Test Drive: Hyundai i20 1.0 T-GDi 48V: The Magic Formula?

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Tastes and colours are a private matter. However, it is widely admitted that this new i20 looks great with a dynamic face using a large grille that is not offensive on the eye. From the headlights shape that blends smoothly in the front design with all the lines heading to the central logo and triangular openings in the lower part of the front bumper. It really show how serious Hyundai is to gain market share in the mini class.

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Its sides are beautifully sculpted and the rear panel is distinctive too, with its highly detailed taillights and the red line that connects them under the rear window. Our test car featured 16’’ alloy wheels and finished in a mica gray colour costing an extra € 600. Its “Techno” guise makes for a particularly well equipped car but we will come back to it later.

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I like it

The exterior shape and lines are decidedly modern, just like the inside of the car featuring a very contemporary design incorporating two digital screens. Enough to outdate its competitors on the spot as they all use good old dials! Hyundai entitle us to a large central 10,25’’ infotainment touchscreen called BlueLink (on Techno and Sky finishes). DAB+ radio, satnav, Android Auto, Allple Car Play wireless connectivity and voice recognition are all featured! It’s even possible to choose ambient sounds that are supposed to relax or make you nostalgic (coffee terrace noises…). Finally, the central display dials change color depending on the chosen driving mode (Eco, Comfort and Sport) or can even adopt a rather strange cubic design. However, the “Techno” version makes do with a manual aircon system using good old buttons.

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Quite clever

The 100 hp 3-cylinder 1.0 T-GDi engine is not exactly the last word in technology but proved to be particularly pleasant to drive in all conditions. Its 172 Nm torque makes for easy and pleasant daily commutes and the 6-speed manual gearbox even allows you to have a bit of fun through  bends’ succession. Our test car featured a light hybridization system with a small 12,2 kW small electric motor acting as an alterno- starter. Traffic lights restart is brisk, inaudible and very smooth. The only flaw of the system being the loss of 90 litres of boot volume.

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I don’t like it

We don’t really like the all-black and drab cheap low quality interior plastics. Despite its 48V hybrid system, our test Hyundai i20 wasn’t particularly economical, swallowing an average 7.1 L/100 km during our high pace 560 km test. Let’s end with a small but nevertheless infuriating detail : the tailgate handle is both difficult to access and uneasy to use. The wife didn’t loose her fingers using it but it was quite close. Her nails suffered a lot…

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Why I buy it

As we said before, this Asian city car pts a strong case against the competition. Its modern lines, its technology usually found on much more expensive cars as well as its small three pot engine allied to as swift electric motor make for a really compelling case . Yet, we haven’t even mentioned  its intelligent manual transmission (iMT) with very long gears allowing you to either drive along with the engine switched off as soon as you lift off the accelerator or with the engine idling. One quickly gets caught up in the game, especially when a small sailboat (freewheeling or “coasting” ) lights up on the dashboard…

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Why I won’t buy it

Even though the i20 1.0 T-GDi 48V Techno can boast quite a large interior space and high levels of equipment, it retails at € 21,499…  which is not really cheap, especially compared to the Citroën C3 Shine with a 1.2 110 PureTech engine at € 20,995, to the Ford Fiesta Trend fitted with a 1.0 l 95 EcoBoost engine at € 18,245 ; the Renault Clio Zen TCe 90 retails at just € 18,400 despite a long list of standard features. Its top of the range Sky version retails at € 24,499. Along with the tailgate handle problem mentioned above, we were really upset by the car’s starting procedure. Putting the box in neutral, then disengaging it WHILE pushing on the brake pedal is a real pain. Even American car makers don’t go that far to safeguard the driver… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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