Hyundai i20 hatchback review
"The Hyundai i20 is more fun than before and lots of tech has been added as standard"
- Good to drive
- Lots of standard tech
- Just one engine
- Some cheap interior materials
- No longer a bargain
The supermini class is one of the most hotly contested in Europe but that's not stopped the Hyundai i20 winning praise in the past. The previous model was always a sensible choice, thanks to its reliability, practicality and low running costs. The new version continues this theme but is more fun to drive too.
That's important in a class that contains not only the Ford Fiesta but the latest Renault Clio, which is also better to drive than before. The latest i20 has been developed with a hot ‘N’ version in mind, and feels firmer as a result.
Just one engine is available for now, so it's a good job it’s likely to be the pick of the range when others arrive anyway. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo has 99bhp, which is peppy enough and feels smooth and refined. It's also fitted with mild-hybrid tech that recoups energy as the car slows down, boosting efficiency by powering the car's systems and bolstering acceleration.
The result is a competitive 54.3mpg fuel consumption figure with 118g/km of CO2, which is also helped by an innovative system that can decouple drive from the gearbox when you come off the throttle, allowing the car to 'coast' with the engine temporarily switched off. If that sounds jarring, know that the i20 has one of the smoothest mild-hybrid setups we've tried so far.
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The i20's interior is a bit of a mixed bag but there’s more good than bad. On the positive side, there's lots of tech and space. Hyundai has fitted a new eight-inch touchscreen to the left of the instrument binnacle and there's a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel. Features like air-conditioning, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also come as standard in the entry-level SE Connect trim. There are almost no options available but Premium trim adds LED lights, folding mirrors, auto wipers, heated front seats and even a heated steering wheel, along with 17-inch alloy wheels. Ultimate gets big-car features like keyless entry, a Bose sound system and contrasting roof colour.
What's slightly disappointing is some of the interior materials, because while the swooshes across the dashboard look distinctive, there's a lot of hard and scratchy plastic lower down in the car. There's more chrome or gloss-black trim in the Fiesta and Clio, bringing a classier feel, and even cheaper plastics tend to be patterned to make them look more attractive.
There are no worries about space in the i20, with enough room in the back for two six-foot adults, which is about as much as you can ask for in a supermini. Its 352-litre boot is also plenty big enough for a car in this class, beating the 311 litres of the Fiesta, even if the space is a little oddly shaped. Hyundai has also fitted the i20 with plenty of safety kit, clearly wanting to better the four-star result of the outgoing i20. Its 'SafetySense' suite of technology includes active safety kit like autonomous emergency braking to help mitigate collisions.