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  • Willing engine; boot size; comfortable seats; five-year warranty; capped price servicing
  • Vague steering; firm ride; pricing not that sharp; exterior and interior design out of step with latest-generation Hyundais

6 / 10

Hyundai i20 Review
Hyundai i20 Review
Hyundai i20 Review
by Jez Spinks

You could say the little Hyundai i20 has big shoes to fill.

The city car now solely occupies a spot that was once the domain of the Getz that sold by the bucket load every month.

After a relatively slow sales start following its 2010 arrival – two years after its global release – the South Korean brand’s Indian-built Hyundai i20 is starting to assert itself in a segment currently dominated by the Toyota Yaris and Mazda2, but keenly contested by the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Holden Barina and Suzuki Swift.

In mid 2012 the i20 was given a visual, mechanical and specification makeover, though while the designed-in-Germany sheetmetal looks tidy – and has a maturer-looking front end with downsized headlights – it’s still clearly lacking the more extrovert styling of Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ family styling language.

A three-door version of the Hyundai i20 keeps the starting price below $16,000 – important in this segment – with the $15,590 Active manual (before on-road costs are added).

The more practical five-door i20 asks a minimum of $16,590, however, and that makes it more expensive than almost all of its key rivals: Mazda2 (from $15,790), Fiesta (from $15,490), Honda Jazz (from $14,990), Swift ($15,990), Barina (from $15,990), and Yaris (from $15,690).

Hyundai i20 Review
Hyundai i20 Review
Hyundai i20 Review
Hyundai i20 Review

The Active trim is available again on the five-door i20, with an Elite model costing from $17,590.

If you want an automatic gearbox instead of the standard six-speed manual, you’ll need to find another $2000 for each variant.

Key Active features comprise 14-inch steel wheels (with full-size spare), stability control, six airbags, Bluetooth with streaming, USB input and iPod connectivity, electrically adjustable and folding side mirrors, electric windows and trip computer.

The Hyundai i20 Elite five-door adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, higher-grade steering wheel with controls, six rather than four audio speakers, digital clock and an elastic luggage net in the boot.

Every i20 features a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with Hyundai reserving its bigger 1.6 for the Accent hatch and sedan that competes in the same category.

A 1.4 is smaller than the norm though its outputs of 74kW and 136Nm are average.

It’s short of the 89kW/151Nm figures of the Fiesta’s 1.6, though, and the i20’s engine is no match for the Ford’s relatively torquey unit nor the Mazda2’s sprightly 1.5-litre.

The 1.4 needs to be worked hard to gain significant momentum, and downshifts (if you’re driving the manual) will be a must whenever hills are encountered or overtaking is required.

Hyundai i20 Review

It’s a trier, though; the 1.4 is endearingly eager and initial throttle response has the kind of perkiness that’s welcome in the city.

The six-speed manual has a light and easy action even if it’s rather rubbery.

Official combined fuel consumption is lowest with this gearbox, at 5.3 litres per 100km, with the four-speed auto’s figure rated at 5.9L/100km.

Hyundai worked on the i20’s local suspension tuning as part of its update. It’s a little easier to live with now, though the ride is still overly firm for a city car and the i20 thumps over prominent surface joins.

That stiffness doesn’t translate into exciting dynamics, either. The i20 hangs on in corners when pushed, but it simply lacks the fun-to-drive capabilities of the Mazda2, Volkswagen Polo and especially the benchmark Fiesta that also ride more comfortably.

Excellent steering also continues to elude South Korean engineers. The i20’s tiller is vague and numb, and it also adds electric assistance when you don’t expect it.

If you’ve sat in any other current Hyundais, you’ll notice the interior also pre-dates the company’s latest design approach.

So the i20 is barely any more inspiring to look at than the plain-Jane Getz. The instrument dials are a touch bland and the centre stack is just a big slab of silver plastic.

On the plus side, the controls are all simply to find and use, and the front seats are very comfortable. And a convenient driving position is helped by the steering wheel that adjusts both up/down and out/in.

Up back, the Hyundai i20 doesn’t provide the most rear legroom in the class but it’s not cramped, either.

The rear seats split fold, too, to expand the cargo space of a boot that is one of the biggest in the class at 295 litres (even with that full-size spare wheel under the boot floor).

With running costs a major consideration for city car buyers, the Hyundai i20 also comes with a five-year warranty that’s two years longer than those offered by most rivals (not sister brand Kia with the Rio) as well as capped-price servicing.

The latter means i20 owners know up front that it will cost them just $567 for three services staggered at 15,000km intervals.

A five-star independent crash rating brings further peace of mind.

