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Hyundai i20 First Drive Review

Published On Nov 12, 2020 By Nabeel for Hyundai i20

The Hyundai i20 is pushing the boundaries of what was previously expected from a premium hatchback both in terms of the features offered and the price. How much of it is translated to the final experience?

The first look of the 2020 Hyundai i20 got us excited. But, with its extensive feature list and powertrain options, it was evident that the newborn Hyundai was going to cost a bit more than the competition. The price reveal shocked many potential buyers as the i20 ended up asking for a premium of up to Rs 2 lakh over other potent cars such as the Baleno and Altroz. Even if you keep aside the turbo-petrol variants, the premium still extends up to Rs 1.5 lakh. Is the i20 really that special a hatchback and how much of that translates into everyday usability for you?

Looks

At first glance, the design of the i20 looks quite busy. But as you start noticing the details, it begins to grow on you. The sharp lines on the bonnet, the black and wide grille, and the angular headlamps accentuate the width of the car. In the rearview mirrors, it looks like the i20 is hunting you down. The headlamps are LED projectors with integrated cornering lamps. However, we would have prefered the all-LED setup, like in the European markets. The black fog lamp housing with all the other elements gives it the modern-day Hyundai look. In the turbo variant, you get a turbo badge. 

From the side, it looks edgy. The sharp dual-tone 16 inch wheels, upward-moving door handles, and the chrome beltline add motion to the design. The strong angular bodylines too add drama to this side profile. Look closely and intricate details like the i20 logo in the head and tail lamps, black side skirt and the neatly integrated fuel filler cap show its attention to detail. 

Even in terms of size, the i20 has grown up. It's 10mm longer and 41mm wider. The wheelbase is also up by 10mm. This not only means better road presence but also better interior space. 

Dimensions

New i20

Elite i20

Jazz

Baleno/Glanza

Altroz

Length

3995mm

3985mm

3989mm

3995mm

3990mm

Width

1775mm

1734mm

1694mm

1745mm

1755mm

Height

1505mm

1505mm

1544mm

1510mm

1523mm

Wheelbase

2580mm

2570mm

2530mm

2520mm

2501mm

At the back, the design is a bit complicated. Nevertheless, elements like the back panel, Z-shape tail lamps and the black diffuser will keep things interesting. The chrome belt here, in my personal opinion, should have been avoided. Overall, the i20 has a lot going for it in terms of design. It might not be timeless, but is the most flamboyant hatchback on the road and will surely garner quite a bit of attention.

Interiors

Like the exteriors, the interiors have also traded Euro-car minimalism for sporty design. An all-black dashboard replaces the beige one and that is just the starting point. The dash looks quite minimalistic. The finish is silky smooth in the centre and the connected vents, like the Audis, look well-finished. Another highlight of the cabin is the wraparound design. The door pads seamlessly merge into a curved dash which reminds us of multiple luxury cars. Centrestage, however, is taken by the two large displays: the all-digital instrument cluster and the large 10.25-inch touchscreen. The instrument cluster is lifted from the Hyundai Verna and looks quite sporty. The lack of customisation options in such a display is still a shame, but the readout is clear, leaving little room for complaint. 

If you opt for the turbo-petrol variants, you will additionally get red accents on the steering-mounted buttons, AC vents, door pads, climate control switch, and leather seats with red piping and stitching in the cabin. These make a big difference in the ambience. 

The quality of materials, however, leaves a bit to be desired. The power window switches are not backlit and there is no fabric or padding on the door pads. If the i20 wasn't pushing the boundaries of its price, these niggles could have been overlooked. However, the leather wrap on the steering, all the buttons and the fabric, and the leather on the seats does feel premium. 

Features

Finally, let's talk about its features. This list can be divided into two parts: features expected in the segment and features that give the i20 gives a special touch. From the expected list, you have keyless entry with push-button start, steering-mounted controls, cruise control, automatic climate controls, reversing camera, electric folding and adjustable ORVMs with auto fold, height-adjustable driver seat, rear wiper and washer, front centre sliding armrest, cooled glovebox, rear AC vents, rear seat armrest, and a rear USB charger. 

Then come the features that give the i20 a premium quotient. The steering is both tilt and telescopic adjustable, you get puddle lamps on ORVMs, tyre pressure monitoring system, blue ambient lighting, wireless phone charger with cooling, air purifier, and a large sunroof. The blue ambient lights are not only present in the footwell, but also in the door pockets and inside door handles, adding to the premium feel. Even the infotainment is one of the best in class. The 10.25-inch touchscreen, which has been borrowed from the Creta, is fluent to use. The crisp display gets Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and 50 bluelink connected car features. Then comes the Bose 7-speaker sound system with an amplifier and a subwoofer in the boot which produces an excellent sound output. This is where the i20 really feels like it commands its premium. Even safety features are top notch. It packs six airbags, TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System), ABS with EBD, stability control and hill start assist. 

