Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0
  • Choice of a petrol or diesel engine
  • Both offer frugal running costs and low VED bands
  • Either choice delivers lower speed driving fun

While it looks a sporty number don’t expect Hyundai i20 Coupe performance to be up there with full-on sports cars. Buyers have the choice of either a 1.2-litre petrol or 1.4-litre diesel engine.

Petrol engine choice

We have tested the petrol engine and it’s a very willing performer that delivers driving fun within the speed limits - a neat trick that makes it very licence-friendly but without being a dull driving experience. That said, compared to the, albeit more expensive, Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1-litre Ecoboost it doesn’t feel as accomplished or grown-up on the road.

Around town the engine is well-matched to the five-speed gearbox with a reasonable spread of power that enables you to nip into gaps and keep up with traffic.

Out on the motorway the engine feels less at home. It’s fine at lower cruising speeds but start to push to keep up with faster-moving traffic and the engine feels buzzy and a bit noisy. The lack of a sixth gear doesn’t help as the engine is revving quite high in top gear even at 60mph.

The upside is fuel economy with the car getting close to the official claimed average of 55.4mpg when doing a lot of motorway miles. Road tax should be a wallet-friendly affair as it sits in VED Band C. There is a Blue Drive version (only in base SE trim) which marginally reduces emissions and barely improves average mpg, so it’s hardly going to make a difference to running costs.

Rivals such as Ford Fiesta are significantly better for fuel economy when comparing official claimed figures – the previously mentioned Fiesta has a claimed average of 62mpg.

Diesel option is more frugal

The 1.4-litre diesel is used in a variety of other models including the Hyundai i20 hatchback version and the larger Hyundai i30 model, so it’s a well-proven engine.

As you would expect of a diesel it’s strong for economical motoring with a claimed official average of 68mpg and VED band rating of B thanks to just 106g/km of CO2. The downside is its insurance group is ten compared with the 1.2-litre petrol engine version which is just five, but both versions are lower than main rivals.

Outright power is nothing to get excited about with just 88bhp but there is a decent amount of pulling power, which when aligned with the six-speed manual should be good for making decent progress, especially at lower speeds. It’s a second quicker in the 0-62mph sprint than the petrol version.

The i20 Coupe feels agile as you steer it through urban streets and city centres. It certainly inspires confidence.

It’s out on the major roads that the i20 Coupe feels underpowered and overwhelmed. It doesn’t have the turn of speed or the composure to make attacking big, open sweeping bends a rewarding experience. Rivals such as Peugeot’s 208 and the Ford Fiesta provide a more grown-up, settled handling experience.

Smooth ride

The i20 Coupe does, however, provide a great trade-off between agile handling and a cosseting ride. It can dart through town, nip round traffic and dash round the plethora of roundabouts that are dotted through major towns.

The suspension is firm enough to make this a fun experience but is also supple enough to soak up the holes and cracks littered across the UK’s roads. Both driver and passengers will never get jarred even when hitting the choppiest of black tops.