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Review: Hyundai i20 diesel

Driven August 2012

Review: Hyundai i20 diesel

The i20 Asta petrol was a well-fitted car with features that were top-of-the-line for that price. The one thing missing was driving spunk. But when you switch that 1.2 petrol Kappa engine for a 1.4 CRDi, it’s a whole new experience. More on that in a bit.

The i20 has a refreshed look that is largely appealing, especially since the previous generation had been around for a while. The aggressive headlamps are well complemented with angular fog lamps and a meaner, thinner grille to go with it. The new design changes are quite obvious but it retains the signature i20 look that we’re used to.

For some reason, Hyundai won’t offer the i20 Asta (O) variant in diesel. So even though we had the top-of-the-line i20, it didn’t have the six airbags and sunroof offered in the cheaper Asta (O) petrol variant. It does, however have all-four disc brakes. The rest of the features list matches its petrol counterpart spec for spec, including the music system with Bluetooth, rear parking camera with sensor and electric mirrors, among others.

Though the i20 diesel misses out on the sunroof and additional airbags, it more than makes up with its drive. The 1.4-litre engine coupled with a 6-speed gearbox feels noticeably lighter. Refinement is decent, but it has mechanical clatter that makes its presence felt especially when you push hard. Zero-100kph comes up in 11.91seconds, compared to the 15.49seconds we got from the petrol variant. However, there’s noticeable turbo lag, the power kicking in at 2,000rpm, which takes getting used to especially in traffic and calls for a downshift or two during overtaking. Once you’re used to working the gearbox to your advantage, the i20 diesel can be fun.

The mid-range is punchy, which makes driving a pleasure, especially on the highway. As long as the car stays between 2,000 and 3,500rpm, the drive feels great. The diesel engine definitely feels more apt for the i20’s size. In the city, the i20 feels nimble thanks to the light steering. Ride quality is pretty good and the suspension works away the bumps pretty well but it isn’t very enthusiastic when it comes to changing direction – the light steering doesn’t help matters.

With the recent hike in petrol prices, you need little reason to go for a diesel car. The fact that it returns 13.3kpl (city) and 16.2kpl (highway) adds to the appeal. But remember, at Rs 8.74 lakh, you’re paying a packet for all that equipment.

Gagan Gupta

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