The reliability of the Getz is translating into repeat sales for Hyundai’s i20 light car. Sales figures say the i20 hatch is the third-best vehicle in the class. It trails the Toyota Yaris and Mazda2 by a long way but is ahead of the Holden Barina, Suzuki Swift and Kia Rio.
And the five-year warranty can’t be the cause, given the Rio has the same deal, the option of three or five doors and better handling. That leaves the unlikely prospect of the fluidic design styling resonating more strongly with 3500 buyers than the Kia’s similar shape…or brand loyalty bolstering sales.
The Active 1.4-litre three-door manual costs $15,590 with a six-speed manual gearbox or $16,590 with an extra pair of doors. The base car runs on 14-inch steel rims and is equipped with discs all round.
The Mazda 2 and Yaris make do with five-speed transmissions and drum rear brakes at a cost of $15,790 and $14,990 respectively, though the Mazda is only sold as a five-door. Stablemate Kia sells the three-door Rio from $15,290.
Hyundai’s up-spec Elite variant is only sold as a five-door and adds $1000 to the Active’s price for two more speakers, inch-bigger alloy rims, a luggage net and multi-function steering wheel. The four-speed auto is a $2000 option.
An overhaul midway through last year improved fuel use to a claimed 5.3L/100km for the manual and the engine’s outputs are near the top of the class. The six-speed gearbox helps here and is a light shifter that is easy to find the cogs in, though I’d like more spring resistance on the move to fifth and sixth gear.
Inside the alloy-look centre console is easy to navigate and the default equipment includes a four-speaker sound system with USB and auxiliary connections, one-touch lane-change indicators and Bluetooth with media streaming.
Indicator lamps in the side mirrors make the refreshed i20 relatively easy to pick from the old one in profile. The redesigned front now boasts the latest corporate version of cool, with the grille tapering upwards towards the lights in place of the horizontal layout of the previous model.
The back bumper is new, too and gives the Hyundai a taut derriere without doing much to make it stand out from the raft of hatches in this segment. The driver’s seat is high, even on its lowest setting, giving the impression you’re sitting on, rather than in, the i20. Thankfully the wheel is reach and height adjustable.
A five-star rating makes the Hyundai a relatively safe bet. There are six airbags, seatbelt reminder lights for all seats and traction/stability control via four-channel ABS brakes. Dynamically, the i20 doesn’t do too much wrong in the first place, with easily corrected understeer if the car does turn into a corner too quickly.
This isn’t a hot hatch contest, which is why the i20 does well. It performs most functions slightly better than average and tops the package off with great fuel use. There are better handling and riding cars in this class but the i20 can hold its own in terms of everyday operation and ease of use.
The hatch is spacious enough to store the weekly groceries or a couple of small suitcases and interior space is on par for this segment. The engine isn’t too peaky, so it doesn’t have to be driven like abuzz-box and visibility is good all round.
The i20 is a modern, more refined take on the Getz that helped establish the South Korean company in Australia. As such, it is more about utility than entertainment. It’s a genuine all-rounder, content to be driven as a weekday commuter but still with enough cargo space and engine capacity to handle weekend trips to the beach.
The i20 is built in India but the design and engineering work was done at Hyundai’s German technical centre in Russelsheim.
Hyundai i20 Active three-door
Price: from $15,590
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
Resale: 53 per cent (three years, Glass’s Guide)
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Crash rating: five stars
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, TC, ESC
Engine: 1.4L four-cylinder, 73.5kW/136Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD
Dimensions: 4m (L), 1.71m (W), 1.49m (H)
Spare: full size
Thirst: 5.3L/100km, 126g/km CO2