Launch Report: Hyundai i20 Facelift

Hot on the heels of the Grand i10 refresh, its bigger brother i20 just received an injection of youth.

How do you improve on perfection? While it may seem odd to use that term for the report of a Hyundai i20 refresh, I struggled to see where (or why) they even bothered. The outgoing model only arrived 2,5 years ago and in my humble opinion, it still looked perfectly modern while offering a great value proposition.

Hyundai obviously disagreed so they slapped new bumpers, a restyled tailgate and grill, cooler lights and some extra gadgets onto their best-selling hatchback. So much for the “where” and as for “why”, it simply boils down to the Korean manufacturer wanting to stay ahead of the ever-increasing pack of competitors.

Mr. Stanley Anderson, Sales and Operations Director at the mothership in South Africa, reiterates that i20 is one of their most important models and a top seller for almost a decade. He lead the presentation at their recent press launch in Franschoek and took the opportunity to introduce an all-new i20 model: the 1.4 Active.

This slightly raised and plastic-clad urban bruiser would be called “Cross” in rival price lists, doesn’t feature 4×4 goodies but should easily manage dirt roads and farm tracks. The Active was already overseas but only brought in with this facelift, unfortunately replacing the range-topping (and S.A.-devised) 1.4 Sport.

The new tailgate mentioned earlier sees the rear number plate move upwards from the bumper – a fact the author appreciates – although this isn’t the case in the butch 1.4 Active / Cross model. As compensation, it exclusively offers corner lights and red or blue highlights in its trendy pattern cloth upholstery and stylish dashboard.

Standard features across the range include ABS brakes with EBD, remote central locking, two airbags, front power windows, 60/40 rear folding seats (285 to 1,000L boot space) and a decent infotainment system with optional navigation. Posher “Fluid” models get climate control, rear park peepers and 16-inch alloys while most 1.4 i20’s have auto lights and LED daytime running lights.

Almost 88,000 units were sold since southern Africa first welcomed the i20 in 2009 (we attended that launch, click here) and the range has seen many upgrades over those nine years. Currently, there are two engines, two gearboxes, two body shapes, three trim levels and six colours available in a price range from 240,000 to 295,000:

  • 1.2 Motion 5MT       N$239,900
  • 1.2 Fluid 5MT           N$251,900
  • 1.4 Motion 4AT        N$264,900
  • 1.4 Fluid 4AT            N$294,900
  • 1.4 Fluid 6MT           N$276,900
  • 1.4 Active 6MT         N$289,900

Please check pricing and availability with your nearest Namibian dealership!

Maximum outputs are 61kW and 115Nm for the 1.2L while the 1.4L delivers 74kW or 133Nm. Average fuel consumption is claimed at 5.9L/100km for the 1.2L (only available with a five-speed manual gearbox) and between 6.5 to 7.5 for its bigger brother which can be had with a six-speed stick or four-speed auto’box.

We drove the smallest and biggest i20 model at the launch and while the 1.2 needs encouragement and planning to drive quickly, both cars exhibited good road holding and a comfy ride at most speeds. The steering and rear suspension felt somewhat lifeless at times but that’s par for the course in a city hatchback.

Buyers up-country, at higher altitudes, may want to drive a turbo-charged competitor but they’re likely to pay more for the equivalent specifications… and possible maintenance in the future. Never mind the simpler self-breathing engines of these Hyundais, they all come with a whopping seven-year or 200,000km warranty.

All 1.2L models come with a two-year/30,000km service plan while 1.4’s offer three years or 60,000km. That makes every new Hyundai i20 a sensible proposition, especially when compared to main rivals spec-for-spec. As mentioned before, their combination of design, technology and value for money seems pretty perfect to me.

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