While this list sounds exhaustive, the bottom variants see some strange omissions. The rear headrests, armrest and even ISOFIX mounts are only present in the top variant. Also, I don't know why an auto day/night mirror has been avoided. For a detailed variant breakdown, stay tuned for our variants explained video. 

Rear seat

If you are in the market for a family hatchback, the i20 looks tempting. The increased wheelbase and width come into play here and open up the cabin for a more spacious experience. Seating three at the back is now an option as the door pads are well scoped out and the transmission tunnel is small. There is ample leg and knee room for the side passengers, enough for two 6-footers to sit behind each other. Headroom feels good with a scooped-out roof. Rear backrest is slightly on the erect side, and a bit more recline would have made the seats more comfortable. Underthigh support too could have benefited from a bit more angled seat base. Overall, the rear seats are very spacious for the family, if not the most comfortable. The firmer cushion of the seats and the rear centre armrest does help things along the way on longer journeys. 

Practicality

In terms of storage options, the cabin gets two cup holders, a centre console storage with the wireless charging pad, and some space under the front armrest. All four doors can accommodate 1-litre bottles and hold some other articles as well. There is a phone holder below the rear AC vents as well. A missed opportunity here is that the rear armrest has no cup holders, one of the centre cup holders is occupied by the air purifier, and the wireless charger tray is bang in the middle of the storage pad. If it was to the side, the leftover space could have been used to store other items. The glove box size too could have been better. 

The boot space of 311-litres is nothing to boast about. Plus, there is no 60:40 split as well. However, it easily takes in two small suitcases with overnight bags. Enough for the weekend family trip. Boot light adds to the convenience at night. 

Engine and Performance

The i20 is the only car in the segment to offer three powertrains, soon to be joined by the Altroz. What’s special about the options is that each one caters to a specific need and more importantly, each one fulfils the role well. 

Engine

1.2 litre petrol, 4 cylinder

1.0 litre turbo petrol, 3 cylinder

1.5 litre diesel, 4 cylinder

Transmission

5-speed manual / CVT

6-speed iMT / 7-speed DCT

6-speed manual

Power

83PS/88PS (MT/CVT)

120PS

100PS

Torque

114Nm

172Nm

240Nm

Claimed Fuel Efficiency

21kmpl/19.65kmpl (MT/CVT)

20kmpl/20.28kmpl (iMT/DCT)

25kmpl

The 1.5-litre diesel is super refined. After the ignition, barely any vibrations creep into the cabin. Low-down torque of the engine also helps you accelerate in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and it's easy to remain in the second and third gear in the city. But the real power comes in close to 2000rpm, where this diesel starts to feel punchy. It revs almost like a petrol till 4500rpm and won't disappoint you in some spirited driving. The clutch here is also light and with short and precise throes of the 6-speed manual, this means a hassle-free drive in the city. This nature also helps it as a highway cruiser. At 100kmph, the rpm is ticking just below 2000 and it remains super refined and relaxed. The claimed efficiency of 25kmpl will attract a lot of people towards this diesel.

Speaking of spirited driving, the i20 is also offering you a 120PS turbo-petrol engine. This is the same engine from the Venue but with slightly revised higher gearing. Refinement levels are impressive, however, the Polo’s 3 pot turbo motor feels more relaxed. This engine is quick to rev and offers impressive acceleration. City driveability is good with the DCT keeping you in the turbo range, so you don't struggle for power. Gear shifts are seamless and barely noticeable in day-to-day driving. However, when racing against the clock, the shifts feel a bit laidback. Overall, this engine needs to be reserved for someone looking for a particularly sporty drivetrain. Otherwise, paying that premium will pinch. This is also true because of its slightly stiffer suspension setup, which we will discuss in a later section.

The most important mill here has to be the 1.2-litre petrol. This is an improved version of the older 1.2-litre engine and does help with refinement. However, power remains a bit scarce. It does its city duties fairly well and you won't have a reason to complain while commuting, but it starts to feel a little stressed on the highways or when you are looking to extract all the horsepower out of it. With the CVT, it makes 5PS more (88PS vs 83PS) as compared to the manual transmission, and that makes it our pick for the city duties. If you are looking for a relaxed drive in the city and also a hatch which offers value for money, the 1.2-litre CVT variants are really well placed. 

