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Ford Focus

Hyundai i20


Ford Focus

Ford's small hatch, the Focus, is criminally under-bought in Australia. The latest model is  one of the best hatchbacks on the road and when you chuck in the decent price, impressive equipment and absurdly powerful engine for its size, it's a winner.

But you lot? You don't buy it in nearly the kinds of numbers it deserves. Partly because there isn't a bait-and-upsell boggo model to lure you in, partly because it's got a badge that is not exciting Australians any more and partly because it's not a compact SUV.

Or is(n't) it? Because alongside the ST-Line warm hatch is the identically priced and therefore technically a co-entry level model; the Focus Active. Slightly higher, with plastic cladding, drive modes and a conspicuous L on the transmission shifter, it's a little bit SUV, right?

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Hyundai i20

Start occupying the top step of the World Rally Championship podium and the brand benefits are huge. Just ask Audi, Ford, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and the many others which have done exactly that to great effect over the years.

And Hyundai’s most recent foray into the WRC has focused on the compact i20, and here we have that rally weapon’s civilian offspring, the much-anticipated i20 N.

It’s a lightweight, high-tech, city-sized, hot hatch designed to steer you away from Ford’s Fiesta ST or VW’s Polo GTI, and add even more lustre to Hyundai’s N performance badge. 

Read more Hyundai reviews

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating5 seats


Ford Focus7.4/10

Ten years ago, the idea that the higher-riding version of a hatchback would be a good city car would have been laughable. The Focus Active is pitched as a kind of SUV with its different low-grip driving modes, which you'll never touch if you stick to the city.

The Ford Focus is genuinely a brilliant car, no matter where you take it. The Active takes a terrific chassis, tweaks it for comfort but, ironically, doesn't lose much of the speed.

Hyundai i208.4/10

The i20 N hatch is so much fun, and not in a special occasion kind of way. It’s an affordable, compact performance car that’ll put a smile on your face no matter where or when you drive it. The Fiesta ST and Polo GTI have a worthy new playmate. I love it!


Ford Focus

For a fairly conservative hatchback, the Focus came under fire for what some termed its derivative styling. I quite like it, and not just because the styling work was led by an Australian. The front end is very much family Ford, as long as it's the European arm of the family, fitting in with its smaller sibling, the Fiesta. The Active scores the usual black cladding, higher ride height and smaller diameter wheels, in exchange for more compliant, higher-profile tyres. All of that takes nothing away from a design that I think looks pretty good.

The cabin is well put together, with just that oddly angled touchscreen causing me a bit of a twitch. The design is a fairly steady Ford interior with a lot of switchgear shared with the Fiesta, but it's all quite nice. The materials feel mostly pleasant  and the hardwearing fabric on the seats feels right for this kind of car.

Hyundai i208/10

Hyundai’s current WRC challenger may be a coupe but this angry little five-door hatch absolutely looks the part.

We’re assured the N is the only current-generation i20 we’ll see in the Aussie market, and it runs with a relatively low (101mm) ground clearance, a grille pattern inspired by a chequered flag, black mirror shells, and menacing, angular LED headlights.

The ‘Satin Grey’ 18-inch alloys are unique to this car, as are the side skirts, raised rear spoiler, darkened LED tail-lights, a ‘sort-of’ diffuser under the rear bumper and a single fat exhaust exiting on the right-hand side.

There are three standard paint options - ‘Polar White’, ‘Sleek Silver’, and N’s signature shade of ‘Performance Blue’ (as per our test car) as well as two premium shades - ‘Dragon Red’, and ‘Phantom Black’ (+$495). A contrasting Phantom Black roof adds $1000.

Inside, the N-branded sports seats, trimmed in black cloth, featuring integrated headrests and blue contrast stitching, are unique to the i20 N. There’s a leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, handbrake lever and gear knob, as well as metal finishers on the pedals.

The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and same-sized multimedia screen look slick, and ambient lighting heightens the hi-tech mood.


Ford Focus

The Focus is quite roomy compared to other cars in its class. The rear seat has good leg and headroom, with the feeling of space accentuated by large windows. Annoyingly, though, all that work put into making the rear a nice place to be is ruined by a lack of amenities like cupholders, USB ports or an armrest. 

