rant which is ex­tant on even the ear­li­est i20s.

To­day Korea gen­er­ally sur­passes Ja­pan for so­phis­ti­ca­tion and qual­ity. Buy­ers can have con­fi­dence when shop­ping for a used ex­am­ple. The i20, one of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of mod­els, shows no signs of hav­ing any ma­jor flaws that should con­cern po­ten­tial sec­ond-hand buy­ers.

There was one re­call to re­place a label on the jack— a rel­a­tively mi­nor is­sue. Buy­ers need to be aware that the first Ac­tive cars to ar­rive here were equipped with front airbags only, which meant it was rated four stars by ANCAP. Later mod­els, with a full com­ple­ment of front and side airbags, rated five stars.

Im­por­tantly all had elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, as well as anti-lock brakes, trac­tion con­trol and elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion, all of which con­trib­ute to im­pres­sive safety cred.

As with any used car pur­chase, make sure your po­ten­tial choice has been ser­viced as per Hyundai’s rec­om­men­da­tion.


Good value-for-money, solid per­for­mance, top safety and it’s re­li­able. It’s worth check­ing out.

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