2020 Hyundai i20 First Drive Review: India’s most feature-loaded hot hatch

The all-new 2020 Hyundai i20 has finally been launched and we sampled both the 1.0-litre turbo DCT as well as the 1.5-litre diesel manual on Indian roads. On paper, the new i20 is the most feature-loaded premium hatchback in its segment and seems to offer the best value. But we drive the new i20 to get a first-hand experience of the new hatchback.

By:Updated: Nov 18, 2020 2:41 PM
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The 2020 Hyundai i20 being an all-new car gets an all-new design, multiple segment-first features and a variety of powertrain options. The company claims that the new i20 will be a dominant player in the segment, now that’s Hyundai saying what it would but we recently drove the car to find its potential and whether it is good enough to challenge the likes of Tata Altroz, Toyota Glanza, Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Volkswagen Polo and Honda Jazz. Read along to find out!

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2020 Hyundai i20 – Design and Appearance

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The new 2020 Hyundai i20 looks striking and looks unlike any of its present rivals. The car gets a design with sharp razor edges along with a low and hunkered down aggressive stance. All thanks to which the new i20 is currently one of the most energetic looking hatchbacks on sale. One of the elements that truly stand out is the blackened out grille and the good thing is that it is not restricted to the turbo variant. The all-LED headlamps with LED DRLs look sharp and the edges around the fog lamps look nice too.

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The striking looking parts on the sides include really nice looking 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. Another thing about the new i20 that completely stands out is the way its complete glass area which is also known as the Day Light Opening (DLO) is designed. This lets a lot of light to enter the cabin which gives a nice effect. Another striking part about the new 2020 Hyundai i20 design is the Z-shaped LED tail lamps and these do look good, especially in the dark. Like the rest of the design, the boot lid and the bumper also get sharp creases. Moreover, you get dual-tone colour options with the car as well but those are available only with the turbo variants.

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2020 Hyundai i20 – Interiors and Features

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Step inside the new 2020 Hyundai i20 and you are in for a visual as well as an experiential treat. The dashboard gets a premium-looking design and this is done up with dark shades and hence, there is no dual-tone or light coloured upholstery on offer and to us, that’s a good thing as it syncs with the sporty design of the car. The non-turbo variants do not get the red accents on the dashboard and the seat. Moreover, unlike the artificial leather seats on the turbo, the non-turbo variants get fabric seats. The air-conditioning vents are integrated into the design and hence, as you can see, these seem to run from one end to the other. The car gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the lower variants get an 8-inch unit.

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The new 2020 Hyundai i20 also gets Bluelink connectivity, the same feature that we have seen on the Verna, Venue and the Creta. Bluelink makes your car a fully connected one with an embedded SIM and that allows you to access as many as 50 connected car features from your smartphones like navigation, vehicle tracking and a lot more. The i20 comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well. The screen gets a good touch response and it’s a fluid interface. The instrument cluster is an all-digital unit that gets a fairly simple design. The good thing is that you can also get turn by turn navigation here and that basically eliminates the need to move the vision away from the instrument cluster to the central screen inside the cabin. The steering wheel looks premium and feels nice and chunky to hold and gets all the required controls.

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Talking of features, the new 2020 Hyundai i20 gets a wireless charging pad and this is a cooling unit that ensures that your smartphone doesn’t heat up when you put it on charge. Moreover, the car gets an in-built air purifier and apart from ensuring good air quality inside the cabin, it also enhances the amount of available oxygen. Its display changes colours and it is blue when the air is good and the display turns to red when the air is bad in terms of quality. Moreover, the door pockets and utility spaces have been designed quite practically and that gives the Hyundai i20 a very user-friendly touch. The new i20 gets an electric sunroof as well which many of the buyers would want from a car of this segment.

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Talking of the rear seat experience, the new 2020 Hyundai i20 is longer and wider than its predecessor and that translates to more cabin space. With the driver seat adjusted to my preference and me being 5’8” tall, there is enough legroom and knee room to spare. Even the headroom is fine and in fact, if you are a few inches taller than me, you won’t have your head brushing up against the roof. The under-thigh support is also quite good and that combined with the good angle of the backrest, the new 2020 Hyundai i20 should turn out to be a really comfortable car especially for those long drives. You also get AC vents for the rear occupants along with USB fast charging sockets at the front and rear. The party piece is the Bose premium sound system which delivers good sound quality and hence, if you are someone who likes to enjoy music, the i20 is the best car for you in its segment.

