Hyundai has refreshed the popular i20 premium entry-level hatchback for 2017. The Hyundai i20 Elite now gets some exterior and interior upgrades along with even more added features that make it an even more compelling package. The updated i20 on the exterior front now gets a two-tone paint job option i.e. red or white with a gloss black roof option. Although the two-tone trend was popularised by the Vitara Brezza and then is available in the Ignis too, many i20 owners in the past have chosen to paint or wrap their cars in the same way that Hyundai is now offering straight out of the factory. Hyundai has also added yet another shade of blue for the 2017 model year. Blue incidentally has been an extremely popular colour for the premium entry level hatchback. Check On Road Price of Elite i20
EXTERIOR AND DESIGN ;
It would be a pretty bold statement to say that this is the best looking vehicle in its class, but we’re sure many others would agree with us. The designers have fortunately veered away from excessive cuts and slashes for the sake of making it look attractive and instead, the Elite gets an understated layout which grabs attention rather than begging for it. Overall, it has a clean and sharp profile that injects a sliver of sportiness into its image. Admittedly, if you removed the Hyundai emblem, we would’ve easily mistaken it for something made by a European manufacturer. The face is aggressive thanks to the sleek, swept-back headlamps, with muscular lines down the bonnet complementing the chiseled fascia. The chrome outline on the grille adds just the right amount of flash to the front. The Elite i20 is a handsome car thanks to the sharply styled front bumper, which also slims down the car’s front. Even the indicator lights hide in plain sight and are well-integrated into the headlamp cluster. The chrome door handles are a bit much, but then again, Indians do love their chrome. The 16-inch alloy wheels that are nothing short of droolworthy and are a design highlight. You won’t feel the need to forage through aftermarket options. Unlike the Baleno or Jazz, the Elite i20 doesn’t have any MPV-like overtones. The blackened C-pillar slims down the side profile, as does the shoulder-line and door cladding. It’s also interesting to see how the shoulder-line connects the tips of the head and tail lamps.The rear doesn’t get the same slimming elements as the front, but it isn’t bulbous like the Baleno either. The LED-look tail lights look particularly good at night and perhaps a little black cladding in the rear bumper would improve the look from the back.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
As for the cabin, there’s really little to complain about. Overall quality is impressive (though still a notch down on the VW Polo), detailing is impressive (the column stalks feel very rich) and the layered dashboard looks suitably upmarket. If there’s a negative it’s that the screen for the audio system is a tad too small. Some might also find the knobs for the music system small and fiddly, but drivers do get their own set of controls on the well-finished, three-spoke steering wheel. Drivers will also like the good visibility and ability to adjust the steering for rake and reach. The supportive seats and general feeling of space enhance the front seat experience further. Access to the rear seat is nice thanks to the wide door aperture, and once inside you’ll be quite amazed by the space on offer. Legroom and headroom are particularly good and there is sufficient width to seat three. The rear seat also scores well for good back and leg support. However, the backrest is a bit too reclined and the bolstering on its outer edges hurts comfort when seated three abreast. Shorter occupants may also find the windows a little too high for their liking. If there’s a consolation, rear seat occupants do get a dedicated air-con vent in all but the base version of the i20.
And that brings us to features. The top-spec Asta trim we’ve featured comes with lots of equipment as standard. The list includes automatic headlamps, push button start, automatic climate control, an audio player with 1 GB of onboard music storage, Bluetooth telephone function and a reverse camera. Even the mid-spec Sportz trim comes well loaded, but frustratingly essentials such as a rear wash/wipe and a passenger-side airbag are only offered on the top-spec car.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
The new i20 gets the same petrol and diesel powertrain configurations as before though minor tweaks for efficiency and better load management have been employed. I have driven the 1.4-litre 16-valve 4-cylinder CRDI. You get 90PS at 4,000rpm with a superb 222Nm of max torque between 1,500 – 2,750rpm from this engine. Max engine rpm cuts off at 4,750rpm. The power and torque ratings in the new i20 diesel are adequate for every situation though I do feel Hyundai should have tuned it for better bottom end characteristics. The turbocharger kicks in at 1,400rpm and the boost improves acceleration past that point however, under that mark it feels a bit sluggish. Dense traffic as a result will see you shifting through first and second gears constantly, moreover since it comes coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission which is a fuel efficiency enhancer. Hyundai claims an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 22kmpl for the diesel, with 19kmpl for the petrol. Interestingly the petrol engine gets a 5-speed manual. There is no automatic at the time of launch but expect one in the future.
The new i20 gets the same petrol and diesel power train configurations as before The new i20 gets the same petrol and diesel powertrain configurations as beforeThe diesel engine then, as I mentioned, has got a strong mid-range and you only feel the punch once the turbo kicks in. Acceleration after that is brisk and makes this an effortless highway cruiser. Though having said that it’s no slouch in city traffic either, the responses are sharp and you can get going pretty quickly when the need arises to get past slower moving traffic in urban areas. The diesel is also superbly refined and thanks to immense sound deadening, there is barely any engine clatter audible inside the cabin.The highlight of the Elite i20’s diesel drivetrain is the slick shift leverThe highlight of the Elite i20’s diesel drivetrain is the slick shift lever
The highlight of this drivetrain though is the slick shift lever which has short precise throws. I do like the way you can just give it a light nudge to slot into the required gear. Reverse gear on this can be found in the same place as first gear but engaging it requires you to raise the lever and then slot it into reverse. It’s a safer move unlike what you get in the VW Polo.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Hyundai has worked towards improving the ride and handling on the Elite i20 and it shows on the move. Though the suspension has been carried over from the older car in theory, the geometry as well as the damping characterisers have been revised significantly. The setup is slightly firmer than the older i20. Surprisingly, it hasn’t affected the ride and the i20 still rides quite well; it feels pliant, absorbent and well judged.
The improvement in handling on the other hand is more than obvious. The body roll, the pitch and the waywardness under quick direction changes have all been tied down tightly giving the i20 a more confident, stable and exploitable handling character. We would have liked a less artificial steering response though; the current setup fails to connect the driver with the happenings. Braking on the other hand, even though Hyundai has ditched rear disc brake in favour of a drum setup, is stable and strong.
The Hyundai Elite i20 hasn’t been tested by Global NCAP yet but the first generation Euro-spec i20 got a full 5-star crash test rating at Euro NCAP. The sad thing is that Hyundai India doesn’t offer 6 airbags anymore and the Elite i20 now comes with only dual front airbags, that too on the Asta variant, while only Sportz and Sportz (O) get driver side airbag. ABS is also offered only with Sportz, Sportz (O) and Asta variants while the Era and Magna don’t get any safety features. The Elite i20 comes with Smart Pedal that overrides the accelerator pedal during simultaneous operation of brake and accelerator during panic braking. It also comes with impact sensing door unlock feature that unlocks the doors automatically incase of collision.
The Hyundai Elite i20 with all these changes surely can compete easily with some of its potential rivals like the Maruti Baleno and the Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo in the Indian market. The changes to the exterior and interior are limited to cosmetics, but that does not take the light away from the fact that the i20 is considered as one of the bestsellers of the Indian auto market.