Review and road test of the Hyundai i20 3 door
TWENTY TO THREE
The Hyundai i20 3 door offers a little coupe style to the supermini segment and is well worth a look, especially in this revised form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review of the Hyundai i20 3 door
It's actually quite hard to buy a three-door supermini these days - many manufacturers in this segment don't offer this body style any more. Hyundai does with its i20. This revised i20 3 door model gets smarter looks, a 7-speed dual clutch auto gearbox option, upgraded safety and extra media connectivity. Plus it remains one of the more affordable class players.
The Hyundai i20 mas more street credibility than you might think. This model is, after all, the basis for the brand's assault on the World Rally Championship. Production versions don't have much in common with that be-spoilered forest monster but ordinary buyers can at least dial up a little extra style by opting for this three-door variant.
Like its five-door stablemate, it's made at a state-of-the-art plant in Turkey and has been developed following a German-based product development programme and a demanding testing schedule on roads right across the Euro zone. This one, in other words, really is designed precisely for us. And has been usefully facelifted in this revised form.
So what's under the bonnet? Performance-wise, not a whole lot, to be frank. For all the pumped-up wheel arches and attitude, the i20 3 door lacks a bit of firepower. There are only two engines on offer, both petrol-powered and mated to manual transmission. There's a relatively old-tech 1.2-litre 84PS unit, or a more desirable 100PS 1.0 T-GDi turbo option.
The i20 has always made great play of being designed by Europeans, in Europe for European conditions, so it's no surprise that we've always liked the way the car drives. The underpinnings have been fettled by a team in Russelsheim, Germany to suit European road conditions. It gets a MacPherson strut front suspension and semi-independent coupled torsion beam axle at the rear. The steering system is a brushless a/c electric motor-driven steering system that requires just 2.7 turns lock-to-lock for a tiny 5.1-metre turning radius - making the car easy to navigate with in town. Just as a supermini should be.
Design and Build
There's a lot that's very right about the styling. The profile view is especially striking with the glasshouse and pillars being completely different to the five-door car, giving the 3 door a more rakish appearance. It's those bulging rear wheel arches that are the key design flourish though. Despite its sloping rear glass, this body shape retains respectable practicality, carrying 336-litres of luggage in the boot. The looks of this improved model are slightly more eye-catching, the rear featuring updated bumpers and smarter combination lamps, while the tailgate has been reworked to integrate the license plate. There are smarter 15" and 16" alloy wheel designs too.
The interior remains quite smart, with the design maturity of a much bigger car. Previously, a major omission on lower-order variants was the kind of centre-dash infotainment screen that buyers expect from virtually every modern car these days. To put that right, the 7-inch monitor that was previously limited to the priciest derivatives is now fitted across the range and features 'Apple CarPlay' / 'Android Auto' smart-phone mirroring. At the top of the range, this monitor supports a built-in navigation system. As for practicality, well the back seat remains quite spacious by supermini standards.
Market and Model
The i20 3 door carries on where the previous near-identical i20 Coupe model left off, priced from around £14,000 for the base 'SE' model with an old-tech 1.2-litre petrol engine; you'll need £1,000 more for the more modern 100PS 1.0 T-GDI petrol unit. Even the base 'SE' trim comes with some decent equipment such as 16" alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors and a rear spoiler. There's also a plusher 'Premium Nav' trim option. Spec changes with this revised model include the addition of a centre-dash 7-inch infotainment screen on lower-order models. As before, the infotainment system has USB and auxiliary connectivity fitted as standard and can be specified with an integrated My Music function, along with Bluetooth hands free, where up to 1GB of music can be stored and played.
Plus you can specify 'big car' features like a panoramic sunroof, automatic folding door mirrors, a heated steering wheel and a special automatic windscreen defog system. A key new option available across the range is a Phantom Black two-tone roof. There's also now a lot more camera-driven safety kit on offer, including the latest Hyundai SmartSense active safety and drivers assistance systems. These include Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) city and interurban, Driver Attention Alert (DAA) and High Beam Assist (HBA).
Cost of Ownership
Hyundai has gone to some length to improve the efficiency of the latest i20, as a part of making sure that all engines now meet the now more stringent Euro 6d emission regulations. The company's Idle Stop and Go engine stop/start system is now a standard feature across the range. And the popular 1.0 T-GDI turbo three cylinder petrol engine is now equipped with a built-in particulate filter to enhance environmental performance. This i20's relatively low weight also helps, achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength steel. As does efficient electrically-assisted steering and the slippery 0.30Cd drag co-efficient.
The five year unlimited-mile warranty is still a huge drawcard car this car. Imagine you bought a Hyundai i20 and your neighbour bought a Fiesta and you both sell your cars after three years. Anyone buying the Ford would be on their own, whereas the Hyundai buyer would be able to transfer the residual two years of the warranty. That's a huge drawcard. As well as the warranty, Hyundai also offers annual health checks on the i20 for five years - and five years worth of roadside assistance. There's an additional ten year anti-perforation warranty for the bodywork. You can also choose a three or five year fixed price servicing plan if you really want to take the nasty surprises out of ownership.
The i20 3 door is a good-looking car that ought to do much to build a more dynamic image for the Korean brand amongst younger buyers. It's a cost-effective way for younger drivers to land a really sharp-looking hatch that's not going to cost the earth to run.
It inhabits a section of the market that's currently a bit underpopulated too - that for three-door superminis. Hyundai could do more to capitalise on what the coupe looks of this design could offer though. I think they've only just scratched the surface of this variant's potential.
Hyundai i20 3 door review by Jonathan Crouch