Feature Rich with Great Comfort

By for Hyundai Elite i20 2016-11-15 19:24:56.0
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5 ⁄ 5
  • Appearance
  • Performance
  • Comfort
  • Value For Money
  • Fuel Economy
  • Overall Satisfaction

N its relentless pursuit of market-share, Hyundai's product onslaught continues. Over the last 3 years, the company has launched 8 new cars, namely the Eon, Grand i10, Xcent, Verna, Elantra, Santa Fe, Sonata and now, the i20. The Korean giant knows how to keep its product range updated.

The 2nd-generation i20 makes its global debut in India, thereby highlighting the importance of our market for this car. The Elite i20 is Hyundai's 5th hatchback currently on sale. In what is a significant development, it will no longer be exported from India (discussion link (Hyundai stops exporting cars from India to Europe)). Hyundai says that European exports have been stopped so that the Chennai plant can concentrate on production for the local market. Turkey will now supply i20s to Europe. The international i20 differs from the India-spec car in length (50 mm longer), boot size (41 liters more) and richer equipment levels. Although the European i20 is longer, its wheelbase is identical to the Indian model. Compare pictures of the two and you'll notice that Hyundai India has greatly trimmed the bumpers, to bring the i20 within the sub-4 meter tax bracket of small cars.

The i20's India story is quite an interesting one. Launched in December 2008, Hyundai's internal sales projection was ~1,000 units a month. The domestic output didn't really matter at the time, since Hyundai had primarily set up the production line for exports to Europe. In fact, i20 exports began before the car's Indian launch, and the company was already shipping 6,000 - 7,000 units a month by early 2009. The market's initial response exceeded the company's modest targets. Still, sales performance was nowhere close to the level seen in the 2010 - 2013 period, because the i20 was perceived as an expensive hatchback at the time. Then, the Jazz came home! Honda adopted a ridiculous pricing strategy for the Jazz, effectively killing the product within 60 seconds of launch. Overnight, the i20 became a value-for-money proposition and its sales shot through the roof. In 2012 & 2013, the i20's average monthly tally was 7,100 and 6,000 respectively. To put things in perspective, that's more than what the entire VW group (VW, Skoda, Audi) has been managing in the recent past.

It's important to note that Hyundai's first big hatch for India - the boring Getz - was a failure. But it's the i20 that actually went on to create the premium hatchback segment. Hyundai doesn't want to mess with the formula, thus the 2nd-generation i20 is an improvement of the same overall package. It's not revolutionary at all. The company's attempt at retaining an identical strategy also reflects in the pricing; the Elite i20 is only slightly more expensive than the car it replaces. The price hike of the entry-level petrol & diesel variants is merely Rs. 8,000 & 15,000 respectively.

oday, in a very narrow price band, Hyundai's showrooms have the Grand i10 hatchback, Xcent compact sedan and i20 hatchback. There's a lot of price overlap between the different variants of these 3 cars. Hyundai & Maruti - both - acknowledge the product overlap in their model range, and honestly don't care as long as the customer remains in the same showroom. Considering the almost identical pricing of the Xcent & i20, which should you choose? Simply put, the i20. Other than 122 liters of boot space, the Xcent doesn't hold a single advantage over the Elite i20. The premium hatchback trumps the compact sedan in every which way. Unless you absolutely need that additional boot space, the new i20 should be your pick.

The styling is decidedly European in nature. Gone is the curvy design of the 1st-gen model, the Elite i20 is edgy & aggressive. It's more mature as well; the fluidic theme is nowhere as flashy as what we've seen on the Verna or Elantra. The i20's looks are universally appealing, this is important for a mass market product. The face is dominated by the large hexagonal radiator grille & swept-back headlamps. What folks will miss though are the outgoing i20's daytime running lights. The side profile is fairly sporty, thanks to the sloping roof line, long bonnet and tight rear. Those wide tail-lamps look striking, albeit the rear is otherwise rather plain Jane. The new i20's overall length is actually 10 mm shorter, but it doesn't look it. Despite the shorter length, the wheelbase has increased. Hyundai claims this is the largest wheelbase of any hatchback, compact sedan or compact SUV (Verito Vibe & Quanto aside). The car is wide and it does have a more planted stance than the older i20. The fatter 195 mm tyres & 16" rims help too (the only other hatch with 16" rims is the Punto Evo Sport).

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