What is the Hyundai i20?
Now on its second generation, the Hyundai i20 is a small family car or supermini, which means it competes against the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza, Nissan Micra and Kia Rio.
This in turn means the i20 is in for a bit of a tough time, as there are some extremely good cars available in this segment of the market – not least the Fiesta, which is the UK’s bestselling car.
But Hyundai has cleverly positioned the i20 as a sensible choice. It’s good to look at, mature to drive, has lots of space inside, and comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
- Top speed: 99-118mph
- 0-62mph: 10.2-13.6 seconds
- Fuel economy: 46.3-49.6mpg
- Emissions: 114-130g/km CO2
- Boot space: 301-1,042 litres
At present (2019-on) the Hyundai i20 is only available as a regular five-door hatchback, which is sensible without being boring to look at.
Previously, this generation was also available as the i20 Coupe (really just a three-door hatchback and renamed as such before it was discontinued) and an i20 Active model, featuring slightly raised suspension and fake plastic body cladding in the manner of an old Rover Streetwise.
These were discontinued in 2017 and 2018, respectively – though you can read a little more about the Active below.
Similarly, while a diesel version of the Mk2 i20 was available initially, the range is exclusively petrol-powered these days, with a choice of 1.2-litre MPI non-turbo in 75hp and 84hp variants, and a 1.0-litre T-GDI available with 100hp or 120hp.
There are four trim levels, two of which come with sat-nav as standard – a good hint that standard equipment is typically very generous on this car.
The i20 Active is one of those pseudo-off-roader conversions of a regular car, designed to bridge the gap between a hatchback and an SUV, and not really satisfying either party.
On the plus side, the i20 Active looks quite good, with its 20mm raised ride-height and chunky plastic body work extension. The extra height also raises the hip point of the seats, which might help those with limited mobility get in and out.
However, it has no additional off-road performance and wasn’t particularly good value for money when it was launched. No wonder it was only on-sale for two years.
Fancy something similar new? Then check out the Ford Fiesta Active, which is another attempt at this exact same idea.
Styling and engineering
The Hyundai i20 isn’t going to break any hearts with its styling, but this is a neatly designed small hatch that you can be proud to put on your drive.
More importantly, it’s also a very spacious small car – so if you regularly need to put adults in the back, the i20 could be worth closer consideration.
Like the outside, the interior design is mature, but not unattractive. Material and build quality is better than you might expect if you haven’t set foot inside a Hyundai recently. But then, it needs to be, as prices have been creeping up.
Beneath the bodywork, the i20 shares parts with a number of other Hyundai and Kia models – particularly the Kia Rio.
Beyond this, there’s nothing particularly innovative beneath the skin. Though with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, it should all prove dependable and durable.
This largely depends on how you define good.
If you’re looking for a comfortable car that feels safe and secure, with light controls and an easy to handle nature, the Hyundai i20 will suit you just fine.
If you’re looking for something with taut responses, high levels of cornering grip and a real sense of driver engagement, you’d best look elsewhere. Try the Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza.
Hyundai always used to be a budget conscious brand, but the i20 certainly doesn’t have bargain basement pricing – although Hyundai is one of few manufacturers that often offers cash discounts these days, the i20 is out-priced by a number of more mainstream rivals.
This is particularly the case when it comes to buying on finance, an area where Hyundai isn’t very competitive at all.
Hyundai i20 Model History
Current model history
- January 2015 – Deliveries of new i20 begin. Trim structure starts at S, moving through S Air (with air-con), S Blue, SE, Premium and Premium SE. Engines offered are 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrols, along with 1.1- and 1.4-litre diesels. An automatic was available on the 1.4 petrol.
- March 2016 – Facelift for 2016 goes on sale, with introduction of new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine. Trim levels now include Premium Nav and Premium SE Nav, while all get more kit as standard. More rugged Active trim also goes on sale.
- August 2016 – New i20 Turbo Edition launched with help of TV campaign. As name suggests, gets 1.0-litre 100hp petrol motor.
- April 2018 – Another update for the i20 line-up, this time introducing Hyundai’s family face cascading grille, a two-tone roof, a new seven-speed automatic gearbox, loads more safety kit and a new 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen for higher-spec models. Diesel models discontinued.
Like the current Mk2 model, the first-gen i20 was spacious, refined and delivered a competent driving experience.
It was also well priced – perhaps not the second-generation model’s strongest area – with lots of standard equipment. Add to that the five-year unlimited mileage warranty, and it was clearly great value, too.
The budget origins of the Hyundai brand do show through a little more obviously with this model, though. Some of the interior plastics feel cheap (and aren’t likely to have aged too nicely) and the seats are firm and unyielding, making them uncomfortable on longer journeys.