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New Hyundai i-Gen i20 : Road Test

Hyundai's popular hatchback the i20 has just gone under the knife to receive its midlife makeover. ZigWheels checks out the details

New Hyundai i-Gen i20
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An unexpected surprise is always a very pleasant experience and the i20 provided Hyundai with just that. Hyundai wasn’t expecting big numbers with this premium hatch but the car proved them wrong. While it may have been a fortuitous success, its credentials were never doubted. It has a very different appeal and also lots to offer in terms of style, space and features to justify its premium price tag. The new i20 then just does that and more.

Finally gets the family look!

The i20 was already a good looking hatch, with the right proportions and the lines and the current styling update makes it look a lot younger. Being a face-lift, the changes aren’t radical but are enough to enhance the car’s appeal. The front gets the family’s fluidic touch with Verna-like headlights, a slim grille and totally revised bumper. While I personally loved the new look, a lot of people including some of my colleagues preferred the older car’s more characterful front.

New Hyundai i20 interiors

But like they say, looks are always subjective. From the side, there is no change whatsoever and the silhouette remains the same apart from the turn indicators being integrated in the mirrors. The rear receives some minor changes with slightly revised tail lights and a redesigned bumper. The new car not only looks bigger than its predecessor but actually is. The length has gone up by 55mm making it 3995mm long. 

Premium insides remain

There are no major changes on the inside, but it feels like Hyundai has upped the quality of the materials. Everything from the seats to the soft textured dashboard exudes a premium feel. Even the plastics feel robust and well finished. The buttons and the dials may not work with the same finesse of a German hatch but they more than do their job. The driver now also gets an arm rest which is pretty useful when you’re stuck in a jam or cruising down the highway. Space has been the i20’s forte and it still is. The cabin can accommodate five adults in comfort and haul their luggage thanks to that large boot. 

Hyundai i20 VVT petrol engine

Variable Valve Timing under the hood!

The i10 Kappa recently got it and now it was the i20’s turn. Now armed with variable valve timing technology for the intake and exhaust valves which optimises the opening and closing of valves for improved performance, mileage and reduced emissions, the new i20 makes all of 84PS which is a 4PS bump over the older engine, but at 114Nm the torque remains the same. Twist the key and what you notice immediately is the new-found refinement. The earlier Kappa unit was quite  refined unit but this one takes it to a whole new level. 

Ironically, the increase in power hasn’t led to an increase in outright performance. While the older car completed the 100km/h sprint in 15.44 seconds, the new car took 16.28 seconds for the same. While tuning is one of the reasons, the other could be that the new car makes its 84PS at a full 800rpm higher than the earlier engine. But there is a gain as well. The lag in the lower rpm has been compensated for by the variable valve timing and as the revs rise, the i-Gen i20’s note gets even more sonorous. 

New Hyundai i-Gen i20

Mid range is peppier too but where this car really shines over the older car is in the top speed. While we just managed 153km/h with the older car, the new car’s speedo wound all the way up to an indicated 170km/h with our Drift box registering a true speed of 166km/h. The new car definitely feels a lot more comfortable on the highway thanks to its peakier power delivery.

That said, the i20 still feels underpowered. To expect things to happen any quicker only lends to a drop in fuel efficiency. While it just about does the job, we still feel the 100PS 1.4-litre engine offered in the automatic version is the best bet for this car.

New Hyundai i-Gen i20 Road Test

What was also noticeable was the change in the car’s dynamics. The steering which felt extremely light and nervous now feels slightly heavier and offers more feel as feel. The suspension has been retuned as well. The crashy low speed ride is a thing of the past and the new car feels a lot better taking ruts and potholes in its stride. It’s no corner carver but then dynamics hasn’t really been Hyundai’s strongest point anyway.

Coming to the fuel efficiency, the i-Gen i20 is way behind it predecessor. While the older car managed 12.47kmpl  around town, the new one just managed 9.5km to the litre. Even on the highway, the new car managed a best of just 13.5kmpl compared to the earlier car’s 18.06kmpl. The lack of torque lower down means one inevitably ends up giving more throttle thereby affecting the mileage. 

Reverse parking camera on the new Hyundai i20

More bang for more money…

The new i20 now offers a lot more than its predecessor. Standard on the Asta is a reverse camera, keyless entry and go, electric folding mirrors and climate control, auto wipers and six airbags. You also get Bluetooth connectivity, an audio system and USB and aux-in ports. It also looks a lot better, has better quality interiors and is still one of the most comfortable hatches in the market. While there may be better cars when it comes to performance and dynamics, the new i20 scores a lot of points as an ideal city car thanks to its user friendly nature.

New Hyundai i20 side action

Priced between Rs 4.73 lakh and  Rs 7.67 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, the i-Gen i20 is marginally more expensive than before but offers a lot more as well. The i-Gen i20 may not be an all-new car but it definitely has more to it than meets the eye. 

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