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The Top Gear car review: Hyundai i20
For:Utterly painless to own and operate
Against:Bland, and too average dynamically
What is it?
Despite the rally success of the crazed widebody 4WD i20 Coupe competing in the World Rally Championship, you’ll struggle to find any trace of that fire-breathing passion in the i20 five-door supermini.
But then the i20 sells pretty well precisely because of the absence of fire-breathing passion. Instead it neatly matches most people’s view of modern Korean consumer durables. It’s sensible, easy-to-use, reliable, strong value and modern in its tech. A can’t-go-wrong purchase.
Now the i20 has emerged from its mid-life makeover. The surgery isn’t just cosmetic; there have been upgrades to the engines and driver assistance.
From the front, then. The grille, in the Hyundai family style, is now bigger and more three-dimensional. Not much else happens until you get to the rear where there’s a new grey-plastic lower section emphasising width. The lights are more jewelled too. Standard facelift stuff, but it does manage to make it look classier.
The black glossy panel over the D-posts remains, and that’s the main distinguishing mark on what’s otherwise an utterly conventional supermini side view. There are some jolly new paint colours in the palette, but the i20 stays primly off the krazy kustom two-tone bandwagon that’s sweeping the small-car world.
The engine you want, the three-cylinder petrol turbo, is now available with a seven-speed DCT, replacing the old torque-converter auto. That helps efficiency. Five-speed (100bhp) and six-speed (120bhp) manuals continue as the mainstays.
There’s also an unblown 1.2 four-cylinder engine. It makes 75bhp in the lead-in model – one for the garage discourtesy-car trade. Move up to second-level SE trim and the same engine gains another nine bhp.
Diesel engines in superminis have always been a minority interest. They’re a big on-cost for a cheap car, especially with the latest emissions control gear. And now that cities, the natural home of things like the i20, have started to make noises about bans and taxes, the buyers will take fright. No surprise, then: the diesel option has been dropped from the i20.