Cheap and cheerful
Competent rather than thrilling, the i20 is a popular town commuter 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.