2014 Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20 (2014) first drive review

2014 Hyundai i20

The all-new 2014 Hyundai i20 is now slicker, sleeker and more refined than ever – but starting from £10,695, does it still represent value for money?

Sean Carson | November 2014

Hyundai has been riding a massive wave of strong new products of late, having totally renewed its European range over the last five years. And that’s no mean feat.

Among others, it has the neat i30 hatchback and estate, and the slick seven-seat Santa Fe off-roader. Last year the i10 brought refinement to top the city car sector, and now it’s the turn of the new i20 supermini.

It has its work cut out though, as the small hatchback market is one of the most fiercely contested around. There’s the chuckable Ford Fiesta, the “all-new” Vauxhall Corsa, the upmarket VW Polo, the frugal and funky Renault Clio, the SEAT Ibiza, the spacious and practical Skoda Fabia, the Peugeot 208 – you get the point. If you’re after a supermini, a car to cover all bases, you’re spoilt for choice.

But the new i20 is spoiling for a fight, for it’s wading into battle with a decent spec sheet, a new chassis, more European styling and levels of practicality that wouldn’t see it outdone in the class above.

However, with prices starting from £10,695, others undercut the latest car. So does the 2014 Hyundai i20 offer enough in the way of the brand’s traditional value for money, or in an effort to move upmarket with the new car, has Hyundai distanced itself from its roots?

2014 Hyundai i20

What’s the 2014 Hyundai i20 like to drive? 

Composed and comfortable, is the best way to describe the i20. It’s not quite as sharp as the Fiesta, but the ride is taut and compliant with decent chassis and wheel control – although it does feel firmer in the back.

The i20 steers nicely, feels assured and planted and is nicely refined, highlighting the lengths Hyundai has gone to in terms of engineering. Choose the right engine and, on the cruise, it’s VW quiet.

It’s the diesels that are smoother and more hushed than the petrols, so we’d recommend plumping for one of the oil burners from launch (although there is a twist).

There are two on offer: a 75hp 1.1-litre three-cylinder and a 90hp 1.4-litre four-cylinder. The larger capacity unit has more punch, but both rev sweetly with engine noise nicely attenuated. If you’re going to be driving longer distances then we’d recommend the 1.4, but if you’ll spend most of your time around town then the 1.1 still has enough zip.

2014 Hyundai i20

Both are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that’s positive and light – exactly what you want in a supermini. You can even get a version of the 1.1 that emits just 84g/km CO2.

On the subject of emissions, and in contrast to the diesels, the 1.2-litre (available in 75 and 84hp guise) and 100hp 1.4-litre petrol engines on offer aren’t that efficient, emitting between 112 and 127g/km CO2 respectively.

They don’t feel that energetic either, with a flat sensation and little mid-range pull. Not that it particularly matters, but 0-62mph in the higher-powered 1.2 takes 13.1 seconds.

Driving naturally aspirated engines reminds you of just how good modern, small petrol turbo units are. The VW group has its 1.2 TSI, Ford has its 1.0 Ecoboost and, thankfully, next year Hyundai will get in on the act, too, with a new 1.0 turbo.

Here’s that twist – it’ll kick out either 100 or 120hp and could replace the 1.4 in the UK according to Hyundai. If you want a petrol-powered i20, our advice would be to wait until the 1.0 arrives.

2014 Hyundai i20

So, is the 2014 Hyundai i20 good value for money?

This is a basic supermini is entry-level £10,695 S trim, but you do get an acceptable if not bountiful level of kit. Highlights include lots of acronyms denoting electronic safety systems, electric front windows, six airbags, remote central locking and USB connectivity.

S Air spec at £11,445 adds air conditioning, S Blue (only available with the 88.3mpg 84g/km CO2 turbodiesel engine) gets stop-start and costs £12,445.

You’ll have to pay £12,725 for the i20 SE for a more realistic level of equipment, with 16-inch alloys, voice-activate Bluetooth, lane departure warning, all-round electric windows, parking sensors and cruise control with speed limiter fitted as standard. It’s here where the i20 range starts to make more sense.

2014 Hyundai i20

Another £1000 gets you automatic headlights and wipers, climate control, a smartphone docking station (for sat nav, although there will be an integrated touchscreen option) and a tyre pressure monitor among other things on the SE trim.

At the top of the tree is the £14,725 i20 SE Premium, which alongside everything else gets front parking sensors, heated seats and steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof.

Hyundai claims class-leading levels of space thanks to a 45mm longer wheelbase over its predecessor, and we have to say, along with the new Skoda Fabia, the new second-gen i20 is the roomiest supermini on sale.

It’s not come at the expense of boot space, either. Opt for one of the lower three models and there’s 326 litres of luggage room on offer – the variable height boot floor means it’s only marginally less voluminous on higher spec cars.

The cockpit design is slick. It’s not the most tactile interior around (there are still some budget bin plastics in place), but there are some soft-touch surfaces. It’s a marked improvement and the more premium image inside fits with the smarter exterior aesthetics.

2014 Hyundai i20

A five-year unlimited mileage warranty shouldn’t be overlooked, either. That’s a chunk of value right there. True, it’s not exactly a budget brand any more, but neither is Skoda, and it’s new Fabia starts from a similar £10,600.

MR verdict: 2014 Hyundai i20

Like Skoda, Hyundai is looking to retain its customers with an improved car that’s still reasonably priced while attracting a new group of buyers thanks to the more premium look inside and out. 

Fundamentally this is a formula that works, and with decent refinement allied to a more premium image than ever, it’s a solid effort from Hyundai that’s yet another step in the right direction. It’s not enough to topple the Ford Fiesta, though.

Rivals: Hyundai i20

  1. Ford Fiesta
  2. Renault Clio
  3. Skoda Fabia
  4. Vauxhall Corsa
  5. Volkswagen Polo 

The Ford Fiesta has been the UK’s best-selling supermini for years now, thanks to a blend of looks, ability tech and price. The Hyundai i20 might find it hard to dethrone this particular car. It’s arguably more premium than the Clio though, and just as refined – it also has the spaciousness of the Skoda inside and a similar sized boot to, er, boot. Vauxhall’s Corsa might beat the i20 on price, but you don’t get much for your money compared to the Hyundai, while the i20’s level of refinement is enough to match the Polo.

Specification: Hyundai i20

Engine: 1.2, 1.4 petrol, 1.1, 1.4 turbodiesel

Gearbox: Five/six-speed manual

Price from: £10,695

Power: 75 – 100hp

Torque: 90 – 177lb ft

0-62mph: 11.6 – 16.0 seconds

Top speed: 114mph

MPG: 42.2 – 88.3

CO2: 84 – 155g/km

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Hyundai i20 (2014)
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