Hyundai i20 hatchback review
"Sporty new N Line trim adds to this well-equipped, stylish and great-driving supermini’s appeal"
- 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 was developed with a hot ‘N’ version in mind, and feels firmer as a result.
Just three engine options are available for now, kicking off with the entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo making 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 55.4mpg fuel consumption figure with 115g/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.
The second engine option is a 118bhp version of the same three-cylinder unit that’s fitted exclusively to the sporty N Line trim grade and has exhaust that’s been tuned for a more characterful sound. The i20 N gets a 201bhp four-cylinder 1.6 and is a hot hatch to rival the Fiesta ST.
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.
As well as having exclusive use of the more powerful 118bhp three-cylinder engine, the sporty new N Line model gets its own 17-inch alloy wheel design, twin exhaust pipes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sporty seats, plus a special black interior trim with red detailing, keyless entry and a wireless charging pad. The most expensive Ultimate trim adds a Bose sound system and contrasting roof colour but is only available with the 99bhp version of the engine.
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.