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2020 Hyundai i20 – Engine performance

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Talking of the diesel engine, Hyundai has really worked on the refinement of the engine and even after pushing from 2,000-3,000 rpm, there is not much of a bother inside the cabin and the refinement levels are really good. With the added weight on the diesel version at the front, you will sense that it gives a more planted feel and you can turn the car with more confidence compared to the turbo because it is a little lightweight at the front. The 1.5-litre diesel engine is good for producing 99 hp of power and 250 Nm of torque. The car feels quite nippy and the only downer is that there is no automatic gearbox option with the diesel and the only option is a six-speed manual. In terms of its performance, there isn’t much to complain about as the shifts are smooth and short throws make the car really nice to drive. The clutch is also light so driving the car in the city and also, for long hours on the highway isn’t going to be a problem in our opinion.

Hyundai has really worked on the visibility from the driver seat and even if you are someone who likes to sit low down, you get so much of visibility. The A-pillars are not that intrusive and it’s a really comfortable and non-intrusive cabin. The one on the i20 is still the most powerful diesel engine in the segment and at the same time, it is the most fuel-efficient too.

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Now coming to the performance of the petrol engine, the 1.2-litre, well it is pretty much the same it was but if you are going in for CVT which Hyundai calls IVT, you get more power output at 88hp compared to 82 hp on the standard manual variant. The star of the show is the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine. One area where the Hyundai i20 was never best at was the driving performance and this engine option is trying to change that. This motor develops 118 hp of power along with 171 Nm of torque and you can choose either a 7-speed DCT and iMT (manual transmission with no clutch). The engine right from the word go feels nice and gets a low-end grunt. There is a turbo lag as well but once you pass that at about 1,500 rpm, things start to get better and once the engine starts to cross 1700-1800 rpm, that is when the motor comes into its element and you can feel the surge of the acceleration.

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The i20 with 118 hp is now the most powerful hatchback in the country and it even eclipses the Volkswagen Polo GT too. The power delivery is quite linear and the company claims a 9.9 second time for a sprint from 0 to 100 kmph. The DCT is a quick unit but not as quick as a DSG. The upshifts ad downshifts happen at a quick pace and if you are in the mood to have fun, it is a transmission that won’t disappoint you. The new 2020 Hyundai i20 is now a fun car to drive and finally, it’s a hot hatchback. Not only it is fast in a straight line but around corners too compared to its predecessor and owing to its new-age constriction, it is lighter at the same time. You can chuck it around corners with a lot of confidence, the mechanical grip is nice and you have a lot of active safety systems. Braking has also improved compared to the outgoing model and the company claims that the i20 stops in a shorter distance now.

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The steering also feels nice and easy when it comes to manoeuvring through tight spots and weighs up when speeds build-up but it has an artificial weight build-up, but not very communicative steering. The ride quality still remains good and the car strikes a perfect balance between a family car and one that lets you have fun so it pretty much offers the best of both worlds.

2020 Hyundai i20 – Verdict

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On paper, the new 2020 Hyundai i20 is clearly a better car than its rivals and in fact, there is no other car in the segment right now that can claim an equal status as the i20 as it is far ahead of its rival in terms of technology, features and multiple other things. So, that gives the new i20 a new benchmark in its segment and this car has every ounce of potential to become the new king of the segment.

Photography: Rahul Kapoor

2020 Hyundai i20 Review Specifications:

TURBO SPECS-
Engine: 998cc, 3-Cylinder, Turbo Petrol
Power: 118bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 171Nm @ 1,500-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic

DIESEL SPECS
Engine: 1,493cc, 4-Cylinder, Turbo Diesel
Power: 99bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1,500-2,750rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 2600mm
Length: 3,995mm
Width: 1,775mm
Height: 1,505mm

Tyres: 195/55 R16

SAFETY FEATURES
6 Airbags
ABS with EBD
VSM
ESP
HSA
ISOFIX
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

Price: 
1.0-Litre Turbo-GDI : Rs 8.8 lakh – Rs 11.17 lakh
1.2-Litre Petrol : Rs 6.8 lakh – Rs 9.7 lakh
1.5-Litre Diesel : Rs 8.2 lakh to Rs 10.6 lakh
All prices are ex-showroom, India

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