Hyundai i20 Hatchback full 9 point review
Most small cars will spend a lot of time in town, but the petrol i20s feel fairly slow even at such low speeds. Push the accelerator and they feel breathless and wheezy, and there’s no gutsy turbocharged version, unlike in the Ford Fiesta or VW Polo. They feel pretty gutless at motorway speeds, too. The diesel engines are better, but none of them feels as quick or flexible as the motors available in some rivals.
Ride & Handling
The suspension deals well with speed bumps and long undulations, but sharp-edged ridges or rough surfaces unsettle the car at higher speeds, with noticeable thuds entering the cabin. The i20 handles pretty well, although it’s not as much fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta, partly because its steering is rather slow and vague.
At low speeds, the high-powered 1.2 and the 1.4-litre petrol engines are smooth and impressively quiet, but both become strained and intrusive at higher revs. The 1.1-litre diesel is much less civilised, sending an unwelcome buzz through the pedals and generating a noisy three-cylinder warble when worked hard. There’s some wind and road noise at motorway speeds, but no more than is normal for this class of car, and the manual gearboxes are pretty slick.
Buying & Owning
The i20 is cheaper than rivals, but not by as much as you may think. The mid-spec SE version is the best value, and undercuts the equivalent Ford Fiesta or VW Polo by a decent amount. Running costs aren’t that competitive, though; the petrol engines have comparatively high CO2 emissions, which pushes up road tax and company car tax bills. Competitive pre-paid servicing packages are available to help keep costs down, however.
Quality & Reliability
While the i20 feels fairly plush inside, it’s not as nicely finished as a VW Polo or Skoda Fabia, with fairly hard plastics at knee level and some odd textures. You should have few concerns about reliability, though; the i20 comes with a five-year warranty and the brand scored well for reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
You get plenty of safety kit for your money – every i20 comes with six airbags, stability control, a tyre pressure-monitoring system and hill start assist. Mid-range SE versions and above also have a lane departure warning system and a speed limiter, but they do without automatic emergency braking, which is available on several rivals. Security experts Thatcham rated the i20 as only average for security, with three out of five stars for theft from the car.
Behind The Wheel
Finding a sound driving position isn’t hard; the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, and a few tweaks of the levers on the side of the seat should be all most drivers need to get comfortable. The seat is supportive, too, and the dashboard and its buttons are easy to fathom. You have to go for a mid-spec version to get audio controls on the steering wheel and leather trim details, however.
Space & Practicality
This is where the i20 excels. There’s loads of space front and rear, so four adults will fit in total comfort – and even five won’t feel too squeezed. The big boot is a decent shape, and it comes with a handy adjustable-height floor to divide to space on SE versions and above.
We’d steer clear of the sparsely equipped cheaper models and go for mid-level SE trim. This has almost everything you need, including air-con, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, cruise control and four electric windows. Premium adds climate control and automatic lights and wipers, while Premium SE has a sunroof, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Infotainment is the one area where the i20 trails some rivals; there’s no touch-screen system available, for example.