Hyundai i20: farewell

Tenth report: farewell Hyundai i20

The i20 has been a funny car to run over these past six months, during which time we’ve covered nearly 3,000 miles. I can’t think of a single thing it has done to offend me (although the aforementioned noisy armrests came seriously close) but on the other hand I can’t think of much I absolutely love about it either.

Elsewhere the i20 has attracted criticism as a car that is ok in a great many ways but not excellent in any. After the first couple of drives I think I would have agreed.

However, with a bit of time spent behind the wheel the Hyundai’s quiet and calming nature became very endearing. It made me drive slowly and more considerately which in turn meant I arrived at my destination calmer and more fresh than in other cars. Also the seats were superb.

It has done the job of getting me from A to B admirably well and without any fuss, and I think herein lies the problem. If you consider driving just another job, then you’ll get on fine with the Hyundai i20, especially in this well-equipped and economical configuration.

The trouble arises when you find yourself alone on a serpentine ribbon of tarmac in a car that would really rather you take it easy. 

Of course this lack of dynamic ability is a matter of taste and as time when on I realised this was a bit of an “it’s not you, it’s me” sort of situation. 

On the whole I think the i20 and I were perhaps not made for each other. Much like a concious uncoupling, I can see the i20’s plus-points but they don’t really appeal to me, and I’d rather it be with someone who can appreciate it for what it is.

Final mileage: 2,848 

Economy: 36mpg (calculated)

Ninth report: company considerations

We rack up a lot of work miles in our long-termers at Parkers, which gives us a pretty good insight into how well they would work as company cars.

As a low-cost runaround the Hyundai i20 makes a pretty strong case for itself if you want a cheaper-than-chips work vehicle.

It’s not as poserish as a German saloon but who cares when you can have one for as little as £29 a month in BIK* tax, providing you can settle for glacial pace and no air-conditioning?

For niceties like climate control, auto lights/wipers and a smartphone dock you’ll want Premium trim like ours, which adds to the cruise control and Bluetooth also available in the SE grade below. 

It’s a fine starting point but you’ll need to use your phone as a sat-nav – we’ve been running this i20 for nearly six months now and often found it easier to stick an aftermarket navigation system on the dashboard rather than rely on a fiddly smartphone (a sign of ageing?).

Our car with its 1.4-litre petrol engine will set you back £49 a month in BIK* – the second cheapest option in this grade and £2 a month less than the 1.4-litre diesel. The fuel economy figures in the diesel are incomparable to our long-termer though – 51mpg to the diesel’s 68mpg – so in reality the latter is a more realistic choice to keep personal mileage costs down.

I’d pick the better fuel economy of the 1.4-litre diesel and the convenience of an in-built sat-nav courtesy of Premium Nav trim if this were my company car, and I’d be happy to pay £53 a month in BIK tax* for it.

I’ve enjoyed my time behind the wheel of our i20 but £4 a month seems a small premium to pay for a considerably more fleet-suitable vehicle. It’s surprising how quickly sat-nav has become an essential item.

*All calculations based on 20 percent tax

Mileage: 2,822 Economy: 36mpg (calculated)


Eighth report: i for an i

Not exactly a direct head-to-head but certainly a consideration if you’re in the market for a no-nonsense hatchback – do you want the i20 or the bigger i30?

On the face of it they are quite similar, offering the same seven-year warranty, sturdy interior and range of unexciting but efficient engines. This i30, though, has a punchy diesel and a fast-shifting dual-clutch automatic gearbox which takes the sting out of your left leg on a long commute.

It’s a good-looking car too – much curvier than the i20 and this theme continues inside. That size increase means more space in the back and a marginally bigger boot – 378 litres to the smaller car’s 326.

Offered the keys to either I’d take the i30 – it made my commute much easier and was more comfortable for family trips at the weekend, plus comes with an in-built sat-nav thanks to its generous SE Nav trim. 

Given that it costs £20,795 compared with the i20’s £15,325, you’d have to settle for a used model or a bottom-of-the-range petrol in Bluedrive S trim if you wanted a new one.

