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REVIEW: 2018 Hyundai i20 Active

2018-07-05 07:00

Sean Parker, Janine Van der Post

Image: Quickpic

Make no mistake, Hyundai South Africa made a smart move to introduce the i20 Active to the local market especially considering the recent launch of the Polo Vivo Cross, another pseudo crossover. 

Sean Parker asks the pertinent questions about Hyundai's latest hatchback. 

So, what sets apart the new i20 Active apart from a normal i20? 

To differentiate itself as a lifestyle vehicle, the Active sports a different grille and fog lights. There's some silver cladding on the matt-black front and back bumper.

Hyundai says the new model boasts a higher ground clearance (170mm), a nice touch (practically and aesthetically) are the roof rails to carry bicycle carriers or a roof box for to make transporting camping gear easier.

The Active model sits on 16" wheels and with ample tyre profile, suited for gravel roads says the automaker. We didn't venture onto gravel roads with the Active. 

Inside you'll find red accents on the air vent, gear lever console and gear knob if you're car is decked out in a red hue. And blue accents if the exterior colour is blue. The red even makes its way to the front seats bolsters, you just can't escape it. To be honest, it doesn't look too garish and I didn't find it over the top. 

So does this mean there's a new engine for the Active model? 

No change here, the Active is powered by the familiar 1.4-litre petrol engine producing 74kW and 133Nm. Top speed is quoted at 182km/h. 

Its mated to a six-speed manual in this particular model. I enjoyed the feel of the manual 'box as it's rare we get to test cars where you have to swap your own cogs. But I found the solid action of the Hyundai's gearbox to be pleasant and a boon in stop/start traffic. 

The engine has enough vooma for the daily commute, but it does struggle on inclines and overtaking. 

What's it like to drive? 

Good but mundane. And yes, this car is not meant to be terribly sporty or dynamic and it doesn't pretend to be. Using a McPherson strut layout for the front suspension and a torsion beam at the rear, the i20 Active offers a comfortable ride that soaks up the bumps when it needs to. 

The engine as I mentioned is revvy and eager to go but you'll need to row through the gears quite a bit to extract the measly 130-odd Nm of torque. Fuel consumption hovered around the 9.0-litre/100km mark, which is quite high, but would've had a lot to do with my driving style. 

All in all, it does what it needs to do, and with the addition of some funky and practical styling additions, it's competing for attention of consumers looking for a 'hatchcomecrossover'. 

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                                                          *All images: Quickpic


It makes sense doesn't it? Using a nameplate (i20) popular with the public and adding a suffix to create a car that competes with Volkswagen's recently launched Polo Vivo Maxx, Toyota's Etios Cross, Volkswagen's Cross Up!, Fiat's Panda Cross 4x4 and Suzuki's Ignis. 

What you get with the Hyundai is a strong dealer network, good (percieved) build quality and a two-year/30 000km service plan as well as the standard five-year/150 000km warranty. But at just under R280 000, there are other options available in this segment. So shop around before you put your hard-earned money down. 

Team opinion

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "Hyundai's i20 sells several hundred units each month, while the more popular Grand i10 reaches over 1000 units monthly on average.

To add to the brand's onslaught, the Korean automaker has added the i20 Active to its range. 

So what's the point of this kind of vehicle?

As mentioned, think VW Polo Vivo Maxx or Toyota's Etios Cross. It most certainly does not give you right of way to go bundu-bashing, but it does take away the daily bashes of being parents with kids.

Picture having to climb the kerb or higher ground at soccer or rugby fields for Saturday game days for your little ones. Or trying to hold onto your child who is trying to run away while you're trying to unload the trolley before it gently rolls into the back of the vehicle. Those silver under-plates and black plastic side trims come in extra handy when you least expect.

The 1.4-litre found in the rest of the i20 range delivers 74kW/133Nm is more than suffice as a daily drive whether you're trotting to work or going away for a weekend with the family in tow. There's more than enough boot space to load luggage bags and a cooler box or two. 

While it isn't a vehicle made to run the speedometre needle off the clock, it drives comfortably and is hardly lazy for a steady cruise or a bit of a gravel driving. It's eager to overtake and it's 133Nm proves to give the i20 Active more than enough grunt to perform any necessary overtaking manoeuvres. 


Red interiors are never one of my favourite things, but I absolutely love the minimalist approach Hyundai has taken with this derivative. The subtle red inserts on the seats and red trim on the outer air vents works well, along with the red top of the gear lever and the red stitching on the leather gear-lever pouch.

Priced at R280 000, it's most certainly not the cheapest of offerings but it does tick the right boxes for families looking for something a tiny but more rugged in terms of styling in a family vehicle.   


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