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Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video

Published:22 October 2008

Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
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London motor show video

Hyundai is brimming with confidence over its new i20 supermini. The firm asked buyers of the Getz – the model the i20 replaces – what they didn’t like about their car. Unsurprisingly, the wallowy handling, stodgy steering and noisy ride all featured. With the i20, Hyundai reckons it’s gone a long way towards righting those wrongs, hence its buoyancy.

Hyundai didn’t exactly forge new frontiers when they produced the Getz. Is the i20 any different?

Unlike the Korean designed and engineered Getz, the i20 has been conceived and developed at the firm’s Euro HQ in Germany. It’s longer, lower and wider than the Getz and has a far more modern, understandably European appearance. It’s not striking like the new Ford Fiesta but it can certainly hold its head up against the likes of the Mazda 2, Seat Ibiza and Vauxhall Corsa.

Those are the looks. How does it fare elsewhere?

In build quality terms, it continues the recent Korean trend of high quality. Even though the cars we tested were pre-production models, panel gaps were tight and the interior was well finished too.

The i20 will be built in India and the technology in Hyundai’s factories there doesn’t allow it to use some of the soft touch plastics the company would have liked. But the scratchy stuff has been kept to a minimum. The dash won’t win awards for originality but the buttons are clear and it’s unlikely to date dramatically.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to watch Hyundai's uneditted footage of the i20

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Hyundai i20 first drive  

London motor show video

Presumably it’s still being sold on the budget ticket though...

Oh yes. And Hyundai will be pushing its equipment levels compared to rivals. The firm reckons that its £8000 starting price will make it about a grand cheaper than the Fiesta and Corsa when you take the kit into account. Even standard ‘Classic’ models get air-conditioning, electric front windows, a CD and MP3 compatible audio system and an aux-in for MP3 players.

Sounds good but what’s it like to drive?

The driving position is easily adjustable, and on the high side, so visibility is excellent, the seats comfortable and the controls light yet positive. Hyundai has switched to an exclusively electric power steering set up for the i20. It’s accurate, if a little keen to self centre and weights up nicely at speed while the lack of body roll means the car has a composure through corners that’s the stuff of fantasy for Getz owners.

On the straight and narrow it’s not quite so impressive. Even small bumps are transmitted through the suspension – MacPherson struts at the front, torsion beam at the rear – into the cabin, which makes longer journeys a little wearing. Hyundai says a planned change of tyres from the Kumhos we tested should improve things.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to watch Hyundai's uneditted footage of the i20

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Hyundai i20 first drive  

London motor show video

And the engines?

The 1.2 Kappa engine is peppy, and if you work it hard will reward you with a 12.9 second 0-60 time. There will also be a 1.4-litre diesel with either 75 or 90bhp. Both are tuned for minimum emissions, maximum economy so the 90bhp version we tried never feels overly endowed with grunt. Neither is it particularly refined with noticeable diesel clatter on the overrun and vibration permeating the cabin at idle. But think of the 116g/km and the £35 per year road tax and you’ll be able to live with it.

Verdict

The average age of Getz owners is 52. By targeting older ‘empty nesters’, young drivers and families looking for a second car, Hyundai is hoping to reduce it to 45. The younger end of that will appreciate its more composed handling; the older folk may find its ride a little too harsh. What both age groups will get is a well-built car with a functional and spacious cabin (a six footer can sit behind another six footer), and it’s impossible to ignore that standard equipment list.

Scroll down the page to the embedded player below to watch Hyundai's uneditted footage of the i20

Is the Hyundai i20's price and generous enough to convince you - click 'Add your comment' below and have your say   

Specs

Price when new: £9,500
On sale in the UK: January 2009
Engine: 1396cc 4cyl turbodiesel, 90bhp @ 4000rpm, 162lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 13.6sec 0-62mph, 107mph, 64.2mpg, 116g/km
Weight / material: 1127kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 3940/1710/1490

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  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
  • Hyundai i20 (2008) CAR review and video
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