The Hyundai i20, then, is not short of tempting points, but overall it remains well down the league table of city cars, sitting below the sister Rio even and a fair gap behind the front-running Mazda2, Fiesta and Polo.

Hyundai i20 range
Hyundai i20 Active 3dr manual $15,590
Hyundai i20 Active 3dr auto $17,590
Hyundai i20 Active 5dr manual $16,590
Hyundai i20 Active 5dr auto $18,590
Hyundai i20 Elite 5dr manual $17,590
Hyundai i20 Elite 5dr auto $19,590

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Hyundai i20 Review
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  • Sumpguard

    Too dear. 

          Kia Rio which is a much better car can be had for $13990 drive away at entry level.

    • JD

      Its going to yaris, fiesta pricing range. Hyundai likes increasing prices these days.

    • Showtime

      Hyundai are currently doing $13,990 drive-away for the 3 door active manual. I was looking at getting one as a cheap run-around car, but thought it looked to feminine (like most light cars these days).

      • Rastus

        Funny but a  few ladies I know think quite the opposite and that guys who drive cars like this are very confident of their sexuality and are likely to have a big wiener.
        And that guys who drive the muscle cars are somewhat lacking.
        So you don’t need to worry about buying the girly boy car it might improve your love life!

        • Showtime

          Well I asked my wife what she thought of me buying an i20. She told me to get the darkest window tint so I don’t get seen driving it.

          • Rastus

            Yeah she scared girls will want to hit on you

          • RSC200



          • Morphian

            Haha nice… made me laugh.

        • Golfmother

          Agreed , more to the point FAT guys look small in a crummercoon , slim guys can drive any car .

    • Zaccy16

      Exactly, this is way behind rivals in everyway and should be alot cheaper

  • Martin

    I think the pre-update exterior looks better unfortunately. The replacement should look pretty attractive however!

  • RiderX

    Got this baby (3 door) for $14000 with auto as my runabout 2nd car. I haven’t been able to drive it too much because my wife wouldn’t let this go. For the price point, i20 is incredible. It’s fuel efficient (got 7.2l with three adults around the town) and looks good and goes well. 

    What’s up with journos going on about cornering for a car like this? If they are doing Veloster, fair enough. Steering wheel is numb for sure, but since I don’t pretend I’m a boy racer, it’s plenty okay with me. For myself personally the two most important aspects of a car like this are (1) value for money & (2) safety.  

    When I did my sum, i20 for the price I paid was cheaper than Polo at least by 30% and with $189 cap service (for three years though) plus 7 year roadside assist and 5 year warranty, plus cheap insurance, it was absolutely no brainer. I also looked at Alto but i20 was more powerful and far better interiors and bigger as well. Also I know it’s a bit of gimmick but I was surprised  that it had electronic folding side mirrors with indicators. 

    Previously I wouldn’t have touched cars like Getz because they just weren’t safe enough for my family but this is a game changer, and when I picked the car up, I was wondering  how the hell they make any money out of this deal.  

    If you want a second car and don’t want to spend too much money, this car will do you very well. 

    • Gfdg

      It’s made in India, that’s why it’s cheap.

      • Zaccy16

        badly made like the alto, the interior is one of the worst with the barina is this class i think

    • Showtime

       Is there a foot rest next to the clutch?

      • RiderX

        I bought an auto so I can’t answer for that for you, however I can confirm mine does have a big foot rest to the left.

        • Showtime

          Thanks for the reply. I would imagine there would be one next to the clutch then. It’s so tempting to get one of these as a run around car!

          • RiderX

            Showtime, for a run around car I20 cannot be beaten for this price. I am really impressed with the interior of the car even after a week we bought it. Really solid and good feels. However I also noticed a couple of minor poor finish – in one case a hair of plastic was sticking out from the gear stick plate, probably due to the plastic wasn’t cut cleanly. Also there was a small glue residual from the dashboard. Barely visible but still. But overall very happy with the purchase. 

    • Henry Toussaint

       The Getz earned a 4 out of 5 star saftey rating with the optianal side airbags..so it was safe..ish

      • Zaccy16

        safe on paper but having to drive a getz for a month when my mazda 6 was being repaired from a crash showed that it was one of the worst cars i had ever driven, you could hear the chassis creaking over speed humps!

      • RiderX

        Henry, most Getz running out there is without airbags. Plus the used car safety rating for Getz is one star. No I wouldn’t buy it for my family. I can testify however I20 is solid, designed to be a safe car from get go. Very happy so far.  

