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The Top Gear car review: Hyundai i20

£10,125£17,645
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Up with supermini sector front-runners in most areas, VW-like interior quality

Against: 

So-so engines, not as cheap as it was
Worthy supermini that majors on ease of use and grown-up design. Fun is in short order though.

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Our choice

Hyundai

1.4 Active 5dr

£12,140
N/A
54mpg
11.60s
99bhp
122g/km

What we say: 

Impressive follow-up to the mediocre original. The all-new i20 may have the competition worried

What is it?

It’s Hyundai’s second-generation i20. The previous model was a decidedly average car that surfed into the marketplace on a wave of scrappage scheme trade-ins. Its replacement is a far more style and quality-led product, and while it still represents decent value for money, saving cash is no longer its number one priority. This is Hyundai getting serious about the supermini sector.

Driving

Comfort and ease-of-use are the key factors here. The ride is soft (though it’s occasionally perturbed by more broken roads) and the handling balance safe, though its body control is very well managed and it displays talent on twistier roads. It’s not fun or feisty like a Fiesta, though.

The initial engine range consists of three naturally aspirated petrol and two turbodiesel engines, with 85 per cent of i20s expected to sell with petrol power. The 99bhp 1.4-litre is the one to have, as it’s the most potent, but in truth they’re all a little uninspiring and need revs to unleash their tame performance. The upcoming 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol will likely be the pick of the range when it arrives.

Of the diesels, a 75bhp 1.1-litre is most interesting. Not for its pace, which could be politely described as lethargic, but for its claimed 88.3mpg and 84g/km CO2. It’s a remarkably civilised engine once you’re eventually up to speed, and it cruises well. It’s punchy through town, too, if you can tolerate its narrow powerband and aren’t immune to frequent gearchanges. Inevitably it’s rather rattly in congested traffic, though.

On the inside

Hyundai appears to have been eyeing up the Polo when penning the i20, and nowhere is this more obvious than inside. This car gets closer to VW’s ergonomic slickness than the Fiesta or Corsa, with everything operating in a simple and pleasing manner. The materials largely feel good too, and are a world away from budget Hyundai offerings of a generation or two ago. There’s little to excite, but it’s a mature and grown-up place to sit.

Owning

Insurance groups are low and everything but the 1.4 petrol dips below 120g/km, while Hyundai offers a five-year unlimited mileage warranty (Kia’s is seven years, but it’s capped to 100,000 miles). Price-wise, Hyundais aren’t the bargain they used to be, and they are pitched closer to more established rivals than ever before. That’s echoed in talents and spec levels, though, and the i20 justifies its cost. The SE model gets 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth and parking sensors, and comes in around £1,000 less than an equivalent Polo, which still edges it for more superficial appeal.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.4 Premium 5dr
11.6s 127g/km 51.4 100 £14,570
The cheapest
1.2 Classic 3dr
12.7s 114g/km 57.6 84 £10,125
The greenest
1.1 CRDi Blue S 5dr
16.0s 84g/km 88.3 75 £12,690

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Renault Captur

£14,240£21,140
The Renault Captur is a little pricier and bigger than the supermini norm, but it’s a thoroughly nice thing to live with and looks cool