2021 Hyundai i20 Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the 2021 Hyundai i20.
Car Tested: 2021 Hyundai i20; Road Test No. 1250; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 7.99 – 13.35 lakhs
India’s most popular premium hatchback gets a new design and new engines along with a plethora of features and equipment
Hatchbacks have always been very popular in India and the hatchback segment itself is divided into multiple sub-segments. The premium hatchback segment has been witnessing constant growth since the past many years and Hyundai has always had a good market share here. The Korean automaker has brought in the third generation of the i20 to India. This car is a very important product in Hyundai’s line-up and we are sampling it today to see how better it is than the outgoing model.
MotorQuest: Hyundai was one of the earliest automakers to introduce premium hatchbacks to the Indian market. The Getz, which was launched in 2004, was a premium hatchback and at that time, it felt more European and less Korean. At a time when customers thought of hatchbacks as small and inexpensive cars, the market was still warming up to the idea of a bigger and relatively expensive hatchback and the Getz did decently well in India. In fact, the Getz diesel was known for its explosive performance too.
Exteriors – When Hyundai showcased the new i20 for the first time digitally, the design drew mixed reactions from people. Let me admit, I wasn’t a fan of the styling either but the car just looks so much better in person. The front looks a bit similar to the Verna from certain angles while the side has typical Hyundai design elements. The rear has a love it or hate it design and I think it looks good in red, but not so much in white. The new i20’s wheelbase is 10 mm longer than the older model and this car is also 41 mm wider while the height remains the same. What this means is that the i20’s wheelbase is a full 80 mm longer than the Venue’s. The front is flanked by LED projector headlamps and halogen projector fogs while the Z-shaped tail lamps are also LED units. The i20, being such a popular name, drew a lot of attention from fellow motorists when we were shooting it.
Interiors – The cabin of the 2021 Hyundai i20 is completely different from the second gen model. The dashboard sees a completely new design, the instrument cluster is new as well and the automaker has equipped the vehicle with a good set of features. The cabin gets an all-black colour theme with red accents for the Turbo variants and bronze accents for the regular variants. Lots of hard plastics can be found on the dashboard and door pads but the quality is good and in standard Hyundai manner even the fit & finish levels are good. The windshield is slightly bigger than before and you get a good view from the driver’s seat. The ORVMs are also decently sized and the large windows lend a sense of airiness to the cabin.
The i20 is feature-loaded to the brim including wireless charging, ambient lighting, connected car tech and a superb sound system
The steering wheel is similar to the one on the Venue Sport and Creta while the digital instrument panel is shared with the Verna. The display is crisp and easy to read while the MID also showcases a variety of information. I personally am not a fan of the anti-clockwise tachometer though. The new i20 gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The HD screen has a good resolution, the menus are easy to navigate and you get the usual connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, in-built navigation and so on. The infotainment is mated to Bose speakers giving out good aural pleasure. There’s a speaker in every door, two front tweeters and a sub-woofer placed in the boot. Some other features include a cooled glovebox, wireless charging with a cooling pad, automatic climate control, keyless go with push-button start, ambient lighting and a sunroof. The i20 also gets Hyundai’s BlueLink connectivity with 50 functions. Some extra features like an auto-dimming IRVM and ventilated seats would have been nice to have.
Having driven the second-gen i20 numerous times, I could instantly notice the improvement in the front seats here. The seats are well-bolstered and the under-thigh support is decent too. The i20 gets fabric upholstery all around and there’s no art leather as such. The rear seat is also improved and offers better comfort. Knee room has improved by 88 mm while shoulder space is up by 40 mm. The floor hump isn’t entirely flat but it’s not too bothersome either. You get two adjustable headrests at the rear and the rear centre armrest doesn’t get any in-built cupholders. Three people can be seated at the rear but it gets a bit tight if all of the passengers are full-sized, so we’d recommend using the seat for two adults and a kid. There’s a large bottle holder in every door along with some storage space. You also get some cubby holes upfront in the centre console. The boot capacity is now 311-litres, up by 26-litres from before.
