2020 Hyundai i20 petrol, diesel & turbo-petrol hatchbacks in CarToq’s first drive review

With the launch of the all-new i20 earlier this month, Hyundai created a few ripples, especially with its price. Starting at Rs 6.79 lakh, the base model of the Hyundai i20 is about Rs 1.2 lakh more expensive than the base Baleno and about Rs 1.5 lakh more expensive than the base Altroz. However, there is a list of features that the all-new i20 offers and you would not find it any other car in the segment. Does that justify the price? Is the all-new i20 remains “Elite” enough? Here are your answers.

Cut by razors

Hyundai has moved on from the “Fluidic Design” to a new era of “Sensuous Sportiness” and that shows in the design of its cars. It is a drastic change and a major leap. We loved the front design of the car the most. The nose is designed with a dip, which makes the stance very aggressive. At the front, there is a massive cascading grille. The all-black grille is available in two designs available with different variants. Both the grille designs look sharp. The all-new i20 gets sleek headlamps that look like an extended part of the grille itself. The headlamps get integrated LED DRL and the higher variants also get projector lens with LED.

We did not drive the car in the dark so cannot comment on the throw of the headlamps yet. However, with the halogen projector fog lamps located in big triangular housing down below, it sure is a set-up that can be used on unlit stretches in India with confidence. Halogen lamps work in much better in the foggy conditions and low visibility situations as the warm light does not reflect back as much as the white light of the LED lamps. This is why it is an ideal combination. Hyundai also offers a contrasting black-coloured splitter at the front that adds to the overall sporty look.

The side of the all-new i20 continues to show the aggressive design language, especially with the upswept window line. While there is no sign of chrome at the front, you get to see a chrome underlining the windows and at the end, it takes a sharp turn to meet the roof. It is an interesting design if you like chrome. There is more chrome on the door handles and the driver-side handle also gets a request sensor. It should be noted that the co-driver side does not get a request sensors and you will have to use the key to unlock and enter. The most interesting part about the side is the alloy wheels. With the top-end version, you get 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that do look extremely good. The side also gets black coloured side skirts.

The first thing that will attract your eyes in the rear is the design of the tail lamps. The thunderbolt or the Z-type tail lamps are the best-looking ones that we have seen in this segment. Then comes a chrome strip the connects both the lamps. While I personally do not like chrome, most car buyers in India have a different opinion and I do think that this design will attract a lot of people. Just above the chrome line, there is a gloss black band that makes the rear windshield look bigger in size. At the top, you get a roof-mounted spoiler and there is a shark-fin antenna too.

Overall, the all-new i20 attracts a lot of attention on the roads and definitely makes the heads turn.

A new cabin

The aggressive and sporty design lines of the exterior continue inside the cabin too. Depending on the variant, you get the fabric seats or artificial leather seats. It is a single-tone, all-black dashboard with horizontal lines directing it. The horizontal lines start from the front doors and add a wide look to the cabin. In between, you get concealed AC vents and there are four of them well-hidden from the eyes.

The centre of the dashboard is where the segment’s biggest 10.25-inch infotainment system is located. It is a massive unit similar to the Hyundai Creta and it offers wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay if you have a compatible phone. Hyundai has also added the BlueLink system with over 50 features and voice commands. The voice commands do not work like they do in Creta. You can use navigation and say the name of your contact that you want to call but you cannot make it open the sunroof or any of the windows. The massive infotainment system works with split-screen and shows live traffic too. When there is a situation like a flyover coming up, the navigation system turns on animation to give you clear direction. Also, the maps in the navigation can be updated OTA without visiting the service centre. The infotainment system plays through the 7-speaker system from Bose and it is brilliant. If you’re an audiophile, this is the best stock system that you can get in the segment.

The steering wheels are similar to the one you see in Verna Inand there are a lot of controls and buttons on it. You can use these buttons to do a plethora of things including changing songs, changing the information on the MID and taking up phone calls. Just in front of the steering wheel are the all-digital instrument cluster that gets digital speedometer, digital tachometer and a MID that shows navigation directions, trip meters, fuel efficiency, and segment-first Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The digital instrument cluster is bright enough and you can see the readings clearly even on bright sunny days.

