Cheap and cheer­ful

Com­pe­tent rather than thrilling, the i20 is a pop­u­lar town com­muter car

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - USED CAR -


With our cities be­com­ing more and more clogged with traf­fic it’s not sur­pris­ing that smaller cars, such as the Hyundai i20, are gain­ing favour with buy­ers

Hyundai launched the i20 in 2010, fol­low­ing in the small car tracks of the Ex­cel and Getz, and its pri­mary role was in the city for com­muters.

The range kicked off with the Ac­tive, which came in three and five-door hatch ver­sions, the mid-ranger was the Elite five-door and the top model was the five-door Pre­mium.

For a small car the i20 could ac­com­mo­date four adults in rea­son­able com­fort, though the front pas­sen­ger might cede some legroom.

It also had de­cent boot space for the size of car and split­fold­ing rear seats in­creased the space for car­ry­ing big­ger items.

The stan­dard en­gine was a 1.4-litre four-cylin­der and the Pre­mium had a 1.6-litre job, which could also be op­tioned into the mid-range Elite.

Most buy­ers opted for the 1.4, which per­formed well against most mod­els in the class but was push­ing into the wind against the lead­ers in the seg­ment.

Trans­mis­sion choices were a five-speed man­ual gear­box and four-speed au­to­matic, the lat­ter be­ing the more pop­u­lar.

The man­ual was re­placed by a more user-friendly sixspeeder in 2012 but buy­ers in gen­eral stuck with the auto, even though its wide gear spac­ing wasn’t ter­ri­bly well suited to the small en­gine.

On the road, the i20 han­dled well and the ride was com­fort­able. It was com­pe­tent rather than thrilling.

All mod­els had elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol but the first i20 Ac­tives were rated at four stars by ANCAP as they lacked the side and cur­tain airbags of the five-star Elite and Pre­mium. That changed in Oc­to­ber 2010 when the Ac­tive matched the safety fea­tures of the other mod­els and was up­graded to five stars.


Few own­ers have any­thing but praise for their i20s. There are some com­plaints but those sug­gest build is­sues rather than abid­ing flaws that should put po­ten­tial buy­ers off.

The i20, clearly built as a town com­muter car, can be found want­ing a lit­tle on the open road. Driven with that lim­i­ta­tion in mind, it can still do the job on a long-dis­tance jaunt.

It’s worth check­ing the his­tory of any sec­ond-hand i20 as plenty of them were used as renters. That shouldn’t rule them out com­pletely but you need to check th­ese ex­am­ples more care­fully than one from a pri­vate seller.

Check­ing the car’s ser­vice his­tory is also very im­por­tant. At the cheap end of the mar­ket, some buy­ers are in­clined to push the en­ve­lope when it comes to ser­vice in the hope of sav­ing a few bucks along the way.

It’s not a good strat­egy as skip­ping ser­vices is risk­ing dam­age that could end up be­ing more ex­pen­sive than the missed ser­vices.

Walk away if you sus­pect a car has been ne­glected — there are plenty more out there that have been lov­ingly main­tained by car­ing own­ers. Rec­om­mended ser­vice in­ter­vals are 12 months/15,000km.


Dale Ar­mitage My Ac­tive man­ual drives OK, has a tiny turn­ing cir­cle, the steer­ing is great and it ac­cel­er­ates quite quickly. My only prob­lem has been with the front win­dows com­ing out of their tracks. Tom Al­dred I’ve been driv­ing my i20 for over a year and it is a great lit­tle car. I’m tall and have no trou­ble in the cabin. Karen Camp­bell My hus­band bought me an i20 Ac­tive three­door in 2010. It’s a great lit­tle car, it goes well and has good fuel econ­omy. With one child, the three-door is fine for me. Neville Oban I am dis­ap­pointed with my i20 Ac­tive. The ra­dio vol­ume changes up or down on its own, the clutch is noisy when de­pressed and the air­con­di­tion­ing is ter­ri­ble. Lyn Evans We love our i20. It’s at­trac­tive, com­fort­able and eco­nom­i­cal with the six-speed gear­box. It’s a lit­tle noisy on the high­way but per­fect around town.


Re­li­able lit­tle car ideal for the daily com­mute.

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