Hyundai i20 Expert Review

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Introduction

When we look at the record that Hyundai has made here in India, we tend to wonder just how the South Korean manufacturer overshot numerous local and international competitors to become the second largest carmaker in India. Well, when you look at a car like the Elite i20, you tend to get a glimpse of the answer. Style, comfort and performance come together in this vehicle, making it quite a likeable package.

Ever since its introduction, the Elite i20 has found favour with Indian buyers. Newer rivals have entered the fray, making things all the more competitive, but Hyundai’s premium hatch continues to get buyers into the brand’s showrooms. However, we’re not here to sing hymns of its praise. We take a close look at the Elite i20 and tell you what’s hot and what’s not.

Pros
  • Infotainment: Updated 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system now comes with Arkamys sound, which enhances the music listening experience
  • While the Hyundai i20 continues to use the same engines as before, mileage is claimed to have improved by 9 per cent
  • The Elite i20 gets rear armrest. A feature which is usually seen on more expensive sedans
  • Rear parking camera comes with dynamic guidelines, that helps the driver when parking in a tight spot
  • The Elite i20 gets Hyundai Auto link. It gives user remote access to the vehicle’s health and monitor driving patterns
Cons
  • Safety: ISOFIX child seat anchors are offered only in the top-spec Asta (O) variant. They are standard in the Baleno
  • Features such as push button start, rear defogger and wiper, and height adjustable seat belts are offered only in the top-end variant
  • The Elite i20 does not get an automatic transmission just yet. All other cars in its segment get one. In fact, the VW Polo is equipped with a dual-clutch automatic transmission!

Stand Out Features

  • 6 airbags- The Elite i20 is the only car in its segment to offer six airbags that makes it one of the safest hatchbacks on sale in India under Rs 10 lakh 

    6 airbags- The Elite i20 is the only car in its segment to offer six airbags that makes it one of the safest hatchbacks on sale in India under Rs 10 lakh 

  • Dual tone Exterior- The Elite i20 gets dual-tone paint option, which definitely makes it stand out from the crowd. However, it’s only available in the Asta variant

    Dual tone Exterior- The Elite i20 gets dual-tone paint option, which definitely makes it stand out from the crowd. However, it’s only available in the Asta variant

  • Rear AC vents-The Elite i20 is the only premium hatchback to offer rear AC vents, which should keep passengers at the back happy  
 

    Rear AC vents-The Elite i20 is the only premium hatchback to offer rear AC vents, which should keep passengers at the back happy    

CarDekho Verdict

The previous Elite i20 had among the most striking designs in the segment - that explains why Hyundai probably didn't tinker much with the styling in the updated model. The Elite i20 2018 is now better equipped with features such as the improved infotainment system and rear armrest, among others. The features list on the Elite i20 facelift not only matches its competition it even surpasses them in some departments. However, the absence of automatic variant at launch is a bit disappointing as the Baleno and the Jazz already have a CVT available with their petrol variants. Further, the new Swift could also eat up the Elite i20’s market share since it is better loaded than ever (offers a few features that even the Baleno misses out on). For instance, the fully loaded top-spec Swift gets a price advantage of around 85K compared to the Elite i20. Does it still make sense to buy the Elite i20? Stay tuned for our detailed review.

"It appears that the updated model will continue to be among the top-selling premium hatchbacks in the country."

Exterior

It would be a pretty bold statement to say that this is the best looking vehicle in its class, but we're sure many others would agree with us. The designers have fortunately veered away from excessive cuts and slashes for the sake of making it look attractive and instead, the Elite gets an understated layout which grabs attention rather than begging for it.

 

Overall, it has a clean and sharp profile that injects a sliver of sportiness into its image. Admittedly, if you removed the Hyundai emblem, we would've easily mistaken it for something made by a European manufacturer.

The face is aggressive thanks to the sleek, swept-back headlamps, with muscular lines down the bonnet complementing the chiseled fascia. The chrome outline on the grille adds just the right amount of flash to the front.

The Elite i20 is a handsome car thanks to the sharply styled front bumper, which also slims down the car’s front. Even the indicator lights hide in plain sight and are well-integrated into the headlamp cluster.  

 

 

The chrome door handles are a bit much, but then again, Indians do love their chrome. The 16-inch alloy wheels that are nothing short of droolworthy and are a design highlight. You won’t feel the need to forage through aftermarket options.

Unlike the Baleno or Jazz, the Elite i20 doesn’t have any MPV-like overtones. The blackened C-pillar slims down the side profile, as does the shoulder-line and door cladding. It’s also interesting to see how the shoulder-line connects the tips of the head and tail lamps.

The rear doesn’t get the same slimming elements as the front, but it isn’t bulbous like the Baleno either. The LED-look tail lights look particularly good at night and perhaps a little black cladding in the rear bumper would improve the look from the back.

Exterior Comparison

Fiat Grande Punto Ford EcoSport Honda WRV Maruti Vitara Brezza
Length (mm) 3989 3999 3999 3995
Width (mm) 1687 1765 1734 1790
Height (mm) 1525 1708 1601 1640
Ground Clearance (mm) 195 200 188 198
Wheel Base (mm) 2510 2520 2555 2500
Kerb Weight (kg) 1105 - 1176 1175

Boot Space Comparison

Fiat Grande Punto Volkswagen Polo Maruti Baleno
Volume 280-litres 280-liters 339-litres

Interior

While the cabin space is par-for-the-course, the upmarket ambience will be quite a deal maker. Premium hatchbacks today offer quality we’d expect in segments above and the Elite’s cabin is a perfect example.

The dashboard is elegantly designed, with uniquely styled AC vents and a centre console with controls that are easy to navigate through. The lower portion of the dashboard is coloured black, while the upper half stretching all the way into the windshield is beige.

