Review: Hyundai Elite i20

Posted by Girish Karkera at 06:09 am on Tuesday August 19, 2014

The suspense about the price and features of Hyundai's all-new 'Elite' i20 ended a week ago. Hyundai launched a petrol and a diesel version of the new car in an interesting price bracket of Rs 6-9 lakh to sound the alarm bells in the VW and Maruti camp. The older i20 did surprisingly well in the premium hatchback segment, and Hyundai is aiming for greater glory with a car that promises to bring a new level of 'luxury' to this section of the market.

There's little doubt that Hyundai's evolving Fluidic design theme has only gotten better over time. The Elite, as Hyundai prefers to call it, is a fine example of that, with an array of crisp lines and features that gives the car an all-new look, and yet, manages to retain hints of its predecessor's design.

The new i20 has a bigger wheelbase, is marginally wider, but has actually lost a few millimetres in length. Cabin space is generous in terms of legroom. The seats are reasonably big, and give enough overall support. At the rear, three people can sit without feeling hemmed-in. The angle to which the seat back can be reclined is sufficient, and there is good under-thigh support, although the bench could've offered more under-thigh cushioning. Rear air-con vents also make their debut in the Elite i20.

It's a well-laid out cabin, the Elite's, with a host of features like a dashboard-integrated music system, climate control, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The steering is big but easy to grip, and the twin-dial instrument cluster is neat. Quality of plastics, fabric and trim is high, as are the levels of fit and finish, all of which are enough to give you the upmarket feel you need from a premium hatchback.

Gallery: Hyundai Elite i20

The Elite i20 manages to offer a big-car feel on the move, too. Under the hood, you can choose to have either a silent 1.2-litre petrol from the Kappa family, or a robust 1.4-litre second-generation CRDi unit. The latter is a reasonably powerful motor with 89bhp and 220Nm at your service. It isn't a free-revving unit, but it helps build speed at a healthy pace. With a lot of torque on demand, it makes cruising at slow speeds easy, even in higher gears. You don't have to keep changing gears frequently.

The petrol has improved low and mid-range response, too, compared to the earlier model. We like this engine more because it is silent, and feels much more refined than the diesel. Fuel efficiency is a claimed 18.6kpl, which should translate to an overall figure of 13-14kpl in the real world. Of course, the diesel boasts of an ARAI-certified figure of 22.54kpl, which makes it an even better option for those who go on frequent long-distance trips.

The steering weighs up nicely at high speeds, but it’s not particularly communicative. The lighter front-end of the petrol makes it feel a bit skittish when you’re going fast. It isn’t tough to control, but strangely, it doesn’t have the same poise that the diesel version possesses. Hyundai engineers, however, do claim that mechanically, there is no difference between the dynamic set-ups of both engine variants.

Hyundai has done away with some noble safety add-ons like the six airbags the previous i20 had. Instead, the Elite i20 has to make do with just two of those, in an obvious bid to control costs. But there are some other safety bits like the 'smart pedal' which overrides accelerator input with that of the brake if the driver presses both in a panic situation. That said, we won't be surprised if Hyundai does a rethink and gets a more loaded version at a later date, possibly with an automatic gearbox.

After a string of successful launches, Hyundai seems to have created a sound package once again with the Elite i20. We're not fans of the new name, but there is a lot going for the Elite i20 in case you are in the market for a practical, yet premium sub-Rs 10 lakh hatchback.

The numbers
Petrol: 1197cc, 82bhp, 115Nm, 18.6kpl, Diesel: 1396cc, 89bhp, 230Nm, 22.54kpl (claimed), 5M (P)/ 6M (D), LxWxH: 3985x1734x1505mm, Wheelbase: 2570mm, Ground Clearance: 170mm, Fuel Tank: 45 L, Brakes: Front discs/ Rear drums, Tyres/Wheels: 185/70 R14 steel; 195/55 R16 alloy on Sportz (O)/Asta, Rs 6.5-9.5 lakh (estimated, on-road)

The verdict
A good-looking, spacious car that gives you a big-car feel for small-car money

TAGS// i20, elite, elite i20, hyundai

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