A small family hatchback for those on a budget
You can find the i20 in either three- or five-door form but the more practical five-door is the favourite. This is a budget choice, and none the worse for that. In many ways cars in this sector can offer much better actual value for money than those in more exalted sectors. So is this five-door worth the sensible outlay?
It’s a sign of what’s expected that there is a reasonable engine range, but not one of them can top 100bhp. A 1.2-litre petrol engine has 74bhp or 83bhp, while the diesel choices are either a 1.1-litre with 74bhp or a 1.4-litre with 89bhp. To hit 99bhp you need either the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine or the 1.4-litre petrol – the last being the only one to come with an automatic gearbox.
We’d choose the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, as it feels a bit friskier, although the 1.4-litre diesel is a solid performer. The car’s handling comes into the same category. There is a reasonable amount of body roll and a bit of floating about, but generally the handling is sensible and safe enough. Obviously it’s not exciting.
Ride is the same, comfy enough most of the time, but never feeling under total control. We’d avoid the 17-inch wheel option, so stick with the 16-inch rims for a better ride quality with less road noise. If you choose the smaller diesel you will, however, get quite a bit of engine noise and vibration. The larger diesel is better behaved, as are the petrols, but they’re still not the most refined around.
The driver has a good view around, and the dashboard in front is relatively straightforward. That’s partly because there is no screen. You only get a seven-inch touchscreen on top spec models, and they’re hard to recommend for the money. Premium Nav, the top spec, is not worth it, but Premium, despite being a jump up from SE, does bring you a digital radio and a smartphone docking system as well as other improvements.
The cabin generally feels quite decently put together, with pleasant materials. The colourways are a bit limited, but it’s not a bad cabin to be in. Part of this is the sheer space you get for your money. It’s easy to get in, thanks to the wide-opening doors, and both those in the front have tons of room. So too do those in the rear. You sit in a wide cabin with plenty of room for heads, shoulders, knees and indeed all the parts in between.
You can fold those rear seats down 60/40 which is good as standard in this class. This makes the big boot even bigger, a welcome and practical space for all your luggage. And if you get the mid SE trim you can have an adjustable-height floor as well, to give yourself even more options.
Whether you are a company or private buyer will dictate what engines you ought to go for. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is too inefficient to attract anything but high tax. The 1.0-litre is much better, to the extent that it has lower emissions than the 1.4-litre diesel, so would be the one to go for as a company driver.
Prices are competitive, and you should be able to find deals on dealer deposit or interest free payment. You should be able to score a discount, but it won’t be at Ford levels of knock-down. Hyundai offers three- or five-year fixed servicing plans which take the worry out of keeping your i20 running.
And, of course, there is the very excellent five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, which Hyundai really does seem to honour in the spirit as well as the letter. That’s comforting to have, as is the four-star Euro NCAP score for safety. So there’s a lot of sensible stuff to recommend with the Hyundai i20. It’s not the sort of car to excite motoring journalists, but motoring journalists don’t have to run the cars they enthuse over. If they did, then maybe something like this i20 would be even more popular.