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Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort 2009 Road Test

Wed, 18 Feb 2009

My week with a Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort didn’t start well. It began with a 120-mile drive through one of the worst rainstorms I can remember down to Poole harbour.

And it wasn’t until I was past the end of the M27 that I realised the tank had been delivered just a quarter full. If I didn’t find a fuel station fast I was going to run out.

Fortunately the econometer was reading 53.3mpg, so as I kept passing fuel stations either on the wrong side of the dual carriageway or behind an impenetrable barrier there was just a chance I might get to one I could get to.

And, I did, poured £20, and carried on my way to the Abarth 500 launch without making a single wrong turn.

Apart from its startling economy, the adverse conditions revealed some of the car’s other qualities.

The steering is centre weighted, robbing it of some feel on the straight ahead but helping it to track straight through several centimetres of water. The height adjustable drivers seat is hard, but comfortable on a challenging run. The power characteristics help you keep precisely to a speed on the clear, unwavering and very accurate speedometer. The trip recorder is easy to understand on the fly. The radio works fine. The wipers wipe.

So after what could very easily have been the journey from hell I actually arrived at the appropriately named Poole with a smile on my face.

Over the subsequent week I clocked up another 300 miles in more pleasant driving conditions. My average economy dropped a bit as I turned up the wick, to a low of 46. I put another £20 in the tank, yet still ended up returning the car with more fuel than it had come with. So no complaints there. And further proof that the 55mpg I thought I averaged in the smaller i10 with the same excellent 82kg, all alloy 1,248cc chain-cam Kappa engine was probably accurate.

The i20 is Fiesta sized, but much more commodious. You sit slightly more upright, there’s more head and legroom and five people could comfortably travel some distance in the car. Though they’d probably need the 1.4 petrol or diesel engine to haul them up motorway inclines.

The steering and handling aren’t fun like the Mazda 2 or the Suzuki Swift, and not as close to perfection as the latest Fiesta. You don’t get a buzz out of driving this car. But it does cling on safely way past any demands a normal driver is likely to inflict on it. It’s better than a Corsa, a Polo or a standard model Clio.

You’re handed a decent amount of kit for your outlay. No skimping on things like aircon just to get a lower emissions rating. All i20s are refrigerated.

You get driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, passenger airbag off switch, electric front windows, radio/CD player with Aux in socket, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, active head restraints, height adjustable drivers seat, ABS with EBD, tinted glass, rear wash/wipe, ISOFIX rear outer child seat tethers, and emote central locking with a folding key with even the basest of versions. Plus a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty. Soon they’ll all also come with standard ESP.

That’s not bad for £8,645 5-door, 5-seater hatchback. And part of the reason why CAP has predicted a high 47% of list residual value after 3 years and 30,000 miles, 5 percentage points more than an equivalent Fiesta and 12 percentage points more than a Polo or a Corsa. So it’s almost an investment.

In April there will also be a £500 cheaper 3-door version. While both power outputs of 1.4 diesel engines are well under 121g/km so in the £35 tax bracket that drops to £30 for 2010-2011.

Would I buy one? No. The smaller i10 with the 1.2 Kappa engine does all I want from a car.

But, without wanting to sound patronising, anyone with kids and on a tight budget will find it hard to do better than an i20.

It’s not just good value with an excellent 5 year unlimited mileage warranty.

It’s a good car.

For prices, specifications, engines, transmissions, dimensions and performance figures please click the tabs.

More at www.hyundai.co.uk

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