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Date: 11 Jun 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
Hyundai Automotive South Africa has come a long way in the last 10 years, and are continuing its success in the segment for mid-sized hatchbacks by introducing a refreshed i20 line-up with a more modern design, and the addition of a 1.4 Active flagship derivative. Since the launch of the first i20 range in South Africa in 2009, Hyundai Automotive SA has sold 87 839 of these hatchbacks - making it one of the mainstays in the Hyundai model line-up in the country.

The refreshed i20 range consists of six derivatives, which includes the range-topping 1.4 Active that takes the place of the outgoing 1.4 Sport. The other five derivatives, with a slightly different styling than the Active, are the 1.2 Motion and 1.2 Fluid - both with a five-speed manual transmission; the 1.4 Motion and 1.4 Fluid - with a four-speed automatic transmission; and the 1.4 Fluid with a six-speed manual transmission. The 1.4 Active also comes with the six-speed manual transmission.

The 1.2 derivatives come with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.4’s are coupled with a six-speed manual transmission. The automatic transmission for the i20 has four forward ratios. Fuel economy was measured at 5.9 litres/100 km for the i20 1.2 manual; 7.5 litres/100 km for the i20 1.4 automatic; and 6.5 and 6.7 litres/100 km respectively for the 1.4 Fluid manual and 1.4 Active manual. Maximum speeds range from 165 km/h for the i20 1.2 manual derivatives to 182 km/h for the 1.4 manual.

The refreshed i20 range offers a choice of two petrol multi-point fuel-injection powertrains; the Kappa 1 197 cc engine with a 61 kW maximum power output at 6 000 r/min and the Kappa 1 368 cc engine generating a maximum output of 74 kW, also at 6 000 r/min. The 1.2-litre engine's maximum torque delivery is 115 Nm at 4 000 r/min, and the 1.4-litre engine generates 133 Nm at 3 500 r/min.

Ground clearance for the Motion and Fluid derivatives is 15 cm, but it was raised to 17 cm for the 1.4 Active, which - coupled with its 16-inch wheels and ample tyre profile - makes the Active a very capable car on a gravel road. Viewed from the front the new i20 is recognized by the redesigned front bumpers, including the cascading grille on the Motion and Fluid derivatives. The 1.4 Fluid and Active derivatives also come with LED daytime running lights and fog lights. The rear of the i20 Motion, Fluid and Active also has updated bumpers and rear combination lamps, while the tailgate has been reworked to integrate the license plate.

The new Hyundai i20 also adds new 16-inch alloy wheels for the Fluid and Active derivatives, while the i20 Motion runs on steel wheels with full plastic wheel covers, plus the Motion and Fluid derivatives have body-colored front and rear bumper styling. The Active has been given the appearance of a small SUV. It has a different grille and fog lights, with silver cladding on the matt-black front and back bumper, a higher ground clearance, roof rails makes the fitment of activity gear such as bicycle carriers or a roof box for camping gear easy on the Active.

Moving inside the new i20 benefits from a new dash board and center console, which contributes to the neat layout and very functional interior features of the i20. The i20’s are nice and roomy inside and will quite easily accommodate three passengers on the rear bench seat. Oddment storage is provided for in the smallish cubby, large cup holders in the center console, 1.5-litre bottle holders in the front doors, 1-litre bottle holders in the rear doors. The Fluid and Active derivatives have a storage compartment underneath the front armrest that can move forward for more comfort. Boot space is generous for a hatchback with a boot capacity of 285 litres, and 1 001 litres with the rear seatbacks folded down.

The new i20 Active is distinguished from its Motion and Fluid siblings by red or blue color trim around the air vent, gear lever console and gear knob. The Active's seat also boasts color inlays to add to its bolder nature. Standard equipment in the new Hyundai i120 includes; an infotainment system in the middle console that integrates seamlessly via Bluetooth with the driver's smartphone and offers excellent sound quality through its four speakers which can be customized by the equalizer on the new seven-inch touch-screen display. The i20 also comes with a USB charger so passengers can recharge their mobile devices, while it also acts as an alternative connection to the music sound system when Bluetooth is not used. An AUX cable port is also provided. The functions of the infotainment system can be expanded to include satellite navigation by purchasing an optional SD memory card for R2 500.

