“Practical, stylish, and highly reliable, the ix20 offers spacious and flexible family transport at a very competitive price.”
When it arrived in 2010, the Hyundai ix20 was a stylish new addition to the mini-MPV segment, offering a generous level of equipment and accessories to create a practical small car that was hard to fault. While the shine has tarnished a little over the past few years as other superminis and mini-MPVs have raised the bar around it, build quality remains on a par with Japanese rivals like the Toyota Verso and Nissan Note. However, the ix20 now feels a lot more average – not bad, just not at the top of the class. There's enough space inside to comfortably sit five, plus a sliding rear bench and big boot that still makes it a good choice for busy families. Quiet and comfortable on the motorway, the ix20 is undeniably easy to drive. Hyundai's unlimited five-year warranty also makes ownership a hassle-free experience. The ix20 comes in three main specifications – entry-level Classic, mid-range Active and top-of-the-range Style.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The most efficient engine on offer in the ix20 is the 1.6-litre CRDi Active Blue Drive, which claims to return 64.2mpg in fuel economy and emit 117g/km in CO2. While no model offers CO2 emissions below the magic tax-free 100g/km mark, even the most expensive engine to run, the 1.6-litre petrol automatic, returns 43.6mpg and emits 154g/km, costing £155 a year in road tax. So overall, it proves quite cheap to run on a daily basis.
Interior & comfort
The ix20 has a soft suspension set-up that gives a comfortable ride that easily smoothes out over any major bumps or pothole jolts without disturbing any of the car's occupants. The 1.4 CRDi diesel can get quite noisy and sound a bit harsh if you rev the car too hard, but the sixth gear keeps revs low on the motorway, which means it's not really a big issue. Wind and tyre noise are kept to a low minimum, while the comfortable-but-supportive seats make finding the right driving position fairly straightforward. None of this is bad, so why the 2.5 stars? Well, the ix20 is hardly in a luxury car sector, but it's simply not as comfortable as some of its rivals.
Practicality & boot space
The ix20 offers an above-class-average 440 litres of boot space with the back seats in place. What's more, once you fold the standard-fit split-folding rear seats down flat, the boot expands to a very impressive 1,486 litres – which is beaten by the Vauxhall Meriva but is still more storage capacity than many small vans of larger dimensions. The wide, flat loading area also makes loading big and bulky items relatively easy, and the back seats slide independently of each other, which allows you to adjust the amount of space in the back depending on the height of your rear passengers. The glove compartment is nice and big, plus there are plenty of storage cubbies dotted around the dashboard, and there are storage bins underneath seats. The boot can also be divided into two with by a panel insert, and the wide-opening doors make getting in and out a doddle.
Reliability & safety
The ix20 doesn’t figure in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but Hyundai itself has taken a bit of a tumble in the manufacturers rankings. It fell from a 2012 position at seventh to a mid-table 14th in 2013. However, it's worth pointing out that most of that drop is accounted for by performance, ride quality and handling, while Hyundais all still did well for build quality and reliability. The neat interior is well built and sturdy, and all the materials used all of a reassuringly high quality, so you should get some peace of mind that it will stand up to any daily wear and tear that you can chuck at it. Some of the plastics can look and feel a bit cheap on close examination but they are the exceptions in an overall impressive interior. In terms of safety, the ix20 was awarded the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, performing well for both adult and child protection. Electronic stability control is fitted as standard to all models, as are anti-lock brakes, traction control, twin front airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points. There is also a hill-start assist that gently applies the brakes when the car is stopped on an incline, designed to prevent the car from rolling back.
Engines, drive & performance
You get to choose from four engines in the ix20 – a 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre diesel. Both of the petrol and diesel 1.4-litre engines produce 89bhp, but the petrol is more suited to nipping round town, because the diesel (paired with a six-speed gearbox) is better for making longer journeys but has to be worked quite hard to make the most out of its engine and gearbox. The 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol is only available with a four-speed automatic gearbox, so it just can’t match the class-leading fuel economy of the smaller engines on offer. When driving on some of the UK's winding roads, the ix20 has plenty of grip and goes through corners well, with only a bit of body roll, but it simply isn’t nearly as good as some of its key rivals. The steering is light, making it nice and easy to manoeuvre, but isn’t as direct or as precise as rivals such as the Nissan Note, and it feels like a car of much bigger dimensions when you try to park it. The high driving position does provide good visibility, but thick A-pillars at the front create some troubling blind spots. Overall, with even the fastest engine going from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds, the ix20 is now decidedly average.
Price, value for money & options
If you’re in the market for a mini-MPV, then the ix20 is one of the best-value cars in the UK. It undercuts many of its rivals, including the Vauxhall Meriva, and offers more equipment and accessories as standard equipment across the whole range. Even the entry-level Classic comes fitted with air-conditioning and traction control. Fork out a further £1,100 for the mid-range Active and you can add 16-inch alloys, a leather steering wheel, all-electric windows, reversing sensors and Bluetooth connectivity to the list. Meanwhile, top-of-the-range Style models also get a panoramic glass sunroof, front fog lights and folding door mirrors. With the diesel and petrol engines offering similar levels of performance, you do have to pay a £1,400 premium for the more efficient 1.4-litre CRDI. Hyundai does put its money where its mouth is, however, by offering a five-year warranty with breakdown recovery included. If you want more peace of mind, its good value five-year care package is also available, which adds a free annual health check. Thanks to the great warranty, resale values in the used car market should also be strong.