The automatic climate control system gets a dedicated screen and toggle switches that are a nice touch. You do not need to take your eyes away from the roads while adjusting the temperature and that is a safety feature more than a convenience feature. If you have a smartphone that can be charged wireless, you can simply keep it on the charging pad that also gets the cooling feature. This ensures that the phone does not get overheated while charging. Just like most other Hyundai models, there is a sunglass holder too. Not to forget the sunroof, which is now becoming one of the favourite features of the car buyers in India.

Hyundai also offers segment-first OxyBoost air purifier that keeps the cabin air quality clean. On the day we were driving, the AQI in Delhi-NCR was close to 1,000 but the air purifier ensured that we breath fresh air. Since the air purifier is an India-specific feature, it is mounted on one of the cup holders and is not integrated. You do miss a cupholder but get cleaner air.

Rear seats

Since the all-new i20 has become wider and longer than before, you get ample space in the rear. With the front seat adjusted according to my height (5″10), there is enough knee room and legroom in the rear. However, you may find that the under-thigh support is not enough but that’s the case with all the cars in this segment. Hyundai now offers rear AC vents, small storage space and a charging point in the rear too. There is a foldable armrest but there are no cupholders in it. Also, the all-new i20 has become lower than before but that does not mean that there is less amount of headroom. The roof has been carved to create more space in the rear.

Space galore

There is a lot of space to keep you knick-knacks all around. You get large bottle holders in all the four doors, a good amount of space inside the glove box, which is cooled, more space around the wireless phone charger, small space under the front arm rest and a small space near the rear AC vents for the occupants sitting in the rear seats.

Engine options and drive

The all-new i20 is the first car on the K-platform. It has become lighter and stronger than before. There are three engine options available with the all-new i20. We started the drive with the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol. It produces a maximum power 83 PS with the manual transmission and 88 PS with the CVT automatic. We drove the manual version. With 88 PS and 115 Nm of torque, it does feel a bit underpowered. However, if you want a car that will be used majorly inside the city limits, this is the engine option to go for. It has almost zero noise and vibration so when you come to a stop at a traffic light, you do not get to know if the engine is on or off. We drove this variant for about 250 km and it returned a maximum fuel efficiency of 25.77 km/l, which is about 25% more than the 20.35 km/l claimed by Hyundai. If you want to drive more aggressively, the 1.2-litre petrol is not the perfect choice as it has a fair amount of body roll compared to the diesel variants.

Our next drive was with the 1.5-litre diesel. Now, this is a huge improvement over the 1.4-litre turbo-diesel available with the Elite. It produces a maximum power of 100 PS and peak torque of 240 Nm. The power delivery is very linear and there is minimal turbo-lag, which you will enjoy inside the city limits. On the highways too, the diesel feels much more planted due to the higher weight than the 1.2-litre petrol. The diesel engine gets a 6-speed manual transmission and the shifts are very smooth. Also, the clutch is very light and since we drove the petrol manual first, there was not much of a change in the clutch weight. The body roll is also much more controlled due to the higher weight of the car.

Last but not least is the most powerful version, the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol. It generates a maximum of 120 PS and peak torque of 172 Nm. We drove the 7-speed DCT version and the other transmission option available with this is the 6-speed iMT. We only drove it for a few kilometres. During the short ride, we could feel the sporty avatar of the i20. With the turbo-petrol and DCT, it feels like a pocket rocket. According to the official figures, it can do 0-100 km/h in just 9.9 seconds.

The suspension has become stiffer than before but it absorbs the rough patches well. However, sharp potholes and big speed breakers will make you feel the stiffness of the suspension. Overall, the ride quality has improved, the braking has improved and the body roll has reduced.

What we like and did not like

There are a few interesting details like i20 branding on the headlamps, tail lamps and even the side skirts, which we loved the most. Also, the fully digital instrument cluster, Bose speaker system, air purifier are some of the features that we liked the most. However, we did miss rear cupholders and manual day/night IRVM. At least the top-end variant that costs close to Rs 12 lakh should have offered these features.

Worth the money?

The i20 has always been positioned as a premium product. Compared to the outgoing version, Hyundai has added a massive number of features to the i20 and many of them are not even available with the rivals. Yes, the prices overlap with the Venue. However, the Venue being at the bottom of the SUV line-up and the i20 being at the top of the hatchback line-up makes for a big difference. With the long feature list, the prices are justified is what we feel. You also get six airbags, traction controls, HAC, VSM and stiffer chassis than before. If you think they are not, do let us know in the comments section below.