Front-seat passengers fare better with two cupholders, a roomy space at the base of the console for a phone and a wireless-charging pad. The front seats are very comfortable, too.

The boot starts at a fairly average 375 litres - clearly sacrificed for rear-seat space - and maxes out at 1320 litres with the seats down. While you have to lift things over the loading lip and down into the boot, it's one of the more sensibly shaped load areas, with straight up and down sides. Ironically, the smaller Puma has a noticeably larger boot.

Hyundai i209/10

Although it’s just 4.1m long, the i20N is impressively space efficient with decent room up front and a surprising amount of head and legroom in the back.

Sitting behind the driver's seat, set for my 183cm position, I had plenty of head and legroom, although, understandably, three people across the back will need to be kids or understanding adults, on a short journey.

And there are plenty of storage and power options, including the wireless device charge pad in front of the gear lever, which doubles as an oddments tray when not in use, two cupholders in the front centre console, door bins with room for large bottles, a modest glove box and a lidded cubby/armrest between the front seats.

No armrest or air vents in the back, but there are map pockets on the front seat backs, and again, bins in the doors with room for bottles

There is a media USB-A socket and another for charging, as well as a 12V outlet in the front, and another USB-A power socket in the back. Hyundai suggests the latter could be handy for powering track day cameras. Great idea!

Boot space is impressive for such a compact hatch. With the rear seats upright there’s 310 litres (VDA) available. Fold the 60/40 split-folding rear backrest and no less than 1123 litres opens up.

A dual-height floor can be flat for long stuff, or deep for tall stuff, there are bag hooks provided, four tie down anchors, and a luggage net included. The spare is a space saver.

Price and features

Ford Focus

The Focus Active wears a $30,990 sticker but the several people I know who  bought one haven't paid that much, so Ford dealers are obviously keen to do deals. Even at that price, it's got a fair bit of stuff. The Active has 17-inch wheels, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto LED headlights, LED fog lights, sat nav, auto wipers, wireless hotspot, powered and heated folding door mirrors, wireless phone charging, a big safety package and a space-saver spare.

Ford's SYNC3 comes up on the 8.0-inch screen perched on the dashboard, which weirdly feels like it's facing away from you slightly. It has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, DAB+ and also looks after various functions in the car.

The panoramic sunroof is a stiff $2000 and includes an annoying perforated cover rather than a solid one.

Hyundai i208/10

At $32,490, before on-road costs, the i20 N is to all intents and purposes the same price as Ford’s Fiesta ST ($32,290), and the VW Polo GTI ($32,890).

It’s offered in one spec only, and aside from the standard safety and performance tech, this new hot Hunday boasts a solid standard features list, including: climate control, LED headlights, tail-lights, daytime running lights and fog lights, 18-inch alloys, Bose audio with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and digital radio, cruise control, nav (with live traffic updates), rear privacy glass, keyless entry and start (as well as remote start), sports front seats, the leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, handbrake lever and gear knob, alloy-faced pedals, auto rain-sensing wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors, plus 15W Qi wireless smartphone charging.

There’s more, like the 10.25-inch ‘N Supervision’ digital instrument cluster, plus a same-size multimedia touchscreen in the centre of the dash, a track maps feature (Sydney Motorsport Park is already in there), as well as an acceleration timer, g-force meter, plus power, engine temperature, turbo boost, brake pressure and throttle gauges. 

You get the idea, and it goes toe-to-toe with the Fiesta ST and Polo GTI.

Engine & trans

Ford Focus

Ford does an excellent range of small turbo engines. The "normal" Focus range (such as it is, now the wagon has disappeared from the market) comes with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Bucking the SUV-this-size trend (yes, I know it's not really an SUV), this punchy little unit delivers an impressive 134kW and 240Nm. They're both very decent numbers for such a small engine.

The big numbers continue with the transmission boasting eight gears, a number you don't often find in a hatchback. It's a traditional torque-converter auto, too, so those of you who have bad memories of Ford's old PowerShift twin clutches should worry no more.

Power goes to the front wheels only and you'll get from 0 to 100km/h in 8.7 seconds.

Hyundai i209/10

The i20 N is powered by a turbo intercooled 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and Torsen-type mechanical limited slip differential.

