Life’s tops at the
This city car shows why bargain basement doesn’t mean basic
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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