It's called Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 and, no, it’s not a new app or computer programme.
It’s Hyundai’s latest design philosophy and the Korean carmaker’s completely new i20 – just released in South Africa – is the first exponent of this architecture.
While the new B-segment contender’s lines are clear, crisp and simple, giving it a contemporary, quite Eurocentric visage, it’s also oddly enough more anonymous-looking than that of its more curvaceous predecessor – of which nearly 70 000 have been sold in South Africa through the past five years.DESIGN DETAIL
The neat and bold nose features a new interpretation of Hyundai’s trademark hexagonal grille with a new, thin, horizontal strip connecting the headlights. In profile, the car is nicely sculpted and the dark treatment of the C pillars visually accentuates the car’s length while also creating the impression of a floating roof.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Hyundai i20
The feature line that runs the length of the vehicle connects at the rear – dropping subtly below the rear window to improve visibility – and the tail light clusters wrap around the rear wing and feature a “boomerang” LED design.
It’s quite similar to that of an Alfa Giulietta or Toyota Auris...
If Hyundai’s lengthened i10 deserved the designation Grand i10 then the new i20, strictly speaking, should have been named Grand i20…
The newcomer, based on a larger platform, is visually bigger than its predecessor and, while slightly shorter, has a longer wheelbase (now 2570mm) and is 24mm wider.
Thanks to these increased dimensions it now has 10mm more legroom and 22mm more headroom up front, while headroom of 968mm, legroom of 813mm and shoulder room of 1350mm allow comfortable seating in the rear.
Boot capacity has also been enhanced, to 294 litres with the rear seats upright and 1010 litres with the rear seats folded down.
The platform of the latest i20 (which will also form the base of the new Hyundai World Rally car) has been specifically developed to provide stiffer torsional rigidity.
The structure is now composed of 42% light but ultra high-strength steel compared with 16% in the outgoing model, and together with reinforcing loops for the B and C pillars and rear hatch opening, torsional rigidity is up by 81%, reducing vibrations and aiding performance.
And while its exterior dimensions grew, the new i20 is still among the lightest vehicles in its segment.
Three derivatives of the new model, designed at Hyundai’s European technical centre in Russelsheim, Germany, are now available in South Africa: i20 1.2 Motion (manual), i20 1.4 Fluid (manual) and the i20 Fluid equipped with a four-speed autobox.
The two four-cylinder, all-aluminium, Kappa quad-valve petrol engines – a 1197cc and a 1368cc, each with dual continuous variable valve timing – are carried over from the previous range.
The 1.4 can deliver 74kW at 6000rpm /133Nm at 3500rpm, the 1.2 61kW at 4000rpm/115 Nm at 4000rpm.
Interestingly, no diesel model is available in the new line-up; Hyundai SA says the possibility has not been excluded…And yes, a performance model with powerful 1.6 turbo engine and a coupe are being considered.
The first noticeable attribute of the newcomer was the solid and resilient feel of its cabin – not only in terms of build quality but also the high-grade materials used.bWhile the grey and black trim is quite sombre, the high-durability materials give it a premium look-and-feel and in this sense it’s on par with most of its European competitors.
“Functional clustering” of key technologies, such as the audio, cabin heating and ventilation, and power windows, yields a cleaner cabin visually.
Trim includes subtle piano-black inserts, including around the start/stop button, audio and HVAC unit controls, in addition to chromed detailing around the air vents and gear shifter.
The equipment level is also high, including auto-folding external mirrors, smartphone docking, USB and auxiliary connectivity, and a Bluetooth hands-free phone and music streaming function.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
On the mountainous launch route it was soon clear that in terms of ride and handling the i20 has greatly benefitted from its new platform. With its longer wheelbase, wider track and well-tuned suspension (independent Macpherson struts at the front and semi-independent torsion-beam axle at the rear) it feels solid and sturdy on the road, with good ride quality.
Its new motor-driven power steering is quite light at low speeds but becomes nicely weighted, responsive and accurate at higher velocities – contributing to its agility and handling in corners.
While the 1.4 engine is willing, it lacks low-down torque and requires some fancy shifting of the smooth and slick six-speed transmission to keep it on the boil. However, when it reaches cruising speed, it is quiet and relaxed.
Hyundai wants to regain a share of 20% of the B segment market with the i20. While up against some stiff competition, such as the top-selling VW Polo, the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Renault Clio and soon-to-be-released Mazda2, it has the attributes - including a size advantage - to achieve this.
The price for the entry-level 1.2 Motion, including a two-year or 30 000km service plan and Hyundai’s warranty and roadside assistance for five years or 150 000km, is R184 900, the 1.4 Fluid is available from R204 900.
Hyundai i20 1.2 Motion - R184 900
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid - R204 900*
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid a/t - R214900*
*Includes a three-year or 60 000km service plan.
See the full specifications of each model.