A crossover that handles
Adding go-faster tupperware doesn’t normally deliver this much fun, says ALWYN VILJOEN
“Its a seven-seater!” messaged
Wheel’s resident petite driver, Shay Kalik, after driving in the new Hyundai i20 Active.
She had proof too, with all the nephews and nieces piling in for the short drive into the complex.
The nephews begged to play in the boot — not allowed, but the best endorsement a car can get from future clients. They had lots of space back there, with the luggage bay taking 285 litres or 1 001 with the rear seats flat.
On public roads, the i20 Active seats five adults, with three seat belts and head rests in the rear. The driver’s seat adjusts high for the short testers and sinks low for the tall ones.
The 1 368 cc petrol engine makes its peak 74 kW at 6 000 rpm and 133 Nm at 3 500 rpm. Top speed is quoted at 182km/h but we stuck to the speed limits.
The i20 Active is only sold with a six-speed manual, but the slick gear changes and short initial ratios make for easy cruising in town while long high gears make for good consumption.
Power goes to the front, where 16-inch wheels add to the Active’s ground clearance of 170 mm, which gives a decent ride height to help deliver on the promises made by black plastic wheel arch linings, skid plates covering the sensitive under bits front and rear and a roof rack.
The handling on dust is firm enough to be fun, but it is on tar where the Active’s suspension set-up comes into its own, giving the high riding hatch surprising levels of balance, even with a smidgen of lift-off oversteer for the more adventurous.
So, hat tip to the engineers who managed to tune this level of fun into the staid but proven combo of McPhersons and coils up front and a coupled torsion beam with coils at the back.
Inside, red or blue trim on the gear lever console, gearknob and air vents distinguish the i20 Active from its siblings.
The infotainment system links with the minimum of fuss to Android or Apple phones with USB and Aux ports right where you want them, in front in the middle of the console.
Other creature comforts include automatic climate control, electric windows all-round, rear park assist and auto lights that light up the corners in turns.
At R279 900, the i20 Active is a good deal more expensive than its natural rivals in function, if not also form — the Toyota Etios Cross and Renault Sandero. Hyundai’s higher prices include a five-year or 150 000 km warranty, to which is added an additional two-year or 50 000 km powertrain warranty, as well as a three-year or 60 000 km service plan.
But the i20 Active’s surprisingly firm handling puts in a another league and in this case, you get what you pay for.
Hyundai has lifted the i20’s stance, added skidplates and bigger wheels below, a roof rack on top to create a faux cross over with a surprisingly fun ride, as well as a spare wheel in the rear so that one has confidence to explore that gravel road.
Red or blue details — depending on the exterior colour — add to the visual appeal of the i20 Active’s cabin.