They may only have 1bhp, but that's all these angry little cars need...
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The Top Gear car review:Hyundai i20
For:Up with supermini sector front-runners in most areas, VW-like interior quality
Against:Some so-so engines, not as cheap as it was
1.2 Premium 5dr
Can South Korea’s newly poshed-up supermini stick it to the Fiesta and Polo? Stephen Dobie finds out
The data pages at the back of TG are liberally sprinkled with mini MPVs. The Renault Modus was one of the first, then came the Nissan...
Impressively cheap, but no fun. Unless budget’s your only consideration, a Fiesta diesel makes more sense.
Safe and practical, but so’s lots of the opposition. Not interesting enough and not cheap enough.
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.
It’s even launched a more stylish three-door version it’s calling the i20 Coupe, a bespoke approach that underlines how it’s not messing about in this sector.
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 consisted 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 was the one to have, but in truth they’re all a little uninspiring and need revs to unleash their tame pace. Good job the long-awaited 1.0-litre turbo triple has arrived: now eschew the 1.4 and spend the extra on the T-GDI. You won’t regret it.
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.
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.