The Hyundai i20 is a sensible supermini that competes against cars like the popular Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, as well as the classy Volkswagen Polo. While Hyundais of old were slightly unappealing, the i20 is a joins Hyundai's modern line-up of competent and well built cars and makes a reasonable case for itself in a competitive field. Hyundai's five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is also one of the best available and should mean i20 ownership is a worry-free experience.
The new i20 is slightly larger, inside and out, than the car it replaces. It's available as a five-door hatchback, a sleek, good-looking three-door version called the i20 Coupe and an i20 Active crossover, which has an increased ride height and more rugged looks. Prices for the Coupe and five-door hatchback start at around £11,000, while i20 Active is more expensive, at about £15,000.
There are six engine options available to choose from: three petrols and three diesels. The cheapest route into i20 ownership is the 1.2-litre petrol, which is available with either 74 or 84bhp, returning about 59 and 54mpg fuel economy respectively. While these figures are respectable, both the 1.2-litre petrols need to be worked hard and leave the i20 feeling underpowered – particularly when carrying passengers and their luggage.
Fortunately, Hyundai also offers the i20 with a modern and peppy 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This produces a more useable 100bhp and is capable of returning around 59mpg, while costing just £20 a year in road tax – although it's a bit more expensive to buy than the 1.2-litre.
The three diesel engines available are all economical, with the 1.1-litre Blue Drive i10 managing an impressive 88.3mpg and being road-tax-exempt. This engine is hard to recommend, however, as it gives the i20 a 0-62mph time of 16 seconds, which makes keeping up with traffic hard. The best i20 diesel is the 89bhp 1.4-litre CRDi, which will suit high-mileage drivers better and makes the i20 a more appealing prospect overall.
Whichever engine you choose, the i20 is an easy car to drive. Its light steering makes manoeuvring around town and parking easy, and it's reasonably fun, too – although the Ford Fiesta is better in this area. The i20 is also a good-looking car, with sharp styling and a distinctive, modern front end. The three-door Coupe is particularly pleasing to the eye.
Inside, the i20 disappoints somewhat. The quality of the interior plastics isn’t great and it feels a little dull and underwhelming compared to rivals. While Hyundai offers a touchscreen infotainment system, this is only available on the more expensive trim levels. On a more positive note, the i20 impresses when it comes to space: the cabin is large and airy, and its boot is the biggest of any supermini.
The i20 is available in a variety of trim levels, from the entry-level S to the top-spec Premium SE Nav. Standard equipment is generally good, with all i20s coming with USB connectivity, electric heated wing mirrors, electric front windows and an adjustable steering wheel. We recommend the i20 in SE trim, as this adds modern essentials like alloy wheels and air-conditioning, without increasing the initial purchase price by too much.
In terms of reliability, the previous-generation Hyundai i20 did poorly in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming 199th out of 200 cars; it's hoped this latest model will fare significantly better in 2016. Hyundai as a brand managed a respectable 21st place out of 32 carmakers, beating Volkswagen and Nissan in the process, while the i20's five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty should bring further peace of mind for owners.
The i20 should also be a safe car, coming as standard with six airbags, anti-lock brakes and an electronic stability programme. While its four out of five Euro NCAP safety rating may seem lower than some rivals’ scores, this assessment was carried out under newer, stricter test criteria.