Hyundai I 20

Oh alright then, I’ll admit it – and many a motoring writer wouldn’t - I’m lucky. As someone who gets to drive a lot of different cars I know first hand that Aston Martins are great on roads full of sweeping curves and Porsches feel so beautifully constructed. Bentley’s have a feeling of utter effortlessness and Rolls-Royces are simply serene. A Range Rover will bring out your imperious side no matter how hard you try to contain it and try as you might in a Lotus you’ll never suppress your inner racer. If I can get one I like a 4x4 in January and a soft-top over Easter, and give me a Maserati and I’ll have it echoing in every tunnel you can think of come rain or shine. A reality check every-now-and-then then is a more than just a good idea. After all, I, like most of the rest of the world, am in no position to finance a Ferrari.

Luckily though, once in a while along comes a car that surprises me. It’s turns out to better than I thought it was going to be. It’s affordable, well built, and it comes from a constructor that might just have slipped under my radar a little. Hyundai’s I20 is just such a car.

O.K so it’s no a super-car, but hang on a second. Ask yourself: When exactly was the last time you actually needed a two-seater 600bhp rocket-ship? Have you really got the funds for a sub 12mpg fuel bill?  And, could you really be bothered to answer all of the “how fast will it go mister” questions every time you decide to drive it?

The truth is (apologies if I’m about to sound like an over-protective parent here) 95% of the time all everybody really needs is something cheap to run, something that swallows the weekly shop with ease, and something reliable. A super-mini it is then. No wonder they’re so popular.

The I20 fits the bill nicely. It picks up where Hyundai’s Getz – the best selling Hyundai in Britain so far – left off and was designed and developed in Russelheim, Germany, in order to meet more European orientated demands. Much of this little car’s handling development took place on European roads too. Lower, wider and longer than the Getz it replaces the I20’s styling is neat, and although perhaps ultimately a little anonymous, it’s easy to see who Hyundai are trying to flatter with the use of subtle imitation. The I20 is almost exactly the same size as Ford’s Fiesta.

Inside, it doesn’t feel quite a small as you might have expected. The I20 may have compact dimensions - which when coupled with excellent all-round visibility means it’s a doddle to park - but it’s more than up to the task of seating four comfortably, everything’s neatly laid out and close at hand and there’s even a fifth three-point seat belt too if your rear-seat passengers are friendly. The driving position may be a little upright but, because the steering column adjusts for both reach and rake, and the driver’s seat is height adjustable, and also surprising comfortable, there’s no reason why you should dismiss the I20 when it comes to taking on those longer journeys.

O.K. so it can get a bit noisy at speed and the ride does suffer a little on poorer surfaces, and because there are only five gears things may feel a little frantic at times; should you find yourself four or more up with luggage, on the hilly bits, you’ll be familiar with the gearbox’s light shift in no-time.  But even entry level I20’s get and I-pod connectivity to keep you entertained and air-con to keep you cosy. Plus there are six airbags and ESP to keep you safe, a 5 year un-limited mileage warranty and a 5 Star NCAP safety rating too. You will have to stump-up a little more if you’d like Bluetooth though as it’s standard only on higher specced cars.

Drive this little Korean carefully and you never know, you might even manage to return the claimed 57.6 mpg. After a week and 300 miles or so of mixed driving, even I had a quarter of a tank left and it’s probably fair to say my driving style is a slightly more “spirited” than some of Hyundai’s regular target market.

At a little over £11,600 the 1.2 85bhp 5 Door I20 Active I spent time with probably costs less than a year’s depreciation on some of the stuff I get to drive, and a year’s road tax for it won’t break the bank either.

If you’re in the market for a Clio, a Panda, a Fiesta, a Micra or nearly any other super-mini you can think of try the I20 too.  It may not come with a prestigious badge and it’ll never be a super-car, but there’s no denying the I20 feels every bit as capable as its competition.

Hyundai I 20 1.2 Active

Engine: 1248cc 4Cyl 16V Petrol
Power:  84 BHP @ 6000rpm
Torque: 88 lb ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission:   5 speed manual Front wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph 12.7 sec
Max Speed: 104mph
MPG: 56.7 Combined.
CO2: 114g/km
Price: £11,695.

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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