Our long-termer is still the better bet if value for money dominates your decision, or you simply don’t need the extra space.

Mileage: 2,791 Economy: 45.7mpg (indicated)



Seventh report: under pressure

In the past, the usual way of finding out whether one of your tyres was under-inflated was to put your foot on the wheel and lean on it for a bit.

Thankfully our Hyundai i20 long-termer comes with a special sensor in each wheel, which accurately keeps an eye on whether they have been pumped up to the right level.

A warning light and bonging noise advising me that the tyres were under-inflated came on the other day so I pulled into a fuel station and topped them all up. Incorrect type pressures can affect vehicle handling and also increase the amount of petrol or diesel you use, so it’s worth keeping them topped up. 

Unlike other cars we’ve driven, there’s no button to reset the pressure monitoring system. You just drive a few miles and it sorts itself out. It’ll be interesting to see if the fuel economy is affected.

Mileage: 2,745 Economy: 36mpg (calculated)


Sixth report: annoying armrests

Spend long enough in anyone’s company – even someone you really like – and eventually you’ll discover their annoying habits.

And so it is with our Hyundai i20 long termer. As a basic runaround it is flawless in so many areas – comfort, unassuming image and affability for eample. So you could be forgiven for thinking it had no weaknesses at all.

Unfortunately something came to light pretty early in our tenure, and it’s steadily got more bothersome as time has gone on – the squeaking armrest on the door.

Technically it’s not really a squeak, more a fizz. It sounds like someone is peeling sticky tape off a carpet, or like the armrest is inflating every time I move. There appears to be a bubble of air beneath the covering, which deflates and inflates every time my elbow moves – and the passenger door exhibits the same. 

The central armrest is also a pain, as although there’s a handy storage built-in, it’s in the way of the gearshift. It’s just too high, and I always have to reach down to change gears. 

It’s a shame because in all other ergonomic aspects the i20 fares very well. The seats are comfortable and supportive and the driving position itself is very good. 

Mileage: 2,722 Economy: 36mpg (calculated)

Fifth report: family day out

With the last vestiges of summer with us already we recently decided to make the most of a surprisingly hot weekend with a lakeside picnic.

It’s hard to be spontaneous with a young baby, what with the prerequisite logistical arrangements, health and safety assessment, and of course the neccesity to pack an entire wardrobe and village pharmacy.

Given that it’s only a supermini I was a bit worried we wouldn’t have enough room in my Hyundai i20 long-termer for all these bits and bobs that need to be within arm’s reach at any given moment.

However, thanks to five wide-opening doors, plus a larger footprint than its predecessor (our car is 45mm longer, 24mm wider, and has an extra 45mm between the wheels) it’s actually a very practical vehicle.

ISOFIX seat went in just fine

Even seemingly-spacious cabins have fallen foul of our rear-facing ISOFIX seat, which has a long base and requires a hand-width of space between it and the front passenger chair, but there was plenty of room thanks to a dashboard mounted higher up and a glovebox set further forward.

The mounting points are also easy to find in the i20, they’re above little buttons on the seat base and a tunnel has been cut into the cushion to guide the legs into place.

An extra 30 litres in the boot means our pushchair went in almost whole – we had to take a wheel off to get the lid shut.

Obviously it would make sense to test your particular child seat and buggy before buying an i20 but I’m glad to say that our collection of equipment went in just fine.

Mileage: 2,722 miles Economy: 36mpg (calculated)

Fourth report: i20 meets Kia Rio rival

The arrival of a white Kia Rio at the Parkers office got us all wondering which small Korean hatchback is the one to buy.

Personally I prefer the exterior of the Hyundai, but the interior of the Rio, particularly the harpsichord buttons used to control the air conditioning.

Drive and handling wise there isn’t much to separate them, but the Rio feels marginally faster thanks to its 107bhp, compared to the i20’s 99bhp. 

While Hyundai offers you a decent five year warranty, the Kia comes with a full seven, but then it costs £420 more for the equivalent of our i20.

In terms of character the Rio feels a bit younger and more exciting than the steady i20, and its steering wheel is a better shape (really splitting hairs here).

