The last Hyundai i20 offered tremendous value for money and strong fuel economy but it lacked a bit of style. The latest phase of Hyundai’s assault on the European manufacturers is intended to add a slice of desirability into the package with European designed models whilst maintaining the keen pricing and quality. The i20 is the latest product of this approach, so is it a success?
The styling is more confident and contemporary and Hyundai has succeeded in injecting a bit more visual interest. The interior is slightly less successful, it feels well built but lacks a bit of flair that the best in this class exhibit.
Where the Hyundai really excels is economy. The 1.1 litre three-cylinder diesel engine is very efficient in its own right and when combined with engine stop/start and a six-speed gearbox it provides exceptional efficiency. As a result, at launch it has the lowest CO2 emissions of any non-hybrid car.
To achieve the impressive fuel economy Hyundai has compromised on performance. With six gears it needs an extra gear change to hit 62 mph which means that it feels a bit quicker in gear than the numbers suggest but the Kia Rio manages to duck under 15 seconds without denting efficiency. In practice, performance is just the right side of acceptable.
The Hyundai i20 still offers great value and is a bit more interesting than before. The one fly in the ointment is the Kia Rio, and one significant difference between them is the warranties: the Hyundai gets a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty whilst the Kia gets a 7 year 100,000 mile warranty.