Practical experience Hyundai i20, the most popular Korean B-segmenter?

‘This is simply what you can expect from a car’

Hyundai i20

The Hyundai i20 is an odd one out. Not because it has such special features, but because it is one of the few Hyundai models that trumps its sister brand Kia. For example, a Picanto is considerably more popular than the i10 and the Ceed is many times more popular than an i30. Even though the differences are not huge, the i20 beats the Rio. In this article, users unravel the secret that is Hyundai i20.

The car featured in this article is the second generation i20, which was available between 2014 and 2020. The most striking design feature of this otherwise quite businesslike hatchback is the black area on the C-pillar. What not many people know is that Hyundai briefly supplied an i20 Coupé. A three-door with an actual gently sloping roofline. Under the hood of the i20 you could choose one of the two four-cylinder 1.2s or just as many turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinders. Diesel drivers were served with a 1.1-liter CRDi until 2018, which disappeared from the Dutch price list after that year.

Ease of use and seating comfort

When it comes to space and ease of use, Hyundai seems to have aimed well with the i20. We deduce this from the fact that people neither complain nor write about this. This does not apply to the chairs, which are apparently so good that they do sound the praises. “The seats are wonderful,” writes the owner of a 2019 i20 Premium, “lots of support in the corners and no pain for longer distances.”

“The seats are also very easy to adjust for me (1.98 meters),” writes the owner of an i20 Comfort from 2017. “What also surprised me is that I can even sit ‘behind myself’ and have sufficient leg- and headroom,” he adds.

It also appears that a significant step has been made compared to the previous i20, writes an owner who already has more i20 experience. “Better chairs with longer seats ensure a more comfortable seat. You sit a little lower in the car and the standard center armrest in the front is very pleasant.”

Finally, a critical note: “In another review I read that people thought the chairs were on the tight side at the shoulders. I have this experience too. You might get used to it, and otherwise the seats are fine.” And in terms of ease of use: “It’s a pity that the passenger seat cannot lie completely flat due to its design.”

Driving experience and handling

The image that drivers paint of the i20 is that of a good-natured car. “I would describe the driving behavior as instinctive and very pleasant,” says an i20 1.0 T-GDI driver. “This is simply what you can expect from a car. Drives well, responds well and steers nice and light.” With another rider you notice that ‘instinctive’ is the word he was looking for. “I was especially surprised at how quiet the engine was, the nice steering feel and the very nice brakes.”

A driver who previously drove an Opel Corsa naturally compares the i20 with this model. “The handling on the highway is good, much quieter than the Corsa. On back roads, the Corsa was more direct in steering. You feel like you have to submit more with the i20.”

This driver also has criticism, specifically about the noise level at highway speed. “The car is not really quiet at speed.” It is an experience that several i20 drivers share, although the perception differs. “There is some tire noise at higher speeds,” writes another, “but that is not disturbing.”

One rider even split the noise production. The result: “0-50 km/h – The car is very comfortable, quiet and relaxing. You can’t hear the engine, neither can the tires.” Between 50 and 90 km/h: “The engine is still not audible, some wind noise and rolling noises now come through better.” The experience changes between 90 and 130 km/h. “The engine is still quiet, but the wind noise is now becoming very dominant, rolling noise is not yet disturbing, but is getting louder.”

Getting to know new engine technology

The Hyundai i20 is one of the first cars in which consumers are introduced to a new generation of petrol engines, which are now commonplace. This is also evident from the reviews. “The engine took some getting used to for us. A 1000 cc engine with 3 cylinders and a turbo. But once you get used to it, it is a wonderful engine and the 100 hp is more than enough in practice,” writes a surprised rider.

Another one already died during the test drive. “I was very skeptical before I took the first test drive, after all, what should you expect from a 1-liter 3-cylinder? But soon I was very positively surprised that the one-liter (with turbo) drives very well. The gear shift indicator does indicate very early that you need to upshift.” That in turn leads to what another rider calls: “an annoyingly humming engine around 80 km/h in 5th gear, which is what the indicator says it should be.”

In city traffic, the turbo engine proves to be less pleasant, at least as experienced by the next driver. “Where does this car fall short? To answer that, I first want to replace ‘0 to 100’ with ‘from traffic light to 30’. That is a performance that really counts for me, and that is a performance that is very disappointing with this car. This i20 may have a turbo, but of course it won’t start immediately. So I have to go full throttle at traffic lights just to keep up.”

Hyundai i20

Maintenance, malfunctions and irritations

In the field of maintenance and malfunctions, ‘our’ reviewers hardly report any problems. “The car runs very economically and had no other costs apart from regular maintenance. In short, very satisfied and would buy a new Hyundai again,” writes a driver who eventually trades in the car for an unnamed ‘higher model.’ However, he also had some criticism of the i20. “When accelerating in first gear, the clutch is very sensitive and responds very quickly, so you have to give a little more gas to avoid stuttering / bouncing acceleration.”

Another driver reports a problem with the driver’s seat. “This continued to creak irritatingly, despite the dealer’s attention several times. Replacing the seat frame was the solution.” Finally, someone provides some insight into the maintenance costs: “Last week was the second maintenance service at the dealer. After 1.5 hours the car was washed and vacuumed again and ready. Nothing unusual. For €309.00 I was done. The navigation system was also updated for this purpose and I am again assured of roadside assistance for a year.”

The summary of these reviews paints a picture of the Hyundai i20 as everyone’s friend. It does not rely on its distinctive features, but convinces drivers above all with a total package that does what it is supposed to do. And, if these practical experiences are anything to go by, we will continue to do so.

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