The inverted snob's car
Maybe it's because I'm getting older and hence less tolerant and more exigent, but I recently asked the editor of this supplement to spare me the low-end cars... at least for a while. I told him that I had had enough of test driving and reviewing very basic cars which are only concerned with getting me from A to B....and not necessarily in one piece. Admittedly, despite my inversed snobbery, I was in the mood for some luxury, some finesse, some sophistication, some bling bling!
So, when despite my pleas he asked me to review the Hyundai i20, (which I already knew was priced around the €11k mark), I took a deep breath and thought ‘here we go again'!
Perhaps it was because of my low expectations that were preset by this Hyundai's price tag, but the moment I popped inside my first impression was ‘Wow!'
First I was struck by the bold dashboard which houses neat dials, easy-to-read graphics and a discreet but very spacious glove compartment. And then my hands were drawn to caress the smart centre stack which has such trim shut-lines that they are almost invisible to the naked eye. Then a quick glance at the back seat left no doubt in my head that this car can comfortably fit four, if not five big adults. Also the luggage boot is so spacious you might be tempted to fit a child in it....but don't...it is a glorious 295 litres meant for all your luggage and storage requirements!
It took me a while to adjust the driver's seat simply because this car, unlike other basic ones, has a wide range of seat adjustment options - forward and backwards, up and down, inclined or straight, head rest up or down or even without, and my very favourite - the steering wheel adjuster.
The seats are also luxuriously finished, though for humane reasons I would never go for the part-leather ones that come on the Style version. The cloth ones that come with the Comfort and Classic versions, feel very supportive, comfortable, and at least to me, still very stylish. I would only opt for the Style version because for a relatively small price difference you get some beautiful extras such as 16-inch alloys, climate control, metal look trim finishers and front fogs.
Although the i20 is meant to replace the Getz in the Hyundai range, it is astonishingly much bigger and somehow lighter, and although it comes in three versions, all of them include air-conditioning, six airbags, remote central locking, electric front windows with driver control, and a memory stick connection. Although very light and compact making it very agile on the streets, it emits that very solid feel that you normally get with big burly cars. In addition, the one I tested (1.2 petrol), was so silent that I almost felt sinful when switching the radio on.
The manufacturers claim that this car emits only 124 g/km in CO2, but I found this hard to believe especially whilst driving the brand new showroom version with its still stiff engine, on our unfriendly roads. The emissions probably improve when the engine loosens up, but in any case, real emission figures always seem to fall short of any manufacturer's claims.
When you factor in its low running costs, its three year warranty, its spacious interior, the equipment which comes with every model, and its 5-Star NCAP rating which scored six out of a maximum seven points in the ‘safety assist' category, this car is very tempting. When you add the incredible price it is going for I don't think a small car lover can resist it at all.
Some early users have complained of a few annoying flaws like leaky tyre valves, but they are such minor complaints that I'm pretty sure Hyundai are tweaking them as I write.
So yes, if you're a stylish inverted snob into cheap running costs, low insurance premiums and five years of peace of mind then, the i20 hits the spot.
The driver's seat is so comfortable the challenge is not to fall asleep
Agile and silent even when pushed to its limits
Compliments the inverted snob's persona to a tee
There's a dollop of German handy work all over it
Smooth on the open road, bit stiff on the bumps
Easy to park anywhere, low running costs, and can seat a six footer without causing neck injuries
Starting Price 3 Door - € 11,000
Top Speed - 165 km/h
0 - 100km - 12.9 seconds
Economy (Combined cycle) - 5.2L / 100km
Engine - 1248cc
CO2 - 124g/km
Max. Power (kW/rpm) - 57.2 / 6,000
Max. Torque (Nm/rpm) - 118.6 / 4,000
Transmission - 5 Speed M/T