    • MichaelLock

      I hope you’re right RiderX as I am picking up our 5dr Elite Auto today, I got a killer deal on it as December is the last financial month for Hyundai….$16,200 Driveaway, that’s just over $5,500 off the full list price with on-road costs.

      We are also using this car as a family 2nd car runabout but as I work from home and do the school run and shops I will be mainly using it. I could not believe how comfortable these cars are for big framed (not fat) guys like me to fit into, the cabin is a really nice place to be and the driving position is perfect. My shoulder doesn’t touch the B pillar nor does my left knee rub or hit against anything.

      I think our family is going to really enjoy this car over the next 3 years, add in the 7 years road assist, 5 years warranty, capped price servicing and unbelievable driveaway price I was able to get and like you said…”It’s a no brainer”

    • MisterZed

      I find it a little hard to believe you got a brand-new one for $14k on-road. RRP for the 3-door auto is $17,590, and the cheapest price I’ve seen is the current offer of $14,990 drive-away. I am very doubtful that a dealer would chop off another $1k from that price as there would be virtually no profit in it even at $14,990 on road.

  • MisterZed

    How come in one photo, the controls for the lights are shown on a stalk to the left of the steering wheel, while in the next photo, they’re on the right?  Both photos show a RHD car…?

    • Dave W

      They probably got a photo of a left hand drive one and decided to flip it in Photoshop.

      If you look at the center console, the AC is different but you can see the temperature control (the knob with blue to red colour) is on the opposite side as well.

    • Able

      The one with the left indicator stalk is the UK spec car; their cars have the indicators on the left despite being on the same side of the road. This is also seen in the radio and climate controls, both different to here.

  • Dave W

    Steering, steering, steering… Can’t any of your motoring journos email your Hyundai contact and tell them about the vague steering and to fix it? Oh and tell them that while they’re getting much better than before, they’re not up there yet, so ease up on the pricing.

    • Zaccy16

      exactly dave, the phrase ‘fun to drive and good steering’ must not translate well into korean!

  • Apple_r

    The price of base model Mazda2 Neo is almost similar with 5dr i20, but it has cruise control, which is convenient to have.
    Does anyone have any experience driving i20 and Mazda2, which one is more enjoyable to drive?

    • Z3133054

      Obviously the Mazda2 is miles ahead in driving enjoyment

    • Zaccy16

      mazda 2 by a huge margin, i used to own one and it put a grin on my face every time i drove it!

  • Dennis

    Is it just me? Cause i don’t find the value in this segment….

  • Guest

    A decent car. But I would rather throw anther grand and buy Kia Rio. 

  • Tex

    I think we’re forgetting the Hyundai Ascent.

    1.6L Active Ascent for $16,990 (Korean)
    1.4L Active i20 for $16,490 (Indian)

    Let me have a think…

    • nickdl

      The i20 is actually $14k driveaway at the moment, have another think.

      • MisterZed

        The 3-door is $13,990 drive-away. The 5-door is $1,000 more.

  • Don Quay

    It was an average piece of whitegoods when it was released and it hasn’t changed for the better realy with this update. There is no reason to buy this over a Mazda2, Fiesta or even the new VW UP. They are all so much better then the i20. Mazda and Ford are advertising the 5 door manuals at $16K drive away. Hyundai’s website is only showing the 3 door for $14K, if you want a 5 door, they suggest $19.8K drive away. You could do better than that I suppose, but why would you want to?

    • Ben

      Obviously you haven’t seen Suzuki Alto nor Nissan Micra which are sub-$12,000 white goods. Hyundai i20 is miles better them and, of course it looks just much better than Mazda 2 as well. Plus Hyundai i20 is waaay much cheaper to run than Mazda 2.

      No wonder Hyundai i20 is selling far better than Mazda 2, even Yaris.

  • I20 active owner

    very poor review and largely in accurate. i hate reviews that a written by “fan boys” but this is clearly by someone that genuinely hates the car.

  • Keiralee

    I’ve had my i20 for a week now and love it….. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned…

  • Daniel

    ive rented the i20 on 5 separate occasions and wouldn’t hesitate to buy one my self. My only criticism is the weak aircon which struggled on all of them in the high 30’s.

Hyundai i20 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$9,020 - $10,250
Dealer Retail
$10,730 - $12,760
Dealer Trade
$7,200 - $8,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
136Nm @  4200rpm
Max. Power
74kW @  5500rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1000  Unbrake:450
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
185/60 R15
Rear Tyres
185/60 R15
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Torsion bar, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Mobile Phone Connectivity, Power Steering
Radio CD with 4 Speakers
Power Mirrors
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
60 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Under Front Seat
Country of Origin