The Motion derivatives come with manual air conditioners, while the Fluid and Active versions come with automatic climate control as a standard luxury feature. All derivatives have glove box cooling by the air conditioner. All models have a multi-function steering wheel with remote controls for the sound system's audio control, Bluetooth telephone connection and the on-board computer, which shows average fuel consumption and speed, distance to empty for the fuel tank, immediate fuel consumption and two trip meters.

In the stopping department, all derivatives have ventilated disc brakes in front and solid disc brakes at the rear, with a 4-wheel electronic, 4-channel and 4-sensor Anti-lock Braking System, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Passive safety is taken care of by a driver and passenger's airbag in all derivatives and four three-point safety belts – two at the front and two at the rear - which are equipped with pre-tensioners and are height-adjustable for front occupants. A lap belt is provided for a third, middle occupant on the rear bench.

At the Umhlanga based launch, I had the opportunity to drive two derivatives, starting with the entry level i20 1.2 Motion 5-speed manual and the top of the range all new i20 1.4 Active 6-speed manual. From behind the steering wheel, the front bucket seats are fully adjustable as is the steering column, so it was simple to find a decent driving position. The seats were extremely comfortable, the pedals well positioned, and vision is quite good with hardly a blind spot. The drive was over a set route which took us up the KZN North Coast freeways and inland into the sugar cane growing areas, where the old sugar cane roads are still rough and potholed in places. Start the i20 1.2 Motion 5-speed manual and at tick-over you can barely tell the engine is running at all– testament Hyundai’s improvements in sound-deadening. For around town, the car is easy to park in tight spots, while on the road the new i20 is incredibly refined – it’s quiet and relaxed on the freeways, and even at 120 km/h there's minimal road or engine noise. Although the i20 1.2 Motion is quite comfortable travelling at the 120 km/h legal limit in 5th gear on the freeways, it does feel like it could do with a bit more power, as up the more steeper hills one has to drop a couple of gears to keep it on the boil. The new improved suspension works well, and the i20 handles the corners with plenty of front end grip and reassuring stability.

Switching to the new i20 1.4 Active 6-speed manual was highlighted by the addition of power. At a steady 120 km/h in 6th gear ,the rev counter registers just 3 500 RPM, and in terms of fuel consumption we averaged 6.5 litres per 100 km, but then I pushed the i20 Active quite hard in places to test its ability, so that figure is pretty good. The handling of the i20 Active proved itself through the twisty bends from the N2 freeway to the M4 North and back again, and the suspension and road-holding was excellent. Even on the poor quality roads, the i20 was smooth and well equipped to dodge the potholes, while the motor driven power-steering does a good job in helping pilot the car around a series of fast bends. The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick action and the extra couple of cm of ground clearance makes quite a difference on gravel roads.

The recommended retail selling prices for the refreshed Hyundai i20 is starting at R229 900 for the i20 1.2 Motion 5-speed manual to R279 900 for the i20 1.4 Active 6-speed manual. Prices includethe 2-year / 30 000 km service plan for 1.2-litre derivatives, a 3-year / 60 000 service plan for 1.4-litre derivatives, as well as the standard 5-year / 150 000 km manufacturer's warranty which is extended with an additional 2 years or 50 000 km powertrain warranty across the range.

Full Price List:
i20 1.2 Motion (manual)               R229 900
i20 1.2 Fluid (manual)                  R241 900
i20 1.4 Motion (automatic)           R254 900
i20 1.4 Fluid (automatic)              R284 900
i20 1.4 Fluid (manual)                  R266 900
i20 1.4 Active (manual)                        R279 900
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