‘Elite i20’ – OK, But Price Tag Is Up

Launched at the end of 2008, one of the most popular hatchbacks – and quite a pricey one at that – the Hyundai i20 has been a raving success and has been long since one of the most important models of the Korean giant. After giving the i20 a face-lift in 2012, Hyundai has now launched the second generation model in India, since it has been very important for them in the Indian market. With the massive promotion and built-up expectations the ‘Elite i20’ as it is being called, has a lot to live up to.

The first thing that a buyer looks for in the car that they’re looking to buy is, of course, the design, visual appeal and the overall road presence of the car, and the public’s opinion on how the car looks has so far been cloudy since this isn’t a car one would decisively love or hate. The car supposedly follows the fluidic design philosophy with a faint resemblance to its predecessor at the front. The overall shape is slightly boxy on the sides, with straight running lines and clean, trimmed corners. The length of the car has been reduced by 10mm but that isn’t why it looks compact. The big grille on the front bumper, swept headlamps, tail lamps inspired from the Veloster, 16 inch wheels and the wraparound feel of the rear windshield courtesy of the blacked out C pillar, add a whole new appeal to the car, and for those who haven’t found the pictures attractive will most probably find the car very attractive in flesh.

The interiors are also brand new with the curves and fluid surfaces replaced by flat ones. The quality of the interior is absolutely up to the mark, like with all the i20s. The doors seem light though once couldn’t possibly find a fault with their build quality. There are a number of nooks and crannies spread out over the interior like storage bins, cup holders, sunglass holder, big door pockets and even a card holder. An audio system with 1 GB data storage, an automatic climate control system, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, a data-fed instrument cluster and the recently trending push button start with keyless go, makes it one of the biggest goodie-bags in hatchbacks.

The engine push start button is on the left, contrary to that of the Grand i10’s on the right. Rear windows are slightly smaller than the Grand, and just about equally roomy. The door lock and unlock button is right at the centre, above the hazard lights indicator. The steering wheel is well detailed with all the right buttons and function indications, and feels very good to hold. The air conditioning is fantastic and can freeze the cabin within minutes under normal conditions. Seats have a very comfortable structure and are extremely supportive for the back.

The car takes the bar higher on interior comfort and space. The wheelbase is elongated by 45mm, allowing the rear doors to open wider and making ingress and egress easier. The body is wide enough to allow three passengers to sit comfortably occupy in the rear. It has a surprising boot space of 285 litres which is ample for a hatch of its dimensions.

The Elite i20 shares its engine with its predecessors. The petrol version has a fairly satisfactory performance output, and the diesel one, with 1.4 litres and 90ps has impressive power delivery and is coupled to a six speed gear box – a first in the market segement.

To be honest, the petrol version could have done much better. The i20 has been in the market for quite some time and is also one of the biggest in the segment, and hence requires a more meaty, better performing powerhouse to do justice to the entire car. Otherwise, the clutch and gearbox on the i20 are light, smooth and efficient, providing for an effortless drive.

Hyundai has gone places in terms of improvement on the overall driving experience. The suspension is much stiffer than the older model and allows for a more stable, firm ride. Even some of the worst roads fail to make the car bounce around. The previous model was known to suffer handling issues mostly due to its soft suspension and a steering that felt too light. Even the brakes are better on the new i20 and the overall improved driving dynamics of the vehicle allow for a straight line stop even when the brakes are slammed hard.

To sum it up, the Hyundai i20 Elite is definitely a success and will surely bring in good numbers on sales. A much needed upgrade in almost all parameters, the car leaps over the older model and is set to appeal to a wide variety of people. The price tag is sure to be slightly higher but with the whole lot of improvements, a new styling avatar, countless gadgets and the next level of comfort, space and safety, the Elite i20 will definitely be a great car to buy.