Not sensational but very sensible

Hyundai’s i20 is a supermini package that very firmly appeals to the head rather than the heart.

But in facelifted first generation form, it’s at least a little easier to make a sensible decision to buy one, thanks to more appealing styling inside and out.

There are even more frugal engines on offer and the same value pricing and long warranty.

The variant we tried was powered by the 1.2-litre petrol engine that most i20 customers choose, good for 84bhp. That power output is reached at a heady 6,000rpm, but it’s no great hardship to have to row the car along using all of the engine’s revs like this.

Do so, and you’ll find this Hyundai to be reasonably rapid and light on its feet, the 12.7s 0-60mph figure slightly quicker than a comparable Ford Fiesta 1.25, with the 119Nm of pulling power enough to catapult you past that swaying arctic in front nearly a second quicker between 40-60mph in 4th gear than you’d be able to manage in a more powerful Fiesta petrol 1.4.

All of which for me defeats the point of forking out more for the i20’s top spec petrol engine, a 99bhp 1.4-litre unit that really doesn’t feel that much quicker than the 1.2., but does have the advantage that it can be specified with a four-speed auto transmission, in which guise this car really is rather slow.

Quite rightly, most potential urban buyers will be more interested in the six-speed manual CRDi diesel options, either a hugely economical (but very leisurely) three-cylinder 1.1-litre variant that takes nearly 16s to reach sixty. Or a more satisfying 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel that’s over two seconds faster but more importantly, makes a surprisingly competent motorway car with its tall gearing, decent torque and supple suspension. Overall, my money would always go on this petrol 1.2 though. It’s just got a bit more about it.

The most noticeable styling addition to this revised first generation i20 is the hexagonal front grille that marks out all the Korean brand’s most recent designs, while to complement it, there are also more rounded front wings and a re-shaped bonnet. The headlights, fog light clusters and daytime running lights are also a good deal more assertive in their design, while at the back, the i20 gets a redesigned rear bumper and tail lights. But the basics haven’t changed. Overall, we’ve a shape here that’s longer, narrower and taller than, say a rival Fiesta, but not by enough to significantly differ from that car in terms of overall packaging.

There wasn’t much wrong with the original version of this i20 that a bit of personality wouldn’t have put right. Well, this revised version delivers that, along with a smarter cabin, stronger equipment levels and lower running costs. True, pricing has crept up a little but this Hyundai still remains one of the value leaders in the supermini segment, especially when you take its class-leading specification into account.

What’s not to like? Well, there are trendier, high-tech, more avant garde rivals. And some of them are better to drive too. But if you can find a car in this class that makes more sense when you add together all the really important attributes that families look for in a supermini of this sort, you’ll be doing very well.

And these, remember, are times that, more than ever, call for sensible decisions. Like purchase of an i20? If you’re target market for this car, you might well think so.

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