A cross­over that han­dles

Adding go-faster tup­per­ware doesn’t nor­mally de­liver this much fun, says AL­WYN VILJOEN

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - • al­wyn.viljoen@wit­ness.co.za

“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.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

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.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Red or blue de­tails — de­pend­ing on the ex­te­rior colour — add to the vis­ual ap­peal of the i20 Ac­tive’s cabin.

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