Hyundai i20 Review 2024

Hyundai i20 At A Glance

3/5
Honest John Overall Rating
There's nothing massively wrong with how the Hyundai i20 goes about its business but then, aside from its rear-seat space, there's nothing astonishingly good either, making it hard to recommend against near-perfect rivals like the Volkswagen Polo.

+You get lots of equipment for your money, the back seat is roomy, plus the mild-hybrid engine is economical and nippy.

-Already looks dated, isn't as fun nor as comfortable to drive as rivals and the interior feels uninspiringly cheap.

New prices start from £16,500, brokers can source from £18,185
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

Rightly so, much has been made of Hyundai's climb from budget brand to mainstream carmaker that occasionally nibbles on the heels of premium models. But, in many ways, the Hyundai i20 feels like a car that's caught back in time – its generous equipment list and excellent warranty designed to make up for the fact that it's fundamentally off the pace. We'll find out in this full review if it's enough for the Hyundai i20 to convince.

And the Hyundai i20 comes loaded with kit, gets decent infotainment and has a high-tech engine that provides nippy performance and decent fuel economy. In an uncompetitive class that would be enough to rocket it to the top of your shopping list, but the small car class is far from uncompetitive and, up against its rivals, the i20 struggles to shine. It matches a Volkswagen Polo for space, but gets nowhere near its interior quality and can't compete with its finely tuned balance between being comfortable and enjoyable to drive. As such, the i20's generous equipment list seems like an attempt to hide its deficiencies, rather than enhance its qualities. 

If that sounds harsh it shouldn't do because the i20 is up against cars that are pound-for-pound some of the best currently on sale. When you're up against the MINI, Peugeot 208, Skoda Fabia, Toyota Aygo X, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo... You get the picture.

It gets off to a shaky start with its looks. They comprise piercing headlights, an angular grille and a variety of overlapping body creases that make for a fussy overall appearance, which the neat back end – complete with its wraparound rear lights – doesn't rectify. More striking than the vanilla old model? Sure. Genuinely good looking? That's for you to decide.

Things get worse on the inside where the interior really isn't good enough. You sense that a lot of new cars have to sacrifice overall quality to provide you with (what seems like) compulsory large infotainment screens – and the i20's displays are the some of the biggest you'll find at this price point.

Perhaps because of this, the rest of the cabin has vast swathes of cheap-feeling plastics that don't cut it when rivals like the Volkswagen Polo and Toyota Yaris all treat you to flashes of softer, more expensive feeling materials.

Where the i20 matches the Polo and has the measure of the other two is interior space. Upfront, the range of seat adjustment means whether you're tall, small, have long arms or short legs – you'll be able to get a comfortable driving position. Meanwhile, try out the back seat and you'll find your passengers get a surprising amount of knee room in what is, remember, Hyundai's second smallest car.

What you don't get is a wide range of engines because (ignoring the i20 N hot hatch) there's only one option – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol that produces 100PS and is boosted by a small electric motor via a 48V electrical supply. It's a combination that delivers decent performance and fuel economy but isn't as characterful as similar units fitted to other small cars. However, there is the option of a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The driving experience also wants for defining features. The Hyundai's composed and grippy in bends, just as previous i20s managed. However, it lacks the cheeky nimbleness of a Ford Fiesta or the well-behaved fluidity and comfort of a Volkswagen Polo, because of this the Hyundai's not very memorable.

And that sums up the i20. There's nothing glaringly wrong with it in isolation but what it fails to serve up is that little bit of magic that separates a good car from a great car. Unfortunately for the i20, more than one of its rivals hits on that winning formula.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's review of the Hyundai i20.

Ask Honest John

Are there any small cars with heated seats?

"My wife has a bad back and really values heated seats. We fitted heated seat covers to her Volkswagen Polo, which work reasonably well However, we are about to replace the car and wondered if there is a Polo-sized car which comes with heated front seats as standard, please?"
Another Volkswagen Polo might be a good option - it's one of the best small cars on sale and, while heated seats aren't standard, they are available as an option. Alternatively, the Hyundai i20 is a great little car with heated seats as standard on Premium and Ultimate models.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What reliable car do you recommend for two pensioners?

"We are looking to buy a car with a budget between of between £8k to £12k. We will be covering between 4000 to 5000 miles every year. We are pensioners and so are looking for a reliable car that's easily maintained and cheap to insure. We would like your opinion."
We'd recommend a Toyota Yaris Hybrid - it's likely to be exceptionally reliable and cheap to run. Also consider a petrol Hyundai i20 or a Honda Jazz.
Answered by Andrew Brady

I need a replacement for a Ford B-MAX that offers better ride comfort?

"My wife currently has a Ford B-MAX. It’s great for grandchildren but she no longer wants to drive at night due to the appalling headlights and she would like something that doesn’t expose every imperfection in the road surface. Budget is low £20,000s. What would you recommended?"
We would suggest looking at cars such as the Skoda Fabia, Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20, all of which have decent ride quality and are available well within budget.
Answered by David Ross

Which engine should I choose for high motorway mileage?

"I travel more than 20,000 miles per annum on a motorway. What is a GDI engine? How does it compare to other 1.4 i20s and diesel CRDi for fuel economy and reliability? "
The last-generation Hyundai i20 was initially offered with a naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre petrol engine. This felt quite underpowered compared to the punchy 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol that replaced it. We'd recommend a diesel for your miles - it'll be more efficient and ought to be very reliable.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Hyundai i20 cost?

Buy new from £18,185(list price from £20,770)