Performance – The third-gen Hyundai i20 gets the same set of engines as the Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet. The first engine is the 1.2-litre Kappa, 4-cyl, NA unit making 83 PS in the manual variant and 88 PS in the IVT trim. It delivers 115 Nm of torque for both MT and IVT. We didn’t get a chance to sample this engine in the new i20 but we have tested it before. It is good on refinement and has enough punch for day-to-day driving but if you’re looking for some enthusiasm while driving then Hyundai offers better engine choices. The second engine is the familiar 1.0-litre, turbocharged, 3-cyl petrol unit making 120 PS and 172 Nm. On the i20, this engine is offered with a 6-speed iMT or a 7-speed DCT and we sampled the latter. The T-GDI unit is high on power and offers brilliant punch.
The i20 shares its petrol, turbo petrol and diesel engines with the Kia Sonet and the Hyundai Venue
There is some lag which can be felt lower down but the engine really becomes alive in the mid-range offering a good rush of power. The i20 accelerates well and the gearbox is also smooth and quick to respond. Hyundai claims a 0-100 km/hr time of 9.9 seconds for this variant. The DCT works well under most scenarios and only when you suddenly want to gain some pace and you mash the throttle, it takes a couple of seconds to downshift. Being a 3-cylinder unit, the 1.0 engine isn’t the smoothest mill out there but is fairly refined. Minor vibrations can be felt in the cabin and the engine also gets a bit vocal as the revs increase. With the ARAI figure stated to be 20.25 km/l, the turbo DCT delivers about 10-12 km/l in city traffic and can go up to 14 km/l on the highway.
The third engine is a 1.5-litre, 4-cyl, diesel unit making 100 PS and an impressive 240 Nm. This engine is offered on the Verna, Creta and Seltos as well and on those cars, you also get the option of a 6-speed AT but the i20 gets only a 6-speed MT with this engine. Refinement is very good and the clatter isn’t very loud. Turbo lag isn’t very prominent and it is quite manageable.
The oil-burner offers a very delightful surge in the mid-range and this engine feels quite punchy till about 4000 RPM. Both the 1.0 petrol and 1.5 diesel engines can make your drive entertaining. The 6-speed MT offers smooth shifts and the clutch is also noticeably light. With an ARAI figure of 25.2 km/l, this is the most fuel-efficient 1.5 diesel engine in India right now.
Driving Dynamics – Hyundai has worked on the ride and handling of the i20 and it shows. The new i20 is much more agile than before, the steering is fairly precise and it remains rock solid at high speeds. Even when you do some hard cornering, it remains firm and planted. The steering is very light and weighs up a bit at high speeds but lacks feedback and feels vague, especially at the centre. The suspension is silent and there are barely any noises heard inside the car. The i20 feels pliant over bad roads and while the ride has a slightly firm edge to it, it is very comfortable and even if you cross a poor patch at slightly high speeds, the i20 tackles it easily without losing its composure. Braking performance is decent as well but I found the pedal bite of the diesel variant to be sharper and more progressive compared to the DCT’s.
Safety and After Sales Service – The new Hyundai i20 hasn’t been crash-tested yet but it does come equipped with a lot of safety tech like six airbags, ABS with EBD, TPMS, ESC, Hill Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Management. The Korean automaker has been operating in India since more than two decades now and they’ve built a very large sales and service network across the country so the ownership experience is quite hassle-free and Hyundai owners have seldom had reasons to complain.
Verdict – The third-generation Hyundai i20 is a big step-up from the previous generation. It is bigger, looks better, gets more kit and also comes equipped with better engines and gearboxes. Hyundai has upped the comfort of the i20 with this model and also made it superior to drive. Now if we talk about the pricing, yes the top variants could have been priced slightly lower but if you have the budget to opt for the top-most Asta (O) trim, it does make sense forking out the moolah because all the extra equipment will keep you happy in the long term. If you’re on a tight budget and want something more VFM, we’d recommend the Sportz variant.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Maruti Baleno, Tata Altroz, Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Glanza, Ford Freestyle, Honda Jazz
Further Reading –