Incremental improvements put the Rio ahead. Sorry i20.

Mileage: 2,520 miles Economy: 49.65mpg (calculated)

Third report: too hot to handle?

Too hot to handle?

I’ve been making the most of the summer weather by giving our i20 a thorough performance appraisal. It’s already impressed with its cruising ability, so what about it’s capacity to entertain?

The steering feels great – really accurate – allowing you to place the car where you want it, and there’s certainly fun to be had in wringing out every last horse from the naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol engine. It revs keenly and sounds a world apart from the three-cylinder turbo everyone else is using. 

To make the most of this unit you have to acclimatise yourself to the light gearshift. On more than one occasion I’ve risked a left hand/dashboard interface after an enthusiastic change up from second. It has a really smooth action though and a bit of reassuring weight here would have put it among the best in its class.

It’s hard to maintain momentum due to the soft springs allowing the car to fall over itself, engaging the traction control system and wiping momentum as you turn through sharper corners. 

As a result it feels like the faster you go, the more the car is trying to slow you down. I suppose from a safety point of view this is a good thing.

For maximum enjoyment its best to back off a bit to the point where it leaves you alone. Get into this zone and the i20 feels both safe and a bit of a laugh.

Mileage: 2,292 miles Economy: 43.3mpg (calculated)

Second report: motorway litmus test

No nav means sticking one on the dash

Nothing highlights a car’s weaknesses like a long journey. Hours of motorway miling leaves few places for problems to hide.

A recent run of launches saw me driving from the Parkers office in Peterborough to Cheshire, then to Heathrow, and back to the office again – a round trip of more than 400 miles. A good opportunity to cover in a few days what would take the average motorist two weeks.

Our Premium spec car has no sat nav or DAB radio. To add these you’ll need the seven inch touchscreen that comes with Premium Nav trim, costing £675. You also get a rear view camera.

These would be handy for frequent long journeys but if you only do short ones don’t bother. An aftermarket sat nav is a lot cheaper and you won’t miss DAB radio or the camera that much.

The automatic climate control takes a bit of fine tuning. Normally I just stick it on 21 degrees and forget about it. In the i20 I had to keep increasing it by half a turn until it was on 25 degrees in the middle of the day, since it seems to just get colder as time wears on – regardless of temperature setting.  

One area that doesn’t need an upgrade is the driver’s seat. Considering it’s just a normal chair and not some Orthospinal-posturematic-comfortplus-solution like those found in more expensive cars, it is remarkably good. I had barely a twinge of back pain.

Next time I’ve got a long drive ahead the i20 will be right at the top of my list of cars to take. Providing I can borrow a satnav again.

Mileage: 2,045 miles Economy: 43.7mpg (calculated)

First Report: welcome

Having driven a couple of Hyundai i20s already I was sure I knew what to expect from the latest Parkers long termer before it arrived. Easy to use, comfortable, predictable and practical it promises to fit neatly into my busy family life. 

Ours is a mid-table Premium, which means it comes with climate control and parking sensors, but no in-built sat nav. So I’ll need to attach my smartphone to the built-in cradle instead. Either that or spend the next few months studying maps. It has everything else I need and costs just £15,325.

For what it’s worth I think the i20 looks quite cool in an understated and slightly anonymous way too, especially in white.

The 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine looks a little out of place amongst a class of smaller turbocharged units, though it promises 51.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 127g/km. 

Often fashion dictates that small hatchbacks must offer a sporty or dynamic feel, fitted with firm suspension and bucket seats more likely to give you backache than driving pleasure. Not so the i20 which trades these for a comfortable driving seat and cushiony ride. That doesn’t promise the most fun drive, but with a decent amount of kit and comfort I’m looking forward to spending time with it.

For ‘true’ owners the five-year warranty provides excellent peace of mind, though we don’t expect to trouble it in our time with the car. What we do expect to find out is whether this Hyundai i20, with its sensible looks, sensible running costs and sensible (but practical) cabin is worth your cash or not. 

Mileage on arrival: 5,600 miles Economy: 51.4mpg (Claimed)