The Hyundai i20 is now in its third generation
The Hyundai i20 is now in its third generationShot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

All-new Hyundai i20: First look review

We got our hands on the new i20 in a studio last month, and can give you our first impressions of the car from the outside and inside

Hyundai has finally launched the new i20 in India, and it is a whole generational upgrade from the Elite i20. Prices for the new i20 start at Rs 6.54 lakh and go up to Rs 11.17 lakh (ex-showroom), and is available with 13 variants over . There’s plenty of new features, engine options and updates to the new i20. I spent some time poking around the cabin of the i20 some time ago and in this story, I am going to share my first impressions with you.
But before we get there, it is worth noting how important a car the i20 is for Hyundai. How’s this for a statistic — the Elite i20 sold close to 10,000 units in September 2020, making it the 10th best-selling car in the country that month. This is a six year old car, and its impending replacement was no real secret. That’s how important a car it is for Hyundai. Well, the new i20 is here. It drops the silly prefix, while getting a complete overhaul. The Tata Altroz may have won our premium car comparison test a few months ago, but check out what the i20 is packing — you might just want a rematch.

Sensuous Sportiness

That’s what Hyundai calls its new design language. Up front, the i20 looks far sharper than before. You’ll notice a resemblance to the Verna — in the way the grille stretches out to the headlamps. The bonnet has a power bulge in it, much like on the Grand i10 and the bumpers are fairly aggressive. There’s a distinct lack of chrome up front, the only element being the badge and I really like that. I like that carmakers are now able to make something look ‘premium’ without slapping 10kgs of bling-bling on the nose. Yes, this is the turbo-petrol variant and the other variants get a different grille (still all-black) and no turbo badge. The i20 gets LED projector headlamps, LED DRLs and projector fog lamps. There’s a blacked-out faux-splitter, that continues as a blacked out side-skirt on the side.

The variant we had with us had 16-inch alloys on display, and there will likely be smaller wheels on lower variants. On the side, there’s a little more chrome than up front — on the window surrounds and the door handles. The rear is easily the most distinct (and polarising) angle of the i20. It starts with the unconventional Z-shaped LED tail lamps that wrap around the side of the cars. There’s a chrome strip between the two lights, with a gloss-black element and a black faux-diffuser. I like it and plenty don’t, but here’s some food for thought — if people can lap up the Creta like there’s no tomorrow, they shouldn’t have a problem with this. It isn’t just the styling that has changed though — the wheelbase is 10mm longer, and it is 41mm wider and this has made a difference to the space on the inside.

Kitted out
The first thing that you notice is how laterally arranged everything is. There are slashes in the dashboard, the red accents on the dash, the spokes on the steering wheel, the arrangement of the AC controls — all horizontal. It accentuates the additional width of the cabin even more. The red accents are unique to the turbo-petrol variant, and the other variants get all-black interiors without the red bits.

The dash is sensibly laid out. There’s a large infotainment screen— 10.25 inches with an interface that is familiar if you’ve sat in any modern Hyundai. It rises out of the dash and is well in your line of sight. Below that are the AC controls that fall to hand easily. The switches that control the fan speed and temperature in particular are very well damped and feel premium. There’s two USB ports up front, along with a tray with a wireless phone charger. The steering wheel is straight out the the Creta, and the instrument cluster is all digital. The cluster’s interface resembles the one in the Verna, and I was slightly disappointed Hyundai didn’t bring the cluster on the UK-spec i20. From the pictures, it looks far nicer but it was also probably more expensive and this car sits in a price sensitive segment. The addition of cooled seats would have been welcome, but this i20 doesn’t get them. Other equipment that the i20 gets are an air purifier — one that sits in the cupholder on integrated in the armrest, Bose speakers, BlueLink connectivity with over the air updates, and a sunroof. It also gets 6 airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, ESC and hill start assist.

As for the space and comfort, the seats and upholstery feel really good. In the rear seat, you do have a significant amount of more legroom — 88mm more if Hyundai’s claims are to be believed. I can confirm that knee room is a lot more than before, as is shoulder room.

Under the hood

The i20 gets a whole host of new engines. The one that interests us the most is the 1-litre turbo-petrol motor that will be made available in Hyundai Venue’s spec. That means 118bhp and 172Nm, with a claimed 0-100kmph time of 9.9 seconds! This engine is only available with the DCT and iMT transmission though, if you want a manual with a clutch you’re going to gave to look at the naturally-aspirated petrol. The i20 gets a 1.2-litre engine putting out 82bhp on the manual, and 87bhp on the iVT transmission. Hyundai, unlike many other small car makers, hasn’t given up on diesels just yet and is going to launch the i20 with its BS6-compliant 1.5-diesel engine. It makes 99bhp, and comes mated to a six-speed manual. Hyundai hasn’t ruled out an automatic diesel for the future, but there isn’t any available at the time of launch. As with the Verna, and the Creta before it, Hyundai is providing a whole host of options when it comes to its drivetrains and there should be one for everyone!

Pushing the envelope

The i20’s legacy is that of pushing the boundaries of what you can expect from a small car — shifting the perception of the hatchback from being a budget car to something more premium. And this new generation i20 pushes those boundaries further. It steps up the game when it comes to equipment, while introducing drivetrains that we’ve seen on cars in more expensive segments. Hyundai’s recent cars have shown real improvement on the dynamic front and it will be interesting to see if they filter down to the i20 as well. The i20 competes with the likes of the Tata Altroz, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno and Volkswagen Polo.

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