Hyundai i20 hatchback - Interior & comfort
There are serious tech upgrades inside but some cheap-looking materials disappoint
The interior design of the i20 has been completely overhauled compared to the old model, with a look inspired by executive cars that includes a large screen perched above the dashboard, adjacent to the instrument binnacle. There's a serious amount of kit, and everything feels well screwed together, but material quality appears lacking compared with the Ford Fiesta and especially the Renault Clio - our current class favourite.
Hyundai i20 dashboard
Get behind the wheel, and the i20 feels modern and functional, with two 10.25-inch screens on higher trims - one above the dashboard and one inside the instrument cluster. Both are mounted near the base of the windscreen, making them easy to check at a glance. The main screen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the instruments change colour if you change the car's driving mode.
The driving dials are much more configurable than the ones in the Ford Fiesta, not to mention super-crisp. It’s clear that some of the features have filtered down from Hyundai’s bigger and more expensive cars. The screen shows the wiper and light settings when you change them, which means you’re never unsure if your lights are on, and the top-spec car even reminds you not to leave occupants in the rear seat when you get out.
There are rotary dials for the climate control, which are easy and fast to use, and the dashboard has accents that extend outwards from the air vents. The deep slashes that extend across the door inserts and along the dash serve as a distinctive design flourish for the i20 and help the interior stand out in a way that Hyundai cabins of old routinely failed to do. The interior has a more interesting look as a result but it's one that may not be to everyone's taste.
The only major disappointment is the look and feel of some materials; the dashboard and lower sections of the interior are swathed in a selection of black and grey plastics that aren’t very tactile. In the Fiesta and Clio, there are grains and patterns, and some chrome and gloss-black finishes that make those cars feel more upmarket than the i20.
These cheap materials are hidden somewhat on models with black plastic; they’re very noticeable if you choose a model with the grey trim. Buyers of the top-spec Ultimate trim may have expected better materials given the price. Additionally, we'd like a little extra adjustment in the seats.
Even the entry-level SE Connect trim boasts a reasonable level of equipment but costing from around £19,000 it's no bargain basement supermini - a Renault Clio in Iconic trim costs much less. An eight-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital instrument panel is standard, however (the Iconic model of the Clio has analogue gauges), and there’s cruise control, air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Hyundai briefly offered a cheaper Element model for £16,500, which just undercut the Trend version of the Ford Fiesta. It has alloy wheels, split-folding rear seats, auto headlights, rear parking sensors, air conditioning and the smartphone connectivity mentioned above but misses out on digital dials, high-beam assist and cruise control, not to mention a host of safety features that should be fitted. Choose this model and you’ll go without autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, driver attention alert and lane-keeping assistance, which isn’t good news.
Step up to Premium (costing around £2,200 extra over the SE Connect) and upgrades include LED headlights and rear lights, folding door mirrors, automatic wipers, climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. It's an impressive haul; a heated steering wheel is still a costly extra in some executive cars.
The range-topping Ultimate trim (for around £1,500 more) looks more stylish thanks to a contrasting roof, while added tech includes keyless entry and wireless smartphone charging. Alternatively the N Line offers a more sporty look and feel for roughly the same cost, so instead of the contrasting roof and pearlescent paint you get a bespoke 17-inch alloys, a black cascading grille with side skirts and redesigned bumpers, as well as dual exhaust tailpipes and a triangular rear foglamp. Inside the N Line features sports seats, a leather trimmed wheel and gear knob, metal pedals and racy red trim details. Equipment is otherwise similar to the Ultimate grade.
The large screen in the i20 is certainly impressive and the large graphics for the mapping and other screens are clear for the most part. Some of the touchscreen 'buttons' are quite small, however, and difficult to prod quickly when driving. We also think that the items in the home screen menus could be colour coded to make them stand out more at a glance.
Hyundai tends to shy away from offering lots of options, instead nudging customers towards the trim level with all the equipment they'll need. One of the few things you can splash out on is a metallic or pearlescent paint finish, costing £550. This is a similar price to most rivals, but the SEAT Ibiza does come with free metallic paint.