"The Hyundai i20 is a good value for money supermini with generous equipment, low running costs and a comfortable, if unexciting, drive."
The Hyundai i20 hasn’t won the same accolades as the i10 and i30 – and is less common on the roads than its siblings, too – but it's still a very big seller. And the i20 is still a great choice for anyone looking for a small-to-medium-sized supermini. It's a key competitor for the Nissan Micra, Suzuki Swift and Ford Fiesta. A 2012 refresh added some extra flair that had previously been missing, with both its drive and style much improved. It's still a little drab inside, choosing practicality over style by using some harder plastics to build its nevertheless clear and logically laid out controls. The Hyundai i20 is available in four main specifications – entry-level Classic, mid-range Active, fuel-efficient Blue and Active Blue, and top-of-the-range Style. The i20 truly is great value compared to the updated Ford Fiesta, and you will find that there are lots of decent deals out there.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
We’d recommend going for the 1.1-litre CRDi Blue diesel, which can return 88.3mpg in combined fuel economy and produces CO2 emissions of only 84g/km when combined with the six-speed manual gearbox, so no annual road tax. However, even the 1.4-litre CRDi diesel can return a strong 76mpg in economy, and still emits a tax-free 96g/km of CO2. Further down the range, the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol returns 58mpg and emits 114g/km, and the 1.4-litre petrol manages 47mpg and 140g/km, which is still pretty good. Insurance groups range from eight to 12, so inexpensive premiums for all models, while the i20 also comes with a five-year warranty as standard across the range.
Interior & comfort
The i20 is very comfortable to ride in thanks to its soft suspension, which easily irons out any major bumps and potholes. However, that also results in some very noticeable body roll when driving through corners that makes winding roads a bit tiresome for passengers. If your priority is a comfortable city runabout, it's pretty perfect. It is very quiet inside, with little wind or road noise disturbing the calm atmosphere, even when driving at motorway speeds. However, one major issue is the seats, which are a bit hard and don’t offer sufficient back support. Legroom is also limited for any adult passengers in the back, but the i20 can still fit four adults inside without too much discomfort.
Practicality & boot space
The i20 boasts a lot of interior space for a supermini, thanks to its class-leading width and length. And that goes for both the three-door and five-door models. Three adults will fit in the back without becoming too uncomfortable. ISOFIX child seat anchor points are also fitted as standard, making it a more appealing buy for families. The 295-litre boot is bigger than either the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta, which expands to an impressive 1,060 litres when the standard-fit 60:40 split-fold seats are folded down flat. The driving position is good, and the steering wheel can be adjusted for reach and height. It also has a tight turning circle, which makes it easy to get the i20 into tight parking spaces on the first try. There's lots of handy storage inside the car, with an option to add a nifty cooled glove compartment. However, there aren’t any door pockets for passengers in the back of the car.
Reliability & safety
Hyundai has under-performed in this category recently, with a seven-place slide down the manufacturer rankings in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. That saw it slip from an impressive seventh in Driver Power 2012 to 14th out of 32 in the 2013 results, although it still picked up strong marks for reliability, low running costs and its equipment levels. The i20 couldn’t crack the top 100 cars in 2013, placing 111th compared to its 59th place in 2012. It has clearly suffered by using cheap-looking, hard plastics inside the car, which may be strong enough to take whatever is thrown at them but aren’t attractive to look at or touch. There is a lot of support from Hyundai's dealer network, which does sweeten the deal somewhat, and all cars come with a generous five year warranty, too. The i20 also secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety test, which is notable for a smaller car. The i20 comes fitted with six airbags, electronic stability control (ESP) and active head restraints as standard in every model. You also get the same great five-year warranty that's offered across the Hyundai range, so you won’t have to worry much about unexpected bills during your ownership of the car.
Engines, drive & performance
Some home truths – the i20's drive is just not as good as either the Suzuki Swift or Ford Fiesta. The steering is very light, which results in a sense of floating over the road – however, the flip side of that is it being very easy to drive around town. A new and much more economical engine was added to the i20 range in 2012, that gives it more of an efficient edge – the 74bhp 1.1-litre CRDi diesel Blue can return 88.3mpg and emits only 84g/km of CO2, which makes it one of the most efficient non-electric cars you can buy in the UK. The 1.1-litre diesel is also really efficient, but it also under-performs – taking 15.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, which requires some extra bravery when pulling out at busy junctions. For the best balance, we’d recommend the 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel because it can return 76.3mpg and emits a road-tax-free 96g/km, but also accelerates from 0-62mph in a much more desirable 13.5 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
As is common for Hyundai, the i20 is loaded with equipment and accessories. The base-spec Classic comes fitted with air-conditioning, six airbags, electric windows and an MP3 player-compatible CD stereo as standard. You lose the air-conditioning in the eco-friendly Blue model in favour of a stop-start system and more fuel-efficient tyres. The Active spec adds 15-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity, while Comfort models have 15-inch alloy wheels, an iPod connection, electric heated folding mirrors and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Lastly, the top-spec Style gets 16-inch alloys, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, climate control and front fog lights, plus a leather steering wheel and gearlever. That's a lot for your money, especially when you consider how competitively priced the i20 is compared to its main rivals, such as the Ford Fiesta, with each model actually being about £1,000 cheaper that the same-level Fiesta. Resale values in the used car market are also fairly strong, with Hyundai's brand growing in reputation and more and more buyers looking for small, economical cars.