The all-alloy (G4FP) engine features high-pressure direct-injection and an overboost function, producing 150kW from 5500-6000rpm, and 275Nm from 1750-4500rpm (rising to 304Nm on overboost at max throttle from 2000-4000rpm).

And the engine’s mechanical ‘Continuously Variable Valve Duration’ set-up is something of a breakthrough. In fact, Hyundai claims it as a world’s first for a production engine.

Not timing, not lift, but variable duration of valve opening (managed independently of timing and lift), to strike the optimal balance between power and economy across the rev range.

Fuel consumption

Ford Focus

Ford's official testing for the big window sticker delivered a 6.4L/100km result on the combined cycle. In my time with the Focus, I got 7.2L/100km indicated on the dashboard, which is a pretty solid result given the Focus spent a good deal of the time on suburban or urban roads.

With its 52-litre tank, you'll cover around 800km if you manage the official figure, or just over 700km on my figures.

Hyundai i208/10

Hyundai’s official fuel economy figure for the i20 N, on the ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban cycle, is 6.9L/100km, the 1.6-litre four emitting 157g/km of C02 in the process.

Stop/start is standard, and we saw a dash-indicated average of 7.1L/100km over several hundred km of city, B-road and freeway running on the occasionally ‘spirited’  launch drive.

You’ll need 40 litres of ‘standard’ 91 RON unleaded to brim the tank, which translates to a range of 580km using the official figure and 563 kays using our launch test drive number.


Ford Focus

Despite the very mild off-road pretensions, if it's a comfortable city ride you're after, the Active is the Focus to have. While the ST-Line isn't uncomfortable - not by a long way - the Active's more compliant tyres and higher ride height (30mm at the front and 34mm at the rear) iron out the bigger bumps without sacrificing much of the sportier car's impressive dynamic prowess, even with the low-rolling-resistance tyres.

The cracking 1.5-litre turbo is responsive and well-matched to the eight-speed auto. The big torque number pushes you along the road and makes overtaking much less dramatic than a 1.5-litre three-cylinder has any right to. 

Ford's trademark Euro-tuned quick steering is also along for the ride, making darting in and out of gaps a quick roll of the wrist, which has the added benefit of meaning you rarely have to take your hands off the wheel for twirling. That darting is aided and abetted by the engine and gearbox, with the turbo seemingly keeping the boost flowing with little lag. It's almost like they planned it that way.

You have good vision in all directions, which almost renders the fact that the blind-spot monitoring is optional acceptable. Almost. It's very easy to get around in, easy to park and, just as importantly, easy to get in and out of. Compared to, say, a Toyota Corolla, the rear doors are very accommodating. 

Hyundai i209/10

Unusually for a manual car, the i20 N features a launch control system (with an adjustable rpm setting), which we found fiddly to get working, but with or without it, Hyundai claims a snappy 0-100km/h time of 6.7sec.

And it’s such a pleasure to steer a car with a slick-shifting manual gearbox. The six-speed unit features a rev-matching function accessed via the press of a racy red button on the steering wheel. 

Buf for those who prefer an old-school, double-shuffle, heal-and-toe tap dance across the pedals, the relationship between the brake and accelerator is perfect. 

And if you’re keen on Walter Rohrl-style left-foot braking, to help steady the car or steer it in fast cornering, the ESC is switchable through to Sport mode or completely off, allowing fuss-free simultaneous brake and throttle application.

There’s even a shift-timing indicator near the top of the instrument cluster, with colour bars closing in on each other as the tacho needle pushes towards the rev limiter. Fun.

Engine and exhaust noise is a combination of a raspy induction note and adjustable crackle and pop out the back, courtesy of a mechanical flap in the exhaust system, adjustable through three settings in N mode.

Traditionalists may not be thrilled by the addition of in-cabin synthetic enhancement of all of the above, but the net effect is thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s worth remembering in this context N stands for Namyang, Hyundai’s sprawling proving ground south of Seoul where the car was developed, and the Nürburgring where this go-fast i20 was fine-tuned.

The body has been specifically reinforced at 12 key points, along with additional welds, and “bolt-in underbody structures” to make the i20 N stiffer and more responsive.

