Hyundai i20 Active Review and Road Test

by under Review on 01 Jun 2011 05:33:12 PM01 Jun 2011
2011 HYUNDAI I20
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km

Good looks; stylish interior; lots of kit; nicely priced


Doesn’t match the best for ride/handling; a diesel option would be nice

Hyundai Getz is a tough act to follow. The compact Hyundai rounded-out 2010 as Australia’s best-selling compact car.

But now the focus has shifted to Hyundai’s newcomer – the German-designed i20.

Hyundai i20 Overview

The Hyundai i20 is the long-awaited new model compact hatchback which joins Hyundai’s acclaimed ‘i’ lineup (i30 small car, i45 mid-size sedan and ix35 compact SUV). Priced from $14,990 (Active three-door), Car Showroom tested the mid-spec Hyundai i20 Active five-door automatic which is stickered at $17,990. 


Really the ‘i’ models are the new face of Hyundai – world-class vehicles designed for sales success in all corners of the globe (not just home in Korea).

Highlighting up-to-the-minute styling, high-grade interior materials and excellent value, the Hyundai i20 dives into a pool populated with outstanding rivals and more than holds its own. If you’re shopping cars like Toyota Yaris, Mazda2 etc, this one must be in your consideration set, and if you’ve never previously considered a Hyundai, the i20 – like the i30, i45 and ix35 – this one will surprise you.

Hyundai i20 Engine

The Hyundai i20 Active as tested is powered by a 1.4-litre version of Hyundai’s competent ‘Gamma’ engine (the more expensive Elite and Premium models get 1.6-litre versions). It’s a thoroughly modern double overhead camshaft design with continuously variable valve timing. 


In 1.4-litre form, maximum power is 74kW at 5500rpm and peak torque is 136Nm at 4200 rpm. Fuel consumption for the four-speed automatic version we tested is rated at 8.4l/100kms (combined cycle).

We liked the responsiveness and refinement of the Hyundai i20 and the exhaust note was impressively sporty when pushed.

Hyundai i20 The Interior

Inside, the Hyundai i20 stamps a claim to be the best in the compact car segment – it’s spacious, well equipped, nicely finished with quality materials and the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach – a comfort feature not common in this league.

Gauges are conventional and nicely laid-out, we liked the up-market metallic look for the center console’s audio and climate control panel and the stylish gear lever surround. The Hyundai i20 Active model tested delivered a four-speaker CD entertainment system with USB/iPod connectivity and auxiliary input jack. 


The drivers’ seat is height adjustable and combines with the rake/telescopic adjustment of the sporty three-spoke steering wheel to deliver an excellent driving position.

Rear seat legroom is amongst the best in comparable compacts and the seat split-folds 60/40 to provide load-carrying versatility. Luggage capacity in the Hyundai i20 is 295-litres.

Hyundai i20 Exterior & Styling

That Hyundai is the world’s fastest-growing car company means a focus on global markets and tastes. The Hyundai i20 was created at Hyundai’s European styling studios in Russelsheim, Germany and was earmarked for sales success in Europe.

Thus it exudes world-class, contemporary small car looks. 


Frontal highlights include nice, modern ‘teardrop’ headlights and the current large air intakes with the upper grille handsomely trimmed in chrome to embrace the ‘H’ logo.

We especially like the side view with strong character lines flowing into modern fender flares.

At the rear, the Hyundai i20 again delivers all the design cues favoured by contemporary designers, highlighted by the ‘stacked’ taillight cluster.

Hyundai i20 On The Road

Nicely responsive and nicely balanced, the Hyundai i20 is altogether much better in the ride and handling department than the Getz. A lot more refined too.

While not quite as sharp as the segment benchmarks Ford Fiesta and Mazda2, the Hyundai i20 matches the best of the rest. Suspension is the currently favoured MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear. 


Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, we enjoyed the nice weighting of the power steering in the Hyundai i20 and grip levels were high. The 74kW/136Nm 1.4-litre was a competent powerplant which – like the Toyota Yaris and Mazda2 – would benefit from a five-speed automatic (as fitted to the Ford Fiesta and Honda Jazz) to better exploit its qualities.

Around town the Car Showroom team enjoyed the Hyundai i20 with its good all-round vision and handy 10.3-metre turning circle. And over Melbourne’s numerous tram and train track crossings, suspension noise and NVH was actually amongst the best in the segment.

Hyundai i20 Challenges

Ford has thrown down the challenge for players in this segment with Fiesta’s diesel option. Hyundai’s handy 1.6-litre turbo-diesel (available in the i30) would round out the stylish i20 lineup. 


And, as mentioned, a little more directness in the steering and sportier suspension calibration will bring the i20 to the front of the pack.

Hyundai i20 Verdict

The Hyundai i20 lives up to the expectations which circled since its international debut. Clearly Hyundai’s styling team is amongst the worlds best these days as this small car joins its i30, i45 and ix35 siblings as being great lookers inside and out.

And the 1.4-litre petrol engine has stepped up in refinement, fuel consumption and performance. 


When they call “Time” on the 2011 new car sales race, expect the Hyundai i20 to be one of the best sellers because it’s good and it’s sharply priced…a handy combination in any market segment.

Hyundai i20 The Competition

Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Honda Jazz, Nissan Micra are all outstanding new entrants in this segment. Toyota Yaris is also immensely popular and we’re expecting an all-new version this year.

More than any other segment, compact cars demand shopping around between dealers because there are some fabulous deals to be done at any time.

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