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2009 Hyundai i20 Review

Sat, 03 Jan 2009

Cars UK [rating:3.0]

Hyundai i20 - Euro styled Getz replacement

The Supermini segment is a very competitive one, and Hyundai has sold relatively well to date, based mainly on price. But how will it fair with the i20, which is much more Euro mainstream?

Well, price-wise it remains very competitive, with prices kicking off at a very modest £8k. And the little Hyundai is well equipped, with even the base versions getting aircon.

But can its stand up to the (more expensive) offerings from the likes of Ford?

The Getz, the i20′s predecessor, was not exactly renowned for the quality of its fit and finish. So it’s not going to be too difficult to improve on the very mediocre standards Hyundai has set. The Getz finished a pretty poor 55th in the JD Power Survey, with owners complaining about the styling and the poor quality of materials used, particularly on the inside.

Well equipped cabin - but a bit too cheap

The i20 is an improvement on the Getz, particularly on the exterior styling front, but the interior fixtures and fittings are still cheap to the eye and the touch. The cabin is not a great place to be, but I suppose the low headline price has to be achieved by keeping material costs down. But does it have to look cheap, as well as feel it?

But you have to give Hyundai their due – the i20 is pretty well equipped. Even the base models get aircon and electric windows, with another £800 or so bringing the ‘Comfort’ features such as ipod connector, 15″ alloys and electric mirrors. Throw another £900 at the car to get the range-topping Style, and you get bigger alloys, climate control, half leather and folding mirrors.

The i20 is a direct replacement for the Getz, which was not exactly a world beater on the road. Hyundai has spent serious money engineering this car in Europe, and it shows. Its all new platform is very much up to European standards, and anyone trading up from a Getz will feel like they’ve jumped in to a car from a different age. It’s almost as good as the old model Fiesta, but it’s quite a bit short of the class leader, the new Ford Fiesta.

Decent handling from the Hyundai i20

But the chassis is tight, and it handles well. There is a bit of understeer, particularly if you hustle, but nothing too drastic, and the grip levels are good. The standard stability control does a good job, and keeps the i20 under control even in wet conditions.

But the ride is a bit crashy-bashy, particularly over that bane of urban life, the speed bump (and it’s too narrow to straddle the mini-bumps as well), and it just lacks suppleness.

The diesel engine is undoubtedly the economy buy. But it is just not worth the saving. It will drive you mad in every day use. It is very unrefined, and very nosiy. Slow doesn’t cover it, although its better torque does make it just about acceptable around town. The choice is the 1.4 petrol, which is still economical (50mpg) but does at least feel reasonably lively. It can do the 0-60 sprint in around 11.5 seconds, and a bit over 110mph, so it’s up there with other cars in this class. And it is actually quite nice to drive.

Not surprisingly, the cheapest i20 to run is the 1.4 diesel. It offers an acceptable 74bhp and a quite astonishing 62mpg. But it is a pretty uninspiring engine; noisy and uncouth. But if out and out economy is your goal it is acceptable, if not inspiring.

Frugal diesel - but opt for the 1.4 petrol

The 1.4 petrol engined i20 is probably the best of the bunch, with 99bhp and a fairly lively turn of speed. But the economy drops to around 50mpg. Good, but could be better.

Depreciation on Hyundais has historically been fairly reasonable. Not up there with the class-leading VWs, but on a par with Ford. Expect to lose around 33% on the i20 in the first 3 years / 30,000 miles. Which when you take in to account the pretty low purchase price means around £18 a week in depreciation. Cheap motoring, by any standards.

The i20 is a big improvement over the Getz, make no mistake, It feels like a European supermini and is, at least in the 1.4 petrol version, a pretty good car. It’s economical, handles quite well and is very well equipped.

I suppose it all comes down to just how cheap you want your motoring to be. It’s fair to say that the new Ford Fiesta is the pick of the bunch in this sector, but the i20 undercuts the Fiesta by around £2,000 across the range. With running costs on a par with the Ford, it all comes down to purchase cost. Yes, a more than 20% differential in price is significant, and can’t be ignored. And the reality is that when you factor in borrowing costs and the extra purchase cost, the Fiesta will cost you an extra £1,000 over 3 years (about £6.50 a week).

So if you’re really stretching to buy a new supermini, then the i20 Hyundai 1.4 petrol is a decent buy. But if you can manage an extra £1 a day, buy the Fiesta. You won’t be sorry.

Cars UK Rating: [rating:3.0] Big improvement on the Getz, but it’s no Ford Fiesta

By Cars UK