Car tested: 2009 Hyundai i20 1.4L CRDi Diesel
Price OTR Mumbai: 7,93,314/-
Think small is the new mantra nowadays and although premium hatchbacks are all but small, anything without a boot is termed as a small car. Enter the Hyundai i20 and all that is set to change. This car is by no means small. It boasts of huge dimensions and sporty looks with pure engine refinement. Replacing the Getz worldwide, the Hyundai i20 has been made keeping the European customers in mind, but does the Hyundai i20 live up to the expectations? We find out.
Exteriors - The i20 was easily the best looking hatchback in our country, till the Fiat Grande Punto stepped in. The car looks very handsome and although it rides on small 14inch wheels it still manages to look sporty. Just like all Hyundai cars, the i20 looks absolutely smashing in white. The front looks elegant and the rear is where it really impresses ,with well laid out tail lamps. The car has lots of curves and Hyundai has managed to pull out a stunner. Compared to the Getz, the i20 is a huge step forward in the design department.
Interiors - Hyundai has never really made interiors which would make you sit in the car forever. But the i20 is different. The dashboard is very well laid out and feels like it belongs to a car in a segment above. Controls are very well placed and the center console houses a decent audio system. Aux in and USB port means you can carry your choice of music, the way you want. Steering feels good to hold and has audio controls on it.
The rear bench is SPACIOUS. Leg room is easily the best in the segment and if you want to be driven around then you have found the perfect car for you. Lack of lamp at the front is a shocking omission on a car of this price, so is the omission of a mirror on the sun visor. Europeans are surely not narcissist.
The glove box is huge. Infact it can just manage to swallow a laptop. However you need a 12″ notebook in order to close the glove box.
The boot is one of the biggest we have seen on any hatchback barring the Honda Jazz. The rear seats fold to accommodate more luggage.
Built Quality - The i20 is an important export model for Hyundai we get the same car in India which is destined for Hyundai’s European customers, and it shows. The car is very well put together and you will be hard pressed to find any fault with the quality of the car. Everything feels top notch and seems to be screwed together with utter finesse as if price wasn’t an issue while making the car.
The i20 i10 was codenamed PA when it was under development and the front wiper has DR and PA written on it which means driver and passenger respectively (thanks Siva for the tip). However the wipers are not the latest gen, which is a big disappointment considering the i20 was launched globally just 10 months back and cars launched 4 years back too have the new blades.
On the Move - The i20 has a similar key like the Octavia/Linea which is foldable. Crank the diesel powerplant and it comes to life with a silent roar. The engine does have the diesel clatter but that subsides as the car gains velocity. Steering is very light and the gears slot in with ease. However sometimes getting into second is not all that smooth. The inside rear view mirror vibrates when you hit bad roads and occasionally when you accelerate hard which is quite a headache. Surprisingly, the i20 lacks a drivers seat height adjuster too, and seat adjustment is clearly not the best. Seats lack back support and long hours in the i20 will result in a sore back.
Ride, Handling and Braking - Super minis are all about big things in small packages. The i20 is expected to be the same. The car rides on 14 inch Apollo Acelere tires which to be brutally honest ruin the dynamics of the car to a great extent. On paper the i20 has it covered but on road its quite a different scenario. Ride is quite unsettled and the car seems to transfer lots of bumps into the cabin. The i20 is the first hatchback to boast of all wheel discs and it does help. Stamp on the brakes and the i20 retards speed with utmost urgency. But similar brake tests on higher speeds reveal the lack of confidence. Brake hard from speeds above 100kmph and the i20 has tendency to of line. Infact, braking hard over 120 kmph will result in you landing in a different lane altogether.
High speed stability is decent and again the i20 does not feel well planted on triple digit speeds. It just doesn’t inspire you to push hard. The car is more towards the soft side and that shows. Handling is good but the Swift is more fun anyday. All this can be attributed to the crappy tires on the car, even Kumhos would have done a decent job. A car costing so much can surely do with bigger and wider tyres.
Performance - Hyundai’s oil burners are a class act. The 1.4 liter CRDi mill boasts of very good numbers and the i20 is the fastest diesel hatchback currently sold in the country. The car is fast and has ample amount of power and torque. However the tall gearing and turbo lag don’t make it so effortless in the city but come on the highway and the engine comes on its own.
1st and 2nd gear give you a kick when the turbo kicks in at 2200rpm. This kick is absent in rest of the gears. In gear acceleration is not the best and the 1.3L Multijet which powers 6 other cars in India still rules the roost here. Hyundai has managed to strike the right balance with the engine, which being the most powerful in the segment is also the most fuel efficient.
Conclusion - For an average hatchback buyer, the i20 strikes all the right chords. It has decent ride, handling and braking and excellent built quality. A Very powerful engine with very good fuel economy and loads of space both in cabin and boot is more than you can expect. It might be very expensive to buy but it comes loaded with ample amount of equipment including a few segment firsts like 6 airbags and rear discs. It might not be perfect but it easily is one of the best hatchbacks money can buy. The Hyundai i20 is a jack of all trades and a master of some.