We enjoyed the diversity of the atmosphere, and thought it fed off a trend that most car makers are following today here in India. The audio system is positioned at the top of the centre console, right below the central AC vents.

Though it comes as a highlight, the central screen could have been bigger for improved ease of use on the move. The controls for the system are arranged around the display, and a large engine start/stop button is placed by the side of the console. The new edition has been updated with an advanced AVN(Audio Visual Navigation) system that comes along with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Below is the climate control console which hosts a slender screen with blue illumination. At the lower end of the console, you have a small storage area where occupants can keep phones and other spare items. Also incorporated here are dual 12V power sockets, a USB and an AUX port, adding convenience to the passenger's experience.

The 3-spoke steering wheel is draped in leather, adding to the upmarket experience of the cabin.

The instrument cluster comes with an analogue tachometer and a speedometer, and the illuminated dials make it easy to read in any condition.

Door pockets are present in all of the doors, but we have to stress that they're too shallow to hold anything substantial. The entire arrangement is ergonomically sorted and everything falls to hand quite easily.

Armrests and headrests provide added comfort, and the lumbar support is excellent too. The seat upholstery bumps up the premium feel in the cabin, while the contrasting beige and black stitching is a visual treat.

Added bling comes in the form of the metal highlights on the gear knob, parking brake and the inside door handles, showcasing the attention to detail.

Performance

Diesel:

The inner mechanics remain untouched from the old i20. For the diesel version, the car gets the same 1.4-litre U2 CRDi engine, which displaces 1,396cc. The 16-valve engine produces 90PS at 4,000rpm and a peak torque of 220Nm at 1,500rpm - 2,750rpm. We thought the working of the engine was pretty good, with a more linear power delivery and reduced turbo-lag when compared to the previous version. City driving is particularly outstanding with this engine with enough low-end torque on offer. The engine is meshed with a 6-speed manual transmission which we had no trouble operating. As expected, high-gear low-rev combinations work well and while it can hit high speeds with ease, this engine is best suited to cruising.

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Hyundai Elite i20 Maruti Baleno Volkswagen Polo Fiat Punto EVO
Power 88.73bhp@4000rpm 74bhp@4000rpm 88.7bhp@4200rpm -
Torque (Nm) 219.7Nm@1500-2750rpm 190Nm@2000rpm 230Nm@1500-2500rpm -
Engine Displacement (cc) 1396 1248 1498 -
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 180 Kmph 170 Kmph 163 Kmph -
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 11.9 Seconds 12.93 seconds 16.1 Seconds -
Kerb Weight (kg) 1515kg 970kg 1163Kg -
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 22.54kmpl 27.39kmpl 20.14kmpl 20.5kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 58.567656765676574 bhp/ton 76.28865979381445 bhp/ton 76.268271711092 bhp/ton -

Petrol:

As for the petrol variant, it gets a 1.2-litre Kappa VTVT engine which displaces 1,197cc. The power output stands at 83PS at 6,000rpm with a peak torque of 115Nm at 4,000rpm. We couldn't help but get the feeling that the motor was overworked at times, particularly at high speeds. It’s a very smooth engine and works perfectly well in the city, but take it out on the highway and it struggles. Bare in mind that a full passenger load will see you getting quite generous with your throttle inputs and high speed overtakes will need some careful planning and perhaps, a downshift too. Fortunately, the gear lever is nice to use and falls into the gear gates with precision.

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Hyundai Elite i20 Maruti Baleno Volkswagen Polo Fiat Punto EVO
Power 81.83bhp@6000rpm 83.1bhp@6000rpm 74bhp@5400rpm 67.1bhp@6000rpm
Torque (Nm) 114.7Nm@4000rpm 115Nm@4000rpm 110Nm@3750rpm 96Nm@2500rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1197 1197 1198 1172
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 170 Kmph 180 Kmph 165 kmph 155 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 13.2 Seconds 12.36 seconds 14.2 Seconds 14.5 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1066kg 870kg 1053kg 1095kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.6kmpl 21.4kmpl 16.47kmpl 15.8kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 76.76360225140714 bhp/ton 95.51724137931033 bhp/ton 70.27540360873694 bhp/ton 61.27853881278538 bhp/ton

Ride and Handling:

Compared to the earlier version, the Elite i20 is a step up in terms of ride quality and comfort. Taking on potholes and broken roads is easy as long as you stick to low speeds. The suspension is compliant and isn’t bouncy any more. The steering is super-light at city speeds, but while it does weigh up well as you pick up the pace, it’s not enthusiast pleasing as it feels artificial.

Stopping power comes from disc brakes up front and drums at the rear. All-round disc brakes were offered with the old model, but the current setup offers adequate braking strength and panic braking is a drama-free affair.

Safety

We've got to hand it to Hyundai for some impressive safety elements. The downside – some of them are exclusive to higher variants.

Dual airbags come as standard across the entire variant range, and this is definitely a plus point.

Higher variants come equipped with ABS, rear parking sensors, a rear camera, central locking, and an electrochromic rear-view mirror. Aside from this, front passengers avail the benefit of seatbelts that come with pretensioners, a keyless entry system and a rear defogger that comes with a timer. Yes, you get an immobilizer too.

Variants

There are five variants in all - Era, Magna, Sportz, Asta and Asta(O). The entry-grade ‘Era’ comes with central locking, a smart pedal, dual tripmeter, digital clock, low fuel reminder, door ajar warning and adjustable headrests. The Asta and Asta(O) have it all - a fully automatic air conditioning system, a rear wiper and washer, luggage lamp, electrically foldable outside mirrors, a parking sensor display and the auto unlock function. The Asta makes for the best option of course, but the Sportz makes for a great VFM option, if you want a balance of features, safety and affordability.

Hyundai Elite i20 similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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