Ride and handling

A key role of a premium hatchback is to offer good ride comfort. The i20, while does well on that count, doesn't quite excel. The diesel and the naturally aspirated petrol variants get the standard suspension setup, which is comfortable, even if slightly firm for daily use. It cushions the passengers well over speed breakers and potholes, and also keeps the harshness away. It is quite silent as well, and hence, offers a peaceful experience. However, it doesn't feel as premium as the Verna did in terms of its damping. And for a car asking Venue money, a more sophisticated experience would have been better. Even on the highway, better damping would have made it more stable at higher speeds.

The turbo variants, however, get a stiffer suspension setup. But, like mentioned, it is not a well damped or plush setup and you end up feeling a lot of imperfections of the road. The harshness of the potholes and speed breakers now makes its way into the cabin and especially to the rear seat passengers. Overall, for a city car, you'd be much happier with the regular one. 

This suspension has been tuned to aid the handling of the turbo variants, which it does. While cornering, the body roll in the turbo variants remains in check and the car feels better planted through corners. Not that the diesel one feels out of place, but there is a bit more confidence in the stiffer setup. The i20 feels light and agile and that is down to its lightweight. This means quick direction changes happen effortlessly and the light steering aids to that nature. However, there is still some vagueness when it comes to feedback which holds you back from a spritted driving experience. Then come the brakes. The initial bite is low and even panic braking feels a bit disconnected. Overall, the i20 turbo feels more like a fast hatchback than a fun hot hatch. 

Verdict

The i20 now feels like a grown up hatchback and not just in terms of the features, space and looks, but also the powertrains on offer. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is super refined and feels like the best all-rounder in the lineup. It does city duties well and proves to be an able highway cruiser. The 1.2-litre petrol CVT feels more apt for the city. Its refinement and power delivery won't let you complain while commuting, but leave a bit to be desired on the highways. The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is exclusively for people who are looking for the thrill of a sporty engine and are ready to pay the premium for it. And while this engine is plenty fast, the driving manners of the i20 pull it back from being an outright fun enthusiast car. 

Prices (Ex-Showroom)

Magna

Sportz

Asta

Asta (O)

1.2 Petrol MT

Rs 6.80 lakh

Rs 7.60 lakh

Rs 8.70 lakh

Rs 9.20 lakh

1.2 Petrol CVT

-

Rs 8.60 lakh

Rs 9.70 lakh

-

1.0 Turbo iMT

-

Rs 8.80 lakh

Rs 9.90 lakh

-

1.0 Turbo DCT

-

-

Rs 10.67 lakh

Rs 11.18 lakh

1.5 Diesel MT

Rs 8.20 lakh

Rs 9 lakh

-

Rs 10.60 lakh

All of this, of course, comes at a premium price. To understand the price, you need to forget that it is a hatchback. You will need to focus on the upmarket experience it delivers with the features, space, drivetrains and overall cabin ambience. In fact, from the inside, it delivers a sedan-like experience and in that regard, the i20 deserves its premium. 

The 2020 Hyundai i20 is taking the premium hatchback space a step forward. Question is, are you willing to take that step with it?

Hyundai i20

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
Magna Diesel (Diesel)Rs. 8.19 Lakh*
Sportz Diesel (Diesel)Rs. 8.99 Lakh*
Sportz Diesel DT (Diesel)Rs. 9.14 Lakh*
Asta Opt Diesel (Diesel)Rs. 10.59 Lakh*
Asta Opt Diesel DT (Diesel)Rs. 10.74 Lakh*
Magna (Petrol)Rs. 6.79 Lakh*
Sportz (Petrol)Rs. 7.59 Lakh*
Sportz DT (Petrol)Rs. 7.74 Lakh*
Sportz IVT (Petrol)Rs. 8.59 Lakh*
Asta (Petrol)Rs. 8.69 Lakh*
Sportz IVT DT (Petrol)Rs. 8.74 Lakh*
Sportz Turbo iMT (Petrol)Rs. 8.79 Lakh*
Asta DT (Petrol)Rs. 8.84 Lakh*
Sportz Turbo iMT DT (Petrol)Rs. 8.94 Lakh*
Asta Opt (Petrol)Rs. 9.19 Lakh*
Asta Opt DT (Petrol)Rs. 9.34 Lakh*
Asta IVT (Petrol)Rs. 9.69 Lakh*
Asta IVT DT (Petrol)Rs. 9.84 Lakh*
Asta Turbo iMT (Petrol)Rs. 9.89 Lakh*
Asta Turbo iMT DT (Petrol)Rs. 10.04 Lakh*
Asta Turbo DCT (Petrol)Rs. 10.66 Lakh*
Asta Turbo DCT DT (Petrol)Rs. 10.81 Lakh*
Asta Opt Turbo DCT (Petrol)Rs. 11.17 Lakh*
Asta Opt Turbo DCT DT (Petrol)Rs. 11.32 Lakh*

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