The strut front, coupled (dual) torsion beam rear suspension has also been set up with increased (neg) camber and a revised anti-roll bar at the front, as well as specific springs, shocks and bushings.

A compact, mechanical LSD is added to the mix, and grippy 215/40 x 18 Pirelli P-Zero rubber was produced specifically for the car and is stamped ‘HN’ for Hyundai N. Impressive.

The end result is outstanding. Low-speed ride is firm, with suburban bumps and lumps making their presence felt, but that’s what you’re signing on for in a hot hatch at this price point.

This car feels balanced and well buttoned down. Power delivery is agreeably linear and at a fraction over 1.2 tonnes the i20 N is light, responsive and nimble. Mid-range urge is strong.

Steering feel is good, with assistance from a column-mounted motor taking nothing away from an intimate connection with the front tyres.

The sports front seats proved grippy and comfortable over long stints behind the wheel, and playing with the multiple N drive modes tweaking the engine, ESC, exhaust, and steering just adds to the involvement. There are twin N switches on the wheel for quick access to custom set-ups.   

And that Torsen LSD is brilliant. I tried my best to provoke a spinning inside front wheel on the exit of tight corners, but the i20 N just puts its power down without so much as a chirp, as it rockets towards the next bend.

The brakes are 320mm vented at the front and 262mm solid at the rear. Calipers are single piston, but they’ve been beefed up and fitted with high-friction pads. The master cylinder is bigger than the standard i20 and the front rotors are cooled by lower control arm mounted air guides blowing through vented knuckles.

The launch i20 N fleet of around half a dozen cars copped an hours long hot lap pounding at Wakefield Park Raceway, near Goulburn NSW without drama. They’re well up to the task. 

One niggle is a large turning circle. The data sheet says 10.5m but it feels like the car is carving a wide arc in U-turns or three-point turns.

A 2580mm wheelbase between the bumpers of a 4075mm car is substantial, and the steering’s relatively low gearing (2.2 turns lock-to-lock) no doubt has a lot to do with it. The price you pay for quick turn-in.


Ford Focus

The Active has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (low speed with pedestrian avoidance and highway speeds), forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, speed-sign recognition and active lane-keep assist.

Annoyingly - and I can't for the life of me work out why this is a thing - despite some advanced safety features in the base package, you have to pay $1250 extra for blind-spot monitoring, reverse cross traffic alert and reverse AEB, which are part of the Driver Assistance Pack. No, Ford is not the only company to do this.

The back seat has two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors.

The Focus scored five ANCAP stars in August 2019.

Hyundai i208/10

Although it hasn’t been assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, the headline on active safety tech in the i20N is the inclusion of ‘Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist’, which is Hyundai-speak for AEB (city and urban speed with pedestrian detection).

And from there it’s assist city, with ‘Lane Keeping Assist’, ‘Lane Following Assist’, ‘High Beam Assist’, and ‘Intelligent Speed Limit Assist.’

Followed by all the warnings: ‘Blind Spot Collision Warning’, ‘Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning’, ‘Driver Attention Warning’, and ‘Parking Distance Warning’ (front and rear).

The i20 N also features a tyre pressure monitoring system and a reversing camera. But if, despite all that, a crash is unavoidable there are six airbags on-board - driver and front passenger front and side (thorax), and side curtain - as well as three top tether points and two ISOFIX locations across the back row for child seats.


Ford Focus

Ford offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and a roadside-assistance package that consists of a membership to your local motoring organisation. 

The first five services cost $299 each and also include a free loan car and a 12-month extension to your roadside assist membership for up to seven years.

Hyundai i208/10

Hyundai covers the i20 N with a five year/unlimited km warranty, and the ‘iCare’ program includes a ‘Lifetime Service Plan’, as well as 12 months 24/7 roadside assist and an annual sat nav map update (the latter two renewed free-of-charge each year, up to 10 years, if the car is serviced at an authorised Hyundai dealer).

Maintenance is scheduled every 12-months/10,000km (whichever comes first) and there’s a pre-paid option which means you can lock in prices and/or fold service costs into your finance package.

Owners also have access to the ‘myHyundai’ online portal providing details on the car’s operation and features as well special offers and customer support.

Service for the i20 N will set you back $309 for each of the first five years, which is competitive for a hot hatch in this part of the market.