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Small Hyundai hits the big time

PUBLISHED: 11:53 17 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:53 17 March 2015

pix for suff mag 2015

pix for suff mag 2015

Archant

The Hyundai i20 is the right car at the right price

pix for suff mag 2015pix for suff mag 2015

The small car class is full of star performers but the i20 might just have aced its latest exams.

The i10 is a cracker, and the all-new i20 is every bit as good. Everything is better than before, from the suspension to the seats, and from the high-tensile steel body to the innovative sat-nav integration solution.

The Korean company has worked on a premium feel, and it goes way beyond a few soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard. Quality engineering seeps from the i20’s every panel, and it shines through in a genuinely superb package.

The new cars boast a genuinely striking appearance thanks to second-generation Fluidic Sculpture design and neat, balanced proportions.

Until recently Hyundai’s image has centred on reliability and quality, backing it up with a five-year warranty, thus appealing to older buyers. The hawkish looks of the new i20 are designed to broaden that appeal to younger buyers, and it works. This is a genuinely desirable car.

In terms, of space, a 301-litre boot brings up the rear, and its evenly shaped proportions mean there’s every chance of pakcing it full of differently sized bags and cases. Even more impressive is the amount of passenger room. Four real-life British adults will fit in with absolutely no complaints – and they’ll all be comfortable, too.

All the engines are good, but arguably the 1.2-litre petrol is the sweetest. It revs keenly, responds quickly and is exceptionally quiet most of the time. In town it’s a gem, and while the 1.4-litre is pokier, it’s more expensive.

The full engine range at launch comprises 75PS and 84PS 1.2-litre and 100PS 1.4-litre petrol and 75PS 1.1-litre and 90PS 1.4-litre CRDi turbo diesels. the 1.4-litre petrol model is also offered with an automatic gearbox.

Thanks to quality damping, the i20 feels marvellously mature and stable, whether it’s tasked with a motorway or a series of tight bends. The steering on petrol models is surprisingly good, with a lovely, direct feel that weights up quickly but consistently. It’s unexpectedly good to drive even if you drive it like you stole it.

Exterior wind blast and air pressure changes can also have the effect of creating what sounds like wind noise at higher speeds, but is actually swirling air in the pipes. Turn the fan off and it disappears.

There’s a fair price jump from the loss-leading entry-level model to those that you’d actually buy.

SE trim has most of the bases covered, but lots of extra comfort and luxury tech makes Premium worth the stretch. Pair it with the 1.2-litre petrol engine and you’re on to a winner.

Hyundai is still a little behind the times on engine technology, but it’s set to bring out a turbo charged 1.0-litre petrol in the i20 this year. At the moment only the special eco-diesel falls below the 100g/km CO2 free road tax threshold, but the new engine will join it – for a price.

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