Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatch
Price: $18,590 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 73kW/136Nm 1.4 4cyl petrol | 4spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.9 l/100km | tested: 8.4 l/100km
Both of those competitors have recently been refreshed or renewed, but the i20 must soldier on as-is for a while longer.
To see what the existing i20 offers we took the ‘peoples-choice’ model - the five door with automatic - to see how well it copes with the rigours of city commuting.
- Cloth seat trim.
- Four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth and aux inputs.
- Power windows and mirrors.
- Remote central locking.
- Cooled glovebox.
- Multi-function trip computer.
Inside you’ll find things are simple, the dashboard layout is basic, the instrument cluster is clean and clear, and the there’s a logical feel to the layout. Materials are mostly plastics, with a splash of silver to dress up the centre stack.
There’s good and bad inside - the fit of the glovebox lid on our tester was way off, yet the smooth feel of the ventilation controls felt pretty good.
Some plastics are robust, others more flimsy, and the lower dash attracted dirt like a magnet.
There is a reasonably generous amount of room inside. Up fron,t most frames will fit with ease but the flat and firm seats don’t offer a great deal of support.
In the rear there’s enough space for adults - its no limo but is possible to tote two friends with ease, and three with a few squabbles at the lack of width.
In a modern context, the head unit and audio system feel a bit behind the times. There is Bluetooth connectivity but it’s fussy to set up and use, and there are no steering wheel controls.
Behind the rear seats there’s 290 litres of cargo room, plus split-fold rear seats.
There’s also a generous glovebox, lidded console bin, moderate door-pockets, and a few small cup-holders dotted around the cabin.
ON THE ROAD
- 73kW/136Nm 1.4 4cyl petrol
- Four-speed automatic, front wheel drive.
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension
- Four-wheel disc brakes, vented front and solid rear.
- 14-inch steel wheels with full covers
To be fair the car tested here was box-fresh (only 200km on the odometer) so we’d expect to to free up a little with use.
Engine outputs measure 73.5kW at 5500rpm and 136Nm at 4200rpm, it’s that weedy torque figure that disappoints the most.
Fuel economy isn’t spectacular either. Hyundai claims 5.9 l/100km but the best we could muster was 8.4 l/100km.
Further enhancing the sluggish feel is the fairly basic four-speed automatic. Often slow to react, it doesn’t offer the kind of willing feel of newer six- and seven-speed gearboxes and will occasionally offer rough gear changes.
Refinement levels are quite good however, tyre rumble and wind noise are kept at acceptable levels, only the coarse engine sound provides any real disturbance. The need to push it often might make that a problem for some.
But ride comfort is a strong point.
Over some of Melbourne’s nastiest speed humps and cobblestone lanes the i20 kept things calm and controlled, barely bothering passengers.
To allow for that though, the handling isn’t exactly sharp. Steering is light and lacking in feel, there’s plenty of body roll, early understeer and soft feeling brakes.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 34.07 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Standard safety includes dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes including brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, and stability and traction control.
All seats feature adjustable head restraints and three point seatbelts, with load limiting pretensioners on the front belts. In the rear there’s three top-tether child anchorages and two ISOFIX mounting points.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There are plenty of options when it comes to this end of the market.
The Toyota Yaris is favoured by many for its reliability and resale, but there are very options in the Suzuki Swift, Honda Jazz and Mazda2 - all of which have been recently refreshed or replaced.
The Kia Rio, and even Hyundai’s own Accent are also worth a look. And, if there’s a few extra dollars available, the very refined Volkswagen Polo is also orth checking out.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
So just why is the i20 so popular?
Perhaps it's the reputation the i20 has built for being simple, honest and fuss-free. You don’t need to overthink it - just jump in and go.
If simple motoring, without the hassle of confusing option lists and complicated servicing regimes appeals to you, then the i20 fills that need succinctly.
But there are better buys available. If interior flexibility is what you’re after, check the Honda Jazz; for a more upmarket feel why not try a Mazda2?
At this end of the market, there is plenty of good value to be found and more on offer than just no-frills motoring.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- i20 Active 3door - 6spd manual, 1.4 petrol - $15,590
- i20 Active 5door - 6spd manual, 1.4 petrol - $16,590
- i20 Active 3door - 4spd auto, 1.4 petrol - $17,590
- i20 Elite 5door - 6spd manual, 1.4 petrol - $17,590
- i20 Active 5door - 4spd auto, 1.4 petrol - $18,590
- i20 Elite 5door - 4spd auto, 1.5 petrol - $19,590