Hyundai i20 Active is not an SUV; it doesn’t pretend to be one either
I believe crossover cars are irrational buys. Perhaps most car buyers believe the same. Else, why do crossovers sell a minuscule 1,000 units a month in a car market size of over 2 lakh a month? If you leave aside the Ford EcoSport—the company calls it urban SUV, whatever that means—the crossover segment was created by Volkswagen a little over a year ago when it gave the Polo some decals and started selling it as the Cross Polo. The next was Toyota. The company tried to make the boring-looking Etios funkier and started selling it as the Etios Cross. Fiat too joined the bandwagon, but went a step ahead. It massively altered the design of the Punto and branded it as the Avventura. These three crossovers had one similarity—the cars they were based on were not very popular models.
So what happens when a company that has understood the Indian automotive market extremely well crosses a highly successful car? The result is the Hyundai i20 Active.
Give the already attractive Elite i20 a high-end beauty parlour treatment and you get the i20 Active. The salient changes at the front are new headlamps (with LED DRLs, projector lamps and cornering lights), a reverse hexagonal chrome grille and oval fog lamps. The cornering lights, especially, are a very functional feature. At night, when you turn, say, right, an extra lamp switches on to light up the blind corner, and similarly for the left turn. At the sides, there is a plastic cladding flowing from the front wheel to the rear, but the most prominent changes are the new 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, glossy C-pillar and the fuel filler cap finished in satin grey. At the rear, there is a new bumper and a silver-coloured skid plate. A major design alteration is that the exhaust pipe is almost invisible. The ensemble is completed by a black cladding at the lower end of the body that does a 360-degree tour of the car. The i20 Active sits 190mm above the ground—a 20mm improvement in ground clearance over the Elite i20—and looks quite tall.
Open the door and a different colour scheme greets you. On cars with light exterior colours (white and silver), the cabin gets a coral blue and black two-tone upholstery. On cars with dark exterior colours (red and the new brown), the cabin gets an all-black design with bits in bright orange. All three pedals get a sporty aluminium finish. There is a new eight-speaker audio system that fills the cabin with clear sound. It’s only the diesel variant that gets the start/stop button. All else remains the same as in the Elite i20.
Under the i20 Active’s bonnet are the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines. The petrol engine, though smooth, is uninspiring. The diesel, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, is powerful and fuel-efficient. Hyundai has mildly tweaked the gear ratios which has resulted in an improvement in low- and mid-range torque by 6% in petrol and 11% in diesel.
Because the engines are the same, there is no apparent difference in the way the i20 Active performs. But because the body has been raised by altering the suspension set-up, the car handles bad roads in a slightly better fashion—you obviously go above tall speed-breakers and potholes with far more confidence. However, because the i20 Active is a tall car, there is some amount of body-roll when you approach a corner and leave it at high speeds—but it doesn’t mean the car goes jittery around corners. Hyundai claims a fuel efficiency figure of 17.19 kmpl for the petrol and 21.19 kmpl for the diesel.
Because the i20 Active is based on the highly successful Elite i20, one thing is sure that the car will lead this niche segment as far as sales are concerned. Add to that Hyundai’s vast dealership network. At the launch of the car this week, Hyundai said that the i20 Active will double the segment size immediately and make it grow three-fold in the months to come. Which means that the company is targeting sales of at least 2,000 units a month. From R6.38-7.09 lakh for the petrol and R7.63-8.89 lakh for the diesel, the i20 Active is priced competitively, especially considering the amount of features you get. The i20 Active is not an SUV, and the good thing is that it doesn’t pretend to be one either. This car is for a buyer who is looking for a little extra from his hatchback in terms of features and exclusivity. In these two areas, the i20 Active doesn’t disappoint.