Closer to the end of the last decade, an emergence of a new segment was witnessed — that of the premium hatchbacks. The Hyundai i20 had successfully turned the tables and made a mark for itself in a