2014 Hyundai i20 Active review
Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Hyundai i20 Active review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a Nutshell Australia’s most popular light car, the Hyundai i20, is versatile, economical and strong on value. With one of the best warranty and customer care programs around, it’s a sound ownership proposition.
Practical Motoring says It’s not hard to see why the i20 is such a popular model. It’s priced well, beautifully finished inside and out and drives well enough to keep itself at the pointy end of the segment, despite the arrival of all-new players.
HYUNDAI HAD a stellar 2014, selling over 100,000 vehicles for the first time and finishing fourth in the sales race behind Toyota, Holden and Mazda. While Hyundai has recently dipped their toe in the luxury segment, with the introduction of the Genesis, its small and light cars have made its reputation.
The Hyundai i20, which replaced the evergreen Getz, was last year’s number one seller in the light car class, finding nearly 15,000 buyers, despite newer offerings from Mazda with the Mazda2 and Honda’s Jazz. More than that, the i20 we get here is now the old car, with a new model going on-sale in Europe late last year and no sign we’ll get the new version anytime soon.
The ‘Active’ is the entry-level i20 model and sports Hyundai’s signature face, with a narrow grille tapering into the swept-back headlights, and a large under bumper air intake. Along its flanks are a solid waist line and parallel lower body line that sweeps neatly into the rear wheel arches, an angled windscreen, slim pillars and large side glass that narrows slightly at the rear and turn indicators in the door mirrors. Large triangular lights and a big windowed hatch dominate the rear. Looking around the car, we noticed a couple of the panel gaps were a bit skewwhiff, but it felt solid and well built. It rode on 14-inch steel rims with plastic wheel covers and Kuhmo 175/70/14 tyres.
Inside there’s a lightly textured curvy dash top with a hooded instrument cowl and easy-to-read analogue gauges. A trip-computer and clock, illuminated in blue that’s hard to read in bright sunlight live in the centre dash and there are no remote controls on the tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
The silver dash facia has three circular HVAC controls and an impressively powerful audio system with a single CD, MP3 and bluetooth. Streaming music and pairing the phone was easy, though the microphone quality was poor according to callers. There are covered and open storage bins in the centre console along with two cupholders and a huge glovebox. The aircon worked a treat and kept the cabin nice and cool, despite the 40-degree temperature on the other side of the glass.
The cloth trimmed seats (60/40 split rear) are supportive with the driver’s pew offering a good range of fore, aft and height adjustment. Headroom is excellent in both rows and though the front legroom is good, the rear isn’t as spacious the Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris.
Overall, the i20 was pleasant to drive. The motor driven power steering, although light in its action delivered okay feedback at all speeds and the MacPherson strut (front), torsion beam (rear) suspension did a good job of dispensing all but the worst bumps and dips, providing a firm but comfortable ride.
Despite some body roll and the tyres protesting at times, the Hyundai engineers have done a good job in making the i20’s handling neutral and predictable, which made a long jaunt along country roads quite entertaining. It didn’t serve up any surprises and mid-corner road blemishes were capably dealt with. The only letdown was the constant tyre roar and road noise that intruded into the cabin. At times, it made in-car conversation difficult and it was not only annoying, it became tiresome.
A good dose of revs is needed to get the best out of the 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which makes 73.5kW (at 5,500rpm) 136Nm (at 4200rpm). Acceleration wasn’t brisk and it tended to run out of breath climbing hills. The cost-optional ($2000) four-speed auto (with overdrive) wasn’t particularly responsive and had a tendency to hang in high gears, refusing to drop to a lower gear until given a good prod on the throttle. Conversely, the disc brakes had a firm progressive feel.
Hyundai’s are renowned for their generous equipment levels and the i20, even in this Active guise, is fitted with a good spread of creature comforts like the impressive four-speaker, two tweeter, MP3/WMA/AM/FM audio system with bluetooth for phone and music streaming. The excellent aircon system that also chills the glovebox, vanity mirrors on both sun visors, power windows and mirrors, trip computer and rear wiper/washer.
On the safety front the i20 has six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, two ISOFIX anchor points, ESC with traction control, child safety door locks and ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. This all adds up to a five-star ANCAP safety rating
There’s little doubt one of the keys to the i20’s success is low running costs. We averaged 6.8 L/100km that included a lot of stop-start motoring and on the open road, it delivered diesel like fuel efficiency. Add to that a five-year unlimited warranty period with lifetime capped price servicing and 12 months roadside assist ensuring it will never be a burden on your hip pocket.