It doesn't seem like a day passes without a manufacturer announcing another small crossover. Here's Hyundai's take on this genre - the i20 Active. Based on the popular i20 supermini, it offers a tougher look for those with an 'active lifestyle'.
Ten Second Review
Hyundai's i20 Active model brings a dash of crossover trendiness to the i20 supermini range. Put simply, what we've got here is an i20 on stilts. Ride height had been increased, the seats are mounted higher inside and 50% of the exterior has been changed in making this compact crossover. It also benefits from the brand's latest 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine to really take the fight to the Europeans.
The first i20 was released back in 2008 as a competitor for the likes of Ford's Fiesta, Vauxhall's Corsa and the Volkswagen Polo. The second generation version has proved to be spacious, good value and a definite improvement on the old car but a little lacking under the bonnet. Hyundai has developed a cutting-edge turbocharged petrol engine for this Active model that should do wonders for the performance whilst also offering improved economy and emissions. More obvious are the changes to the exterior styling. In this case, it's the kind of thing we saw a decade ago from superminis with SUV styling cues - models like the Volkswagen Polo Dune, the Citroen C3 XTR and the Rover Streetwise. Bringing that concept up to date, the i20 Active gains a host of changes to toughen it up and help it stand out from the crowd. Apart from a little more ground clearance, there's nothing to improve off-road ability - but then that shouldn't come as any surprise. Hyundai knows the market and distinctive looks are enough for the majority of buyers.
This Active model has a more restricted engine range than the i20 supermini it's based upon but the powerplant you do get is a very good one. Surprisingly (for UK buyers at least), the unit in question isn't a diesel. Instead, the Active range is based solely on one of Hyundai's most sophisticated engines, the hi-tech 1.0 litre T-GDI three cylinder powerplant. It comes in 100PS guise and produces 171Nm of torque. The 0-62mph sprint takes 10.9 seconds and top speed is 109mph. On the road, this ready supply of torque should translate into much more eager acceleration that's served up much lower in the rev range. Getting up to motorway speeds is therefore much easier, with A-road overtakes a much less fraught process. The 20mm increase in ride height shouldn't effect cornering too much, although body roll may be amplified, especially with the higher seating position. Like the normal i20, handling is likely to be surefooted and less vague than the first generation car but not what you'd call exciting.
Design and Build
Hyundai worked hard to increase the rigidity of the second generation i20's bodyshell, helping ride, handling and safety. To create the Active version, Hyundai have taken this shell and changed 50% of the exterior body parts to create a much more rugged-looking vehicle. There's an increase in ride height, different bumpers front and rear with integrated skid plates, plus round foglights at each end of the car. In profile, you might notice the addition of side rubbing strips along the bottom of the doors, black plastic wheelarch extensions plus black plastic cladding of an interesting texture. To top it all off, there are smart alloy wheel designs of up to 17" - and sliver roof rails too. Inside you get higher mounted seats that hopefully won't reduce headroom too much but do promise improved ergonomics. Finishing things off are a set of metal pedals and the option of 'Tangerine Orange' for elements of the interior. It should be noted that the i20 is larger inside than many rivals and also offers an impressively big 326-litre boot, much bigger than the class average.
Market and Model
You'll have to find another £1,200 for the i20 Active over what you would have paid for a five-door i20 with the same 100PS 1.0 T-GDI petrol engine. That premium gets you the Crossover-style look and some extra equipment and takes pricing to just over £15,000. Equipment levels are predictably strong. Expect to find features like 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a DAB radio and rear parking sensors. Plus electric windows all-round, voice activated Bluetooth, air conditioning and cruise control. Buyers may also want to stretch to things like heated seats, a chrome grille and a sunroof. There's also the option of a touchscreen sat nav. All models get stability control, traction control, six airbags, ABS and hill start assist.
Cost of Ownership
You might question why Hyundai has launched this car without a diesel engine. Perhaps the impressive efficiency figures the 1.0-litre petrol turbo unit is able to generate help to explain why. The 100PS version of the 1.0-litre engine manages around 60mpg on the combined cycle and 110g/km of CO2 (though that is down from the 99g/km of CO2 figure you'd get from this engine with the ordinary five-door i20 bodystyle). That's not quite as good as a purpose-designed small Crossover like Renault's Captur, but it's still a creditable showing. The i20 Active fights back with good levels of standard equipment and value pricing. The icing on the cake lies with Hyundai's ever impressive five year unlimited mileage warranty. If you're a private buyer who doesn't plan on changing your car anytime soon, that could seal the deal. Factor in competitive fixed price servicing deals for three or five years and you can see why the Hyundai brand proves so popular with value conscious buyers.
Hyundai hasn't needed to do a vast amount in turning the i20 hatchback into the i20 Active. Apart from jacking it up a little and adding some 4x4 inspired styling cues, it's much the same as before. That isn't an issue however. There were plenty of reasons to recommend the i20 before and they're all still there. The only difference is that those of you that like the idea of a crossover might be tempted if you weren't previously. Basing the Active around the brand's 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine pushes its price up a bit but for many potential buyers, the benefits this unit brings in terms of performance, economy and emissions will make the asking figure well worth it. This Korean crossover may not be the most frugal, the fastest or the most dynamic small crossover of its kind, but it's practical, good value and very well equipped. Just as you would expect a Korean car to be.