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Hyundai i20 2011 Review


Shopping trolleys aren't renowned for steering, ride quality or comfort or features. Neither are the cars that share - rather unkindly - the title, but recent offerings have raised the bar.

Ford and Mazda contribute models that show dynamics aren't beyond the reach of light car buyers. Hyundai's i20, the Indian-built five-door hatch model, certainly looks better than the company's previous efforts. It's teen-priced A-to-B transport - a little hatch that's all about ...


The i20 we've been piloting is the 1.4-litre five-door Active manual, the entry-level five-door priced from $16,490.

For that, the features list is surprisingly good - automatic (just after take-off) remote central door locking, an alarm, two-way adjustable steering, airconditioning, a 60/40 split-fold rear seat and a four-spear sound system with 3.5mm auxiliary jack and a USB port. The sound system also offers a Bluetooth phone link, something many cars twice the price have yet to manage.


This end of the market isn't going to offer high-end technology like night vision or active cruise control, but the safety list below and the aforementioned connectivity will appeal to the younger first-car buyers who are shopping in this segment.

The i20 didn't like to have the iPhone plugged in to the USB, refusing to acknowledge the presence of a music player within the phone - it's not the only car to baulk at the double-act either.


It's a little shopping trolley so it's not going to set new standards for exterior design, but it shows more flair than the little box that i20 is replacing - the Getz. The cabin is on the plasticky side - but we're south of $20,000 so that's to be expected - but overall it's not an unpleasant interior.

There's storage pockets for all sorts of paraphernalia and - even for a driver at 191cm and broad - it's reasonably comfortable cabin, although the bar across the base of the driver's backrest made its presence known and detracted from the seat comfort. Bootspace at 295 litres is good enough to take a folded stroller and baby bag, which is something a couple of contenders in the (larger) small car market could not manage due to restricted load bay width.


Slowly this is becoming more of a selling point and Hyundai - which previously offered viable safety option packs not tied to upgraded trim or features - have put useful levels of safety in the i20, with cars since September last year getting six airbags, making it one of the cheapest five-star NCAP cars available.

The safety features list now has traction and stability control (something absent from the standard features list for much of its opposition), dual front and front-side airbags, full-length curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes.


A little prettier than the some of the reps in this segment, it falls short of knocking the Fiesta out but could match the Yaris for aesthetics. We're in the manual, which has only an average shift action and a light and dead clutch pedal - if it were our long-term test car there would be a risk of regular over-revving which would mean a short clutch lifespan.

The three-door i20 was a Carsguide COTY finalist last year and impressed with its honest efforts and the four-door has carried on that theme. The engine works hard but is no sparkler - there's little to like about the noise when it's called on to work hard, or the outputs. It can be kept humming with the manual gearbox to maintain a reasonable rate of knots within traffic - but anyone looking for an automatic would definitely need to head for the 1.6.

The ride quality is on the poor side, particularly on the smaller bumps and ruts, the blame for which can perhaps be attributed to the tyres. The suspension isn't heavily skewed towards handling either - the ride quality is acceptable without shining and a little more localisation is needed. The driver's seat was marred by a cross-bar that sat at near the base of the backrest, which detracted from an otherwise comfortable seat.


As a suburban get-about, the i20 gets reasonable space, class-leading safety gear and a decent number of features for the asking price; dynamically it falls short of the class yardsticks from Ford and Mazda but as A to B transport it more than does the job.


Price: $16,490
Warranty: 5 years, unlimited kilometre 
Resale: 61%
Service interval: 15,000km or 12-months
Economy: 6 l/100km; 142g/km co2, tank 45 litres
Safety: Six airbags, stability control, ABS & EBD.
Crash rating: 5 star
Engine: 73kw/136Nm 1.4-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder
Transmission: five speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body: 5-door, 5 seats
Dimensions: 3940mm (l); 1710mm (w); 1490mm (h); 2525m (wb)
Weight: 1117kg
Tyre size: 185/60R15 steel
Spare: tyre full size

Pricing guides

Based on 120 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

Active 1.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,000 – 5,170 2011 Hyundai I20 2011 Active Pricing and Specs
Elite 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,700 – 6,050 2011 Hyundai I20 2011 Elite Pricing and Specs
Premium 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,000 – 7,810 2011 Hyundai I20 2011 Premium Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist