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Hyundai i20


Toyota Yaris

Summary

Hyundai i20

After we spent what felt like an eternity with the Hyundai i30 N being an only child in Australia, the lauded hot hatch is finally getting a smaller sibling, with the Korean brand confirming the i20 N will debut in Australia next year, likely in the first six months of 2021. 

On paper, at least, the city-sized hot hatch promises to deliver the performance thrills of the N brand to a whole new demographic, given its utterly family-proof dimensions and what will obviously be a more affordable price point.

But is it truly worthy of the N badge? We put an early prototype version to the test on the track to find out. 

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

Toyota Yaris

Have you ever heard the saying you can’t get something for nothing? It could have been written about this all-new, fourth-generation Yaris.

It’s bigger, far safer and more feature-filled than the ageing city car it replaces. It introduces hybrid powertrains for the first time, debuts safety systems never before seen in a city car, and rolls-out the long-awaited cabin technology that the last Yaris sorely missed.

 All of which is good news? The not so good news? You will be paying handsomely for all those changes. Yes, the new Yaris marks the end of the sub-$20k Toyota. And it ends it by some margin.

So does the value proposition still stack up? Or are you better off taking the never-smaller step up to the bigger Corolla.  Join us as we find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Hyundai i208/10

We'll reserve full judgement until we've lived with a production version of the i20 N, but after our short, track-based taste test? We like it a lot. 

Fun rather than ferocious, it's the kind of hot hatch you can have an absolute blast in without feeling like you're going to kill yourself or your licence, and you can't help but climb out smiling..


Toyota Yaris7.8/10

Very good in some areas, great in others, and with its serious safety credentials, the Yaris deserves to be a big seller for Toyota. But whether it's new pricing will get in the way of those ambitions remains the biggest question mark. 

Design

Hyundai i209/10

Again, this more an arbitrary score here, as the only i20 N we've seen to date was dropped in camouflage inside and out. 

That said, you can tell from its silhouette that this a wide, hunkered-down hatch, with bulging arches and 18-inch blacked-out alloys, a domed bonnet, and little roof spoiler jutting out from above the rear windscreen. 

Hyundai tells us the i20 N will also serve up a new air intake on front bumper, unique side sills, a new radiator grille, and a new rear bumper with a diffuser, as well as new rear lights. You can get the i20 N in seven colours, one of which will be the Performance Blue that's become the signature of the brand.

Inside, Hyundai says you'll find a "high-performance driving space" (whatever that means) with a host of N stuff, like a sports steering wheel and shifter, metal pedals, sport seats up front and blue highlights throughout the interior trimmings.


Toyota Yaris8/10

Short answer? I like it. The Yaris wears a shrunken version of Toyota's design language, a little like a Corolla's been shrunk in the wash. 

Like with any car, the more you spend, the better it looks, and the little Yaris looks its sharpest in top-spec ZR guise, with its 16-inch alloys and two-tone paint job (the black roof looks especially sharp against the electric blue paint job).

The blacked-out grille area looks a little like a grouper feeding, but for mine, it works, lending the Yaris a street-smart style that sets it apart in the city car segment, but I simply can't stomach steel wheels on a car that's north of $20k, which rules the entry-level model out, for me at least.

Step inside, and you're met with a quality-feeling interior, if one that lacks some creature comforts and soft-touch materials when you consider the price point. There is no shortage of hard plastics, and even the material that lines the doors in the top-spec models feels paper thin.

The view from the front seats especially is light-years ahead of the car it replaces, with the 7.0-inch colour screen and digital driver display dominating the view. The back, however, is fare more austere, where you'll find seats and... well that's about it. 

Practicality

Hyundai i207/10

Not particularly practical, to be fair. While Hyundai is yet to confirm the specification details of the i20 N, it is based on the brand's existing city car, so expect similar dimensions here. 

It does, though, have four doors, which puts it ahead of some of its hot-hatch competition, and means climbing into the backseat isn't as hard as it could be. Once there, though, you won't be spoiled for space.

For reference, the regular i20 serves up twin cupholders up front, and bottle storage in each of the doors.

That car also stretches some 4035mm in length, 1734mm in width and 1474mm in height. That's enough to squeeze 326 litres (VDA) into the boot, or 1042 litres with the 60:40 split rear seat folded flat. 


Toyota Yaris8/10

The new Yaris measures 3940mm in length, 1695mm in width and 1505mm in height, and rides on a 2550mm, making it a bigger car than the vehicle it replaces. It will also serve up some 270 litres (VDA) of luggage space with the 60:40 rear seats in place.

The extra room is a boon for rear passengers. I put the backseat to the test sitting behind my own 175cm-tall driving position, and I had more than enough knee and headroom to make me feel comfortable. Then for the ultimate test, I put CarsGuide's tallest scribe (and NBA star in another life) Richard Berry in the window seat alongside me, and we decided we could both travel in genuine comfort. 

There are ISOFX attachment points in each window seat in the back, and cupholders up front, but the backseat does lack cupholders, a pulldown seat divider, air vents or climate controls, USB ports or power outlets - there's not much of anything back there.

Front seat riders get a pair of cupholders, a single USB port and power outlet, and a deep, phone-sized storage bin in front of the gear shift.

Price and features

Hyundai i208/10

This is a tough one to answer, without yet knowing the pricing details. But Hyundai has told us that it will be priced on or around the money for the segment, which should see it land around the early $30k mark. 

That's about right, and if you take the Toyota GR Yaris out of the equation (which now starts around the mid-$40k mark), it puts the i20 N right in the city-sized hot hatch hunt. 

In terms of exactly what you get for that money, well, that remains to be seen. But here's what we know so far.

Expect 18-inch alloys wrapped in Pirelli rubber, a digital driver's display and a second, central touchscreen that will deliver both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote unlocking with push-button start, power windows, and...

Well, that's about all we could glean from our very camouflaged car. But you will also get a whole heap of performance kit, which we'll touch on under the Engine and Transmission section.

For everything else, though, you'll just have to watch this space.


Toyota Yaris6/10

Let’s get the tough stuff out of the way first: the new Yaris arrives in three trim levels - the Ascent Sport, SX and ZR - with the cheapest, manual-equipped vehicle costing $22,130, stretching to $32,100 for the most expensive, hybrid-powered ZR.

That marks an entry-point increase of almost $7000, with the former model’s cheapest offering being the $15,390 Ascent Manual - a price increase of more than 40 per cent.

An even tougher pill to swallow? The cheapest Corolla is the manual-equipped Ascent Sport, yours for $23,895 ($1765 more than the entry-level Yaris), and if hybrid is your bag, you can opt for the $27,395 Ascent Sport Hybrid - which means you can get an electrified Corolla for less money than an electrified Yaris. 

Anyway, let's unpack. The Yaris range kicks off with the Ascent Sport, which can be had with a manual transmission ($22,130), or with a CVT automatic $23,630.  

Outside, you get 15-inch steel wheels, halogen headlamps, LED DRLs and tail lights and rear fog lamps. Inside, you'll find fabric seats, manual air-con, a USB charge point and a 12v power outlet.

On the tech front, you'll find a 7.0-inch touchscreen inside with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a smaller 4.2-inch driver info screen. You'll also get a six-speaker stereo and DAB+ radio.

But it's on the safety front where the tiny Yaris really shines, with the brand boldly declaring it the world's safest city car. But we'll circle back to that under the Safety sub-heading.

The range then steps up to the SX, which can be had with the conventional petrol ($27,020), or with a hybrid powertrain ($29,020), which adds a lithium-ion battery and electric motor. The new hybrid system includes a pure EV driving mode, but Toyota is thus far unable to confirm now many electric-only kilometres it will deliver.

That extra spend also buys you navigation with live traffic, auto air-con, keyless entry and push-button start, a digital speedo, tachometer and hybrid use gauge, as well as a leather-accented wheel and better cabin materials. Outside, you get 15-inch alloys, LED headlights, privacy glass and silver exterior design elements.

Finally, you can opt for the top-spec ZR, available as a petrol ($30,100) or hybrid ($32,100). For that, you get optional two-tone paint, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler.

Inside, you get sport seats up front, paddle shifters for the non-hybrid model, and nicer interior design elements like piano black inserts and Y (for Yaris) embossed seats. You also get a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent parking system.

Engine & trans

Hyundai i209/10

I like the engine. A lot. Not the most powerful in the class, sure, but not underpowered in my opinion, either. 

The turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine (borrowed from the i30 sedan) produces 150kW and 275Nm, which pairs with a six-speed manual transmission and funnels power to the front tyres.

That's enough grunt, Hyundai says, to deliver a "class-leading" power to weight ratio of 126kW per tonne.

So how does it stack up? It puts the i20 N about a touch under segment standard, power-wise, with cars like the Polo GTI making 147kW and 320Nm, while the Fiesta ST makes 147 and 290kW. Unsurprisingly, it’s also comprehensively shaded by the Toyota GR Yaris, which makes a whopping 200kW and 370Nm.

We have managed to extract some other key details surrounding Hyundai’s newest hot hatch, too. We know, for example, that there’s torsion-beam rear suspension, a mechanical LSD, Sachs dampers, dual-mode exhaust and, like it’s i30 N big brother, the i20 N should get Pirelli rubber wrapped around its 18-inch wheels. It also weights just 1250kg.

More? Well there's rev matching for the manual gearbox, launch control and the brand's N Grin Control System which allows you to dial through Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom drive modes.

The chassis and suspension have been overhauled, too, and there's bigger performance brakes fitted.


Toyota Yaris7/10

The Yaris is offered with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine which will produce 88kW and 145Nm, paring with a six-speed manual transmission in the cheapest model or a CVT auto in the more expensive cars.

The hybrid system adds a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for a combined power output of 85kW (Toyota hasn't confirmed the torque figure), which suggests its running a de-tuned version of the 1.5-litre engine.

The new hybrid system includes a pure EV driving mode, but Toyota is thus far unable to confirm now many electric-only kilometres it will deliver.

Fuel consumption

Hyundai i207/10

That I can't tell you, at least not yet. We were driving pre-production cars exclusively on a race track, and so taking an computer reading would have been grossly unfair, and Hyundai hasn't dropped an official figure on us yet. 

We do know that the i20, in regular guise, is fitted with a 50-litre tank. 


Toyota Yaris9/10

The perks of a hybrid powertrain reveal themselves here, with the electrified Yaris reporting a claimed 3.3L/100km on the combined cycle, with 76g/km of C02. Petrol-powered cars (CVT) make 4.9L/100km and emit 114g/km of CO2.

Petrol vehicles are fitted with a 40-litre fuel tank, while hybrid cars make do with 36 litres.

Driving

Hyundai i209/10

How should the success of a city-sized hatch truly be measured? Raw power and out-and-out pace? I don’t think so. There are bigger, more powerful vehicles for that.

Price? Well, at least a little. This segment forms the stepping stone to the performance vehicle world, and so they really can’t be too inaccessible, right?

If you ask me, the biggest - and possible only - criteria a car has to hit in this segment is that it’s fun. Plain and simple. Does it make you want to take the longer, twister way home, emerging at the other end of a winding road with a face-splitting grin and fighting the urge to turn around and do it again in the other direction? Or does it make you want to stick to the freeway?

Well, it’s safe to say that in the i20 N - in prototype form at least - the answer is definitely the former. 

Yes, the light hot hatch segment has been in something a power arms race of late - one now won by the GR Yaris - but the i20 N doesn’t really step into that ring. Its 150kW and 275Nm puts it at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of pure outputs. 

But damn if it ain’t fun. The numbers on the page only really tell half the hot hatch story. The rest of it is how it feels, or how big a smile it paints on your face, and I can tell you this car painted a plenty big grin on mine.

One of the things I like about the i20 N is that it feels a little Mazda MX-5-like, in that you don’t need to be traveling at warp speed to feel like you’re having a good time behind the wheel. It means you can unleash it on any twisting road you come across, and have a whale of a time, without risking your entire driver's licence.

There are some cars where you really need to be travelling at pace to feel like you’re having a good time in them, but this isn’t one of them. It feels fun all the time. 

It feels really connected to the track, too, like you’re in control of the vehicle, And I think the mark of a hot hatch is one that makes you feel like a better driver, and this does that. It forgives you mistakes, it urges you to push a little bit faster, a little bit further, and all of which results in a pretty good time behind the wheel. 

Now a caveat, of course. This is a pre-prod car, and this test also took place on a race rack, so how this thing drives on the streets near your place, and what it's like to live with, is anyone’s guess, but as a taste test, it certainly seems to continue the N legacy of building cars that are simply a ton of fun.


Toyota Yaris7/10

It’s a tough nut to crack, the Yaris. Largely because the vehicle that appears to make the most sense from behind the wheel, also makes the least sense in a lot of ways, too.

We cycled through petrol-only and hybrid cars, and in my opinion, the electrified vehicles feel the most natural from the driver’s seat - and deliver the most of what you might be expecting from a vehicle touted by Toyota as a revolution in the city-car space.

While the petrol vehicle can feel a little thrashy and loud in the cabin under hard acceleration, the hybrid - which, given its combined power output is actually lower than that of the petrol-only vehicle, must be using a de-tuned version of the 1.5-litre engine - feels a smoother, more complete drive.

The extra weight, too (though only around 65kg or so) seems to help settle the ride, which, when combined with Toyota’s TNGA platform, delivers a car that feels fun and enthusiastic from behind the wheel, with a satisfying ride and steering that’s both easy and predicable.

All of which makes perfect sense. The part that doesn’t, though, is that you need to weigh those facts against the fact that, at either $29,020 or $32,100, you can own a bigger hybrid Corolla for less money. Hell, you can just about buy a hybrid RAV4. And given there’s not a lot of duds in the reborn Toyota’s line-up, that’s a tough financial pill to swallow.

All the things the hybrid models do well are performed a little less impressively in the petrol-powered cars. They remain fun, perky little city cars, but they don’t shift the needle in that segment, at least as far as dynamics go, in the way we perhaps expected them to.

The engine is a little louder and a little courser, and the ride a little more jumpy - the latter of which is a bigger complaint amongst my CarsGuide colleagues than it was for me, but I do like the feeling of being truly connected to the road below me, and am willing to make some comfort sacrifices as a result. 

All in all, it’s a very good offering from Toyota, with only the sky-high weight of our expectations, and its price, weighing against it. 

If you have a love of small, easy vehicles, there’s no doubt the Yaris will scratch that itch. It’s lightyears in front of the car it replaces, is surprisingly spacious and practical, and the tech and safety updates are a very welcome addition, the former of which - led by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - will genuinely transform your ownership experience.

Safety

Hyundai i207/10

More mysteries here, I'm afraid. Hyundai is yet to confirm full safety specification for the i20 N, but we would expect it to get most of the brand's advanced safety kit. 

The i30 N, for example, gets the brand's SmartSense safety suite, with forward collision warning with AEB and Lane Keep Assist, as well as the usual suite of airbags and braking and traction aids.


Toyota Yaris9/10

It's got to a high score here, given the Yaris debuts safety systems not seen in cars this size, or this price bracket. 

That story begins with eight airbags - including two front centre airbags, the only car in this segment to get them - and the usual suite of braking and traction aids.

Then the tech steps up, with Toyota's pre-collision safety system, which has AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as active cruise control, intersection turn assistance, lane trace assist with active steering, road-sign recognition and a reversing camera.

That's on all models too, with the top-spec ZR adding a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent parking system.

The new Yaris scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating

Ownership

Hyundai i208/10

The i20 N will be covered by Hyundai's full five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with service intervals and pricing yet to be confirmed.


Toyota Yaris8/10

The Yaris is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with the hybrid battery covered for 10 years.

Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000kms, with Toyota capping the price of each service for the first four years.