The second-generation Hyundai i20 has joined the What Car? long-term fleet. We're running it to see how it fares in the ultra-competitive small car class.
The car Hyundai i20 1.4 100 SE 5dr
Run by Aaron Smith, digital reviews editor
Needs to Take the commute in its stride and be able to cope with long motorway stints as well
Run by What Car? since May 2015
The second-generation Hyundai i20 is a relative newcomer to the supermini segment, having only gone on sale in January.
Rivals, such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and new Skoda Fabia (this year’s What Car? Car of the Year), have set the bar incredibly high in this class and, as a result, Hyundai can’t just rely on its competitive pricing and five-year warranties to tempt buyers.
To do that, this all-new i20 must demonstrate that it is sufficiently practical for weekly shopping trips, has a functional interior with a respectable amount of cabin quality, is powered by a flexible engine that is as at home on open roads and motorways as it is pottering around town, and displays the kind of reliability and robustness your average small family expects from its daily runabout.
Our i20 is with us for six months and during that time we expect to do around 8000 miles in it, in a variety of mixed driving. It’s powered by the car maker’s 99bhp 1.4-litre normally aspirated engine, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. When it arrived at What Car?, the motor already had 962 miles under its belt, so was fairly loosened up.
First impressions of the i20 are good. It has a pleasant, hushed engine note and a decent throttle response. The gearshift action is precise and well weighted, with a slick positive throw that works with you, too. In fact, in this early bonding phase, the gearshift quality is one of the standout strengths of the car.
Its CO2 emissions are quoted at 127g/km, which is respectable for a 1.4 petrol in this class. However, with their more modern turbocharged petrol engines, rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa are closer to the 100g/km mark.
As standard, all i20 models have six airbags, remote central locking, daytime running lights, a rear wiper, a trip computer and USB connections. We went for the mid-level SE trim, which adds a lot more kit over the sparsely equipped entry-level S variant. Highlights include air-con, 16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, electric windows, cruise control and Bluetooth.
Our car also has the optional Driver Assist Pack. Today it costs £375 but was thrown in for free as part of the initial offer on launch cars. It brings halogen projector headlights with static cornering function, and a smartphone docking station. This is a useful addition that’s positioned on top of the dashboard and charges your phone while you use it as a sat-nav.
Another option is the Mandarin Orange metallic paint (£495). It’s a controversial colour but I like that it stands out in built-up areas. The car’s design – in particular the neatly proportioned front styling around the daytime running lights – is growing on me, too.
Boot space has already been put to the test during the photoshoot for the pictures you see here. At 326 litres with the seats up and 1042 litres with them folded flat, there was easily enough room for staff snapper Luc Lacey to pack his entire camera gear into the back of the i20 with ease.
The car has made a positive first impression. During the next couple of months its practicality will be challenged further, including helping a housemate up sticks. It will also be subjected to a number of 240-mile return trips from Twickenham to Bristol, where we can see how it copes with being out of its comfort zone on faster, open roads.
Hyundai i20 1.4 100 SE 5dr statistics
Target price Click here for the latest Target Price
Price as tested £13,820
Extras Metallic paint (£495); Driver Assist pack (now £375 but was free as part of launch offer)
Mileage to date 1000 miles
Test fuel economy 44.6mpg
True MPG tbc
Official fuel economy 51.4mpg
CO2/tax liability 127g/km/20%
Contract hire £194
Cost per mile 34p per mile
Insurance group 10
Typical quote £399