First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai i20

The story:
Hyundai’s third generation of i20 supermini is a sharper design, introducing the firm’s ‘sensuously sporty’ design language as well as a mild hybrid powertrain
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
On sale:November 2020


Hyundai’s new i20 supermini introduces mild-hybrid technology and a new sharper design to the brand. The new model is also slightly lower, wider and longer than its predecessor for a sportier stance.

First Drive- November 2020- Hyundai i20- Image 4The looks are certainly more striking and angular, and generally work well, although they’re just a touch fussy from the rear-side view in particular.

At launch there’s just the one engine, a 100hp 1.0-litre petrol with a 48-volt mild-hybrid addition to improve efficiency.

That new system certainly seems to be effective if the CO2 emissions of 118g/km for the manual car, rising by just 3g/km for the seven-speed automatic, are anything to go by.

Having been given the chance by Hyundai to try a pre-production version of the i20 in the late summer, it’s a bit of a shame to find the brand has wound down the regeneration level, because although it felt a touch too strong initially, it enabled virtual one-pedal driving unless you were bringing the car to a halt. It’s now much subtler.

Otherwise the i20’s powertrain’s performance is good although it’s not the quietest under acceleration, and the ride quality is surprisingly hard for an urban runaround. Light steering is a boon in an urban setting though.First Drive- November 2020- Hyundai i20- Image 5

Inside, everything looks good but there are plenty of examples of hard plastics, some of which are quite high up the eyeline, such as across the doors. However, higher trim levels than the entry SE Connect driven here cure this to some extent. The mild hybrid system also impinges upon boot space; you must either have a high boot floor that’s flat or a lower one with a slope at the far side. Still, Hyundai says the 352-litre boot is 26 litres larger than the previous i20’s.

Rear head- and leg-room are also not bad at all for the sector.

paul barker

The verdict

Improved and more striking looks, decent interior space and good emissions all count in the i20’s favour, although a surprisingly harsh ride quality is a negative point.