Life’s tops at the

This city car shows why bar­gain base­ment doesn’t mean ba­sic

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

THE light car seg­ment is as cut-throat and bar­gain-driven as a New Year’s clear­ance sale. There are nearly as many ca­su­al­ties, too, with sev­eral prom­i­nent brands un­able to find trac­tion in terms of price or fea­tures.

With its i20 hatch, Hyundai fin­ished third in this seg­ment for the se­cond year run­ning.

That’s a huge ef­fort for a car clos­ing in on its fourth year on show­room floors and re­flects the value in the brand and this model.

VALUE

The pric­ing is sharp, the car can carry four adults and the boot space is near the top of the tree. Add low capped-price ser­vic­ing, full-size spare and de­cent fuel econ­omy and it isn’t hard to see why the i20 is so pop­u­lar.

The Ac­tive three-door is $15,590; the more prac­ti­cal five-door is $16,590 and the ex­tra gear on the Elite costs an­other $1000. A four-speed auto in place of the six-speed man­ual adds $2000 to these prices.

All mod­els have key­less en­try, Blue­tooth with au­dio stream­ing and elec­tric fold­ing side mir­rors. The Elite picks up front fog­lights, steer­ing-wheel mounted au­dio con­trols, 15-inch al­loys in place of the 14-inch steel rims and cargo stor­age net. Front and rear park­ing sen­sors are op­tional across the range.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The 1.4- litre four- cylin­der en­gine is far from the most pow­er­ful in the class but still up to the job of haul­ing the i20’s 1200kg mass around town.

The four-speed auto is like­wise on a par with most light cars. Yet while a fivespeed self-shifter is still a rar­ity at the bot­tom of the au­to­mo­tive food chain, Ford’s Fi­esta and Renault’s Clio have six-speed twin-clutch au­tos.

On the in­side the i20 starts to show its age. The blue-lit cen­tre dis­play is rudi­men­tary when com­pared with the likes of the Clio or Fi­esta and the in­te­rior plas­tics aren’t at the top of the class, though they do have a rub­berised tex­ture that mit­i­gates the oth­er­wise hard feel.

A bit of pad­ding on the arm­rests wouldn’t go astray ei­ther.

DE­SIGN

A facelift has fresh­ened the ex­te­rior ap­peal and brought it into line with the Hyundai fam­ily theme. It’s still a fairly generic light-car look.

To com­pen­sate, there is de­cent space space for rear pas­sen­gers. It’s not classlead­ing but it is far from claus­tro­pho­bic in the back and the boot can swal­low a fam­ily of four’s gro­ceries.

The sil­ver sur­round on the au­dio looks like bling for the sake of it and the steer­ing wheel it­self, at least on the Ac­tive mod­els, doesn’t have the grip and com­fort of the lat­est-gen­er­a­tion ve­hi­cles.

SAFETY

No com­plaints here. The i20 was crash-tested by Euro NCAP and the in­ter­preted ANCAP re­sults earn it five stars and a re­spectable 34.07/37. Six airbags have been stan­dard since 2011 and the car feels solid enough on the road.

DRIV­ING

A firm sus­pen­sion can’t dis­guise the fact the i20 lacks the dy­nam­ics of a Mazda2 or Fi­esta.

For those who don’t need that — and that’s the ma­jor­ity of light-car buy­ers, based on sales — the baby Hyundai is a pre­dictable and re­as­sur­ing drive in the wet or dry.

Facelifted: In three-door and (be­low) five door form the i20 fol­low the fam­ily de­sign cues. The in­te­rior shows its age but still is rel­a­tively spa­cious

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