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Tested: Hyundai i20

2010-03-17 10:32
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Hyundai
Model i20
Engine 1.6 Manual
Power 91kW/6300r/min
Torque 156Nm/4200r/min
Transmission 5-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 9.5 seconds
Top Speed 190km/h
Fuel Tank 45l
Fuel Consumption 5.9l combined cycle
Steering Power steering
Airbags Dual front
Front Suspension McPherson type strut with oil shock absorber
Rear Suspension Torsion beam axle with gas shock absorber
Service Intervals 15 000 km
Service Plan Three year/60 000km
Warranty Five year/150 000km
Price R159 900

Sergio Davids

You remember the Getz right? The popular little city car immortalised in a series of TV ads featuring a beautiful (read “buxom”) young lady yelling “Shut up, Bob” at the stereotypically fat and balding US police officer? Well, the Getz is back, sort of, as a brand new car called the i20.

The i20 fills the gap in Hyundai’s line-up left by the popular Getz. While Getz set many a trend in its young life, it is strange that the importer did not do more with the i20 to capitalise on the reputation the Getz had gained in the local market. However, Hyundai is steadfast in its aim to overhaul its local line-up by following through with international naming conventions. This started with the introduction of its i10 budget hatch and will bleed through to the i30 and ix35 when they arrive in South Africa shortly.

But back to the car under discussion. The larger and slightly more upmarket i20 slots in as competition for the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Opel Corsa. As a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the compact hatchback market, as you can probably tell by its list of competitors, i20 already faces stiff competition.

It has seriously big shoes to fill too, if it hopes to come out of the shadows of the Getz and stand on its own four wheels, as it were. In today’s market, it seems compact hatchbacks are just about everywhere so it goes without saying that it remains a highly competitive and lucrative segment to contest.

So it would stand to reason that as a brand you need to come out with a product that sets itself apart from the competition in some way. Hyundai have gone for the value for money angle with the i20’s biggest selling points being relatively low cost and a five-year warranty.

Driving it

Driving the i20 is pedestrian to say the least, and to say the most, it does its job of being a city car quite convincingly. The ride is comfortable, with a soft sprung suspension setup capable of taking the bite out of most poorly maintained roads, though over larger bumps at higher speeds things can get choppier. On the whole the i20 feels decidedly well rounded and polished.

Its 1.6 litre engine makes short work of straights though it doesn’t sound very sporty. For its engine capacity, the i20 puts out a decent amount of power (91kW at 3 000 r/min) and torque (156Nm at 4200 r/min). These output figures bests 88kW and 149Nm from the stylish Ford Fiesta 1.6-litre.

The i20 presents a smooth and reserved ride around congested city streets and the test unit’s bigger powerplant was well suited for cruising out on the highway. Although power doesn’t immediately come through, put your foot down and it’ll move, for sure.

The i20 is easy on the eye and many aspects of the design are somewhat familiar. Looking at the way its competitors have managed to out-manoeuvre one another by rolling out edgy designs with notable differences, the i20 manages to look original and wildly anonymous, all at the same time.

The hatchback benefits from Hyundai’s shift towards more Eurocentric designs and hints of Opel Corsa and Renault Clio can be detected. All this translates to designers playing it safe with generic curves and styling rather than being overly creative.


Inside the i20 you’re treated to an interior that is boring, yet sensible and spacious. The boot holds more than it would let on and the i20 has a cubbyhole so big you could hide an arm in it.

Apart from the now-obligatory electric mirrors and windows, this Hyundai packs a handy onboard computer, air conditioning and a rather punchy MP3 CD-player. The i20 ups the value ante even further with the addition of satellite controls on the steering wheel and a fancy USB/auxiliary jack that allows you to connect your iPod – an absolute must have for younger buyers.

Still, it comes equipped with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a featherweight contender. The brushed aluminium trim isn’t too blingy, and the steering wheel design is actually pretty cool, too.

The interior is let down by the tacky hard plastic motif prevalent from the dash to the door mouldings, which all serves to undermine Hyundai’s "true quality matters" slogan. But, we suppose, the cabin finishes will prove quite robust and able to stand up to the daily rigours its owners will expose it to.


If you're adverse to snobbery and you’re looking for a uncomplicated affordable vehicle, then the i20 humbly fulfils that role.

It’s unobtrusive and quietly gets on with the job of being a dependable, nippy city car without the need to shout “look at me, look at me”.

With average looks, worthwhile performance and a good name backing it, the i20’s biggest selling point is its affordability. At R160 000 for the 1.6l, you would be hard pressed to find a vehicle in this segment that offers the same amount of bang for your recession-stretched buck.

Offering a pleasant driving experience and a standard five-year/150 000km warranty, the Hyundai i20 is a great buy for those seeking an honest and affordable way to get from A to B.


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