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Hyundai i20 Blue 1.4 CRDi 90PS Review

Sun, 29 Jan 2012

The Hyundai i20 Blue 1.4 CRDi 90PS

We have the Hyundai i20 Blue 1.4 CRDi 90PS in for review. Can Hyundai deliver a credible sub-100g/km car to take on Ford’s Fiesta Econetic?

Where do we start with the Hyundai i20 Blue?

The first thing to do is throw away your preconceptions; the Hyundai i20 is a very long way away from Hyundai’s earlier cars. It’s stylish – in a slightly generic, European sort of way – roomy and easy to drive.

The Hyundai i20 Blue is also remarkably cheap, but that’s cheap in a value-for-money way, rather than cheap in a cheap and nasty way. True, some of the trim may not quite match VW’s Polo or Ford’s Fiesta, but there’s nothing that makes you think the i20 is a compromise too far for the low sticker price.

This Hyundai i20 is Hyundai’s Eco-special, the ‘Blue-Badged’ (that’s Blue Badge Eco, not Blue Badge park anywhere) sub 100g/km special designed to deprive the revenue of their road fund license and Boris of his congestion charge. And if that’s high on your priority list, then the i20 Blue makes a lot of sense.

There’s nothing in the interior of the i20 Blue that either screams low-rent or eco-hair shirt; most of the plastics are decent quality and feel fine to the touch, and the switchgear is competent, even if it doesn’t have quite the feel of some rivals.

There’s plenty of space too, with a decent driving position easy to find almost regardless of your size (we had drivers from 5’ 3” to 6’ 3”) thanks to the steering wheel adjusting for rake and reach and a height adjustable seat, and even with a six-footer in the front you can fit a couple of normal-sized adults in the back. They won’t be sprawling in the endless room, but they will fit.

The seats are comfortable enough, even if the upholstery is not the most awe-inspiring you’ll ever find. But for a £13k eco-car they’re more than up to the competition. The ergonomics on the dash work well, there are steering wheel controls for audio and ‘phone, the HVAC controls are clear and intuitive, there’s a small digital display in the centre for trip information and everything falls easily to hand.

Despite the relatively budget price tag, the i20 Blue comes with decent equipment levels too. There’s electric windows all round, AirCon, Bluetooth (with voice recognition), split folding rear seats, a good size boot, Stop-Start, reasonable sound and decent connectivity, with both AUX and USB connections as well as the Bluetooth.

Interior of the Hyundai i20 Blue 1.4 CRDi 90PS

The 1.4 litre diesel engine under the bonnet of the i20 Blue isn’t going to set your hair on fire, but it does a good job of keeping up with traffic, thanks to a healthy charge forward as soon as the turbo kicks in and you’d be hard pushed to work out the i20 is an eco model; it feels no different.

Dynamically the i20 is far from shoddy. The ride is somewhere on the soft side of firm, but firm enough to feel happy chucking it in to a bend. The steering is light, and although it doesn’t have a huge amount of feel there’s enough to know where you’re pointing, and to do so easily and accurately.

The only drawback is a bit of noise from the engine. It’s not startling, but it is a bit rattly at tickover and still makes its presence felt even when cruising on a motorway. That said, the i20 Blue is happy to cruise at motorway speeds all day, with just a slight background whine and the need to change down a cog if you need to speed up in a hurry.

With a 0-62mph of 13.5 seconds and a top speed of 108mph, you might expect the i20 Blue to be a bit of a slug, but it’s not. It feels lively if you make a bit of effort; it is chuckable, in a ‘didn’t expect an eco-car to be that good’ kind of way, and it’s so well bolted together that nothing groans or moans, flexes or shimmies.

Somehow, the temptation when reaching a conclusion about the Hyundai i20i Blue is to concentrate on its cost, and that’s certainly a big part of its appeal; and appealing it is. At £13,345 (plus an extra £425 for metallic paint on our car) the i20 Blue is a sizeable chunk less than any other sub-100g/km car. Yet despite that the i20 Blue still conspires to offer a decent drive, plenty of room, lots of equipment and a cost of ownership that eclipses the opposition.

Cars like the Fiesta Zetec Econetic will cost you £1300 more and a Vauxhall Corsa Exclusiv 1.3CDTi ecoFlex £250 more than that. Throw in Hyundai’s 5 year Triple Care Package – which offers unlimited mileage, roadside assistance and annual health checks in the price – and the i20 is hard to beat.

But even against the competition when you ignore price, the i20 Blue is still a contender. Yes, we’d like to see a bit more feedback for the driver and some of the interior plastics and trim could do with being pushed up a notch. But the i20 is comfortable and easy to drive (voted the easiest car to drive of the last year by one of our drivers), looks good and should hold a decent chunk of its value.

Yes, we’d still opt for the Fiesta Econetic because it really is better all round, but the fact the Hyundai i20 Blue comes so close is testament to how far Hyundai has come in the last few years.

The Hyundai i20 Blue really is a very good little car.

(47 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

By Cars UK