Hyundai i20 1.4 CRDi Blue Drive review

* Super-efficient i20 * CO2 emissions of 98g/km * Price: £13,195...

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Will Nightingale
24 August 2011

Hyundai i20 1.4 CRDi Blue Drive review

What is it?

The i20 Blue Drive is a new ultra-efficient diesel version of Hyundai's Ford Fiesta rival. With CO2 emissions of just 98g/km, it's the cheapest full-size supermini to qualify for exemption from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.

What's it like to drive?

Cars designed to return exceptional fuel economy and CO2 figures often have extra long gearing, which makes them frustrating to drive at low speeds.

This isn't the case with the Blue Drive. It achieves its 76.4mpg through aerodynamic tweaks, low-rolling-resistance tyres and an engine stop-start system so once you're on the move it's no different to drive than a regular diesel i20.

The 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel engine is gutsy enough. Squeeze the accelerator pedal and there's a pause while the turbocharger spins up, but then a healthy surge of power until just above 4000rpm.

Unfortunately, the engine doesn't go about its business quietly. There's a van-like clatter at tickover and a noisy drone as you accelerate up to speed, which stays with you throughout your journey.

Elsewhere the i20 is competent rather than engaging. It grips well, with stable and predictable handling, but it's a shame there isn't more feedback through the steering.

What's it like inside?

From the driver's seat there's little to separate the Blue Drive from any other i20. The dashboard is a victory for function over style, with the controls logical and easy to use.

The steering wheel can be adjusted for reach and rake, and the driver's seat for height.

The i20 has as much room as many of its mainstream rivals, with enough cabin space for four adults to sit comfortably. Five is a squeeze, though, and there's not a lot of rear legroom. The boot is wide and a decent size, and the rear seats split, fold down and tumble forwards.

This new Blue Drive edition might be cheap, but it's surprisingly well equipped. Alloy wheels, air-conditioning, four electric windows, Bluetooth, stability control and six airbags all fitted as standard. There's also a socket for your MP3 player.

Should I buy one?

There are certainly better full-size superminis that fall under the all-important 100g/km CO2 mark. The five-door Ford Fiesta Econetic is the best of the lot, but even in entry-level Edge trim it's priced at £14,495 and that doesn't get you Bluetooth or curtain airbags.

The i20 Blue Drive is cracking value for money, then especially when you factor in Hyundai's five-year Triple Care package, which combines a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, five years of roadside assistance and five years of annual vehicle health checks.

Even considering all this, we think the Fiesta is just about worth the extra outlay. It's sharper to drive, has a stronger engine and is much quieter. Ford dealers are also willing to knock around £900 off itslist price.

Before you buy either, though, make sure you do the mileage to warrant spending upwards of £13,000 on a supermini. For the vast majority of buyers a small petrol engine makes a lot more sense.

Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Edge Econetic
Peugeot 207 HDI 92 Oxygo

What Car? says

Will Nightingale