June Neary gets to grips with Hyundai's best ever supermini.
Will It Suit Me?
Hyundai coming up with a genuinely competitive supermini is probably that last thing that most small car buyers need. Nobody wants to pay good money for the wrong car but there is such a thing as too much choice. The second generation i20 is yet another supermini that warrants serious consideration. I'd already sampled the marque's i30 family hatchback and i10 city car, so I had a rough idea of what was coming when this MK2 model i20 supermini slotted in between them. It was likely to be well built, practical and competitively priced but most of all, it was likely to be another viable entrant in the supermini market's mainstream. Buyers doing their research would not only need to consider the Fiesta, Corsa, Clio, Peugeot 208, Ibiza, Polo and others but also the i20 too. The real question though, is whether or not the Hyundai is equipped to come out on top?
The design of the i20 is probably going to be too sober for some tastes but it's clean, neat and generally very well executed. The front end looks cleaner and wider: there are even elements of Golf there, which is no bad thing. I like the cabin too. It has the design maturity of a much bigger car. Interior space has improved, there now being the sort of space you'd expect from some cars in the Focus class above. The additional legroom was created in the front by raising the height of the dashboard and moving the glovebox and surrounding components forward. Space in the back will be generous enough for adults to undertake short journeys and fine for kids, while the boot is impressively proportioned. Cargo capacity has also been enhanced, making the vehicle one of the most accommodating in the segment. The boot volume has increased by from 295-litres to a class-leading 326-litres. For me, it makes the difference between being easily able to get a pushchair in - and struggling with the thing. The rear bench folds flat, meaning capacity is boosted to 1042-litres with the rear seats folded.
Behind the Wheel
With a height-adjustable driver's seat and a steering column that adjusts for both rake and reach, the i20 should prove accommodating for drivers of most shapes and sizes. Hyundai is offering a wide range of engines, including 1.25 and 1.4-litre petrol units and 1.1 or 1.4-litre diesel powerplants, as well as five- or six-speed manual transmissions or a four-speed auto 'box. None of the engines on offer are especially fast but all will probably be adequate for their intended market. The 1.2-litre petrol unit offers 76bhp and the ability to launch the car to 60mph in 12.9s before proceeding to a 106mph top speed, just over half a second quicker than the fastest of the two rather noisy 1.4-litre diesels. The steering system is now an electric motor-driven steering system that requires 2.7 turns lock-to-lock for a tiny 5.1-metre turning radius - making the car easy to navigate in town.
Value For Money
Prices start at around £10,000, so this Hyundai is no longer a bargain basement choice. Still, it's very well equipped and can be ordered with features that aren't common in the supermini sector. A full-length panoramic sunroof that can both tilt and fully open is an interesting touch, as are two comfort-orientated technologies first fitted to the Hyundai i40: automatic windscreen defog and a heated steering wheel. A dashboard-integrated seven-inch satellite navigation system, automatic folding door mirrors, front and rear parking assist and smartphone docking integration are offered. USB and auxiliary connectivity is fitted as standard and can be specified with an integrated My Music function, along with Bluetooth hands free, where up to 1GB of music can be stored and played. Safety equipment includes six airbags on all models, a Lane Departure Warning System, standard stability control tuned to be as unobtrusive as possible and a Hill Start Assist Control standard to prevent roll back. Hyundai's exemplary five year unlimited mileage warranty package will be a major draw for buyers with their eyes on the bottom line - and is one reason why this car should hold its value so well - in the short term at least.
Could I Live With One?
I've got to say I like the i20. It's another in a long line of creditable efforts from the marque and while it might lack the sparkle of some of its contemporaries, it's refreshingly straightforward and difficult to fault. It does mean that supermini buyers have yet another name to consider but if you priorities are value, build quality and a peace of mind ownership experience, you might find yourself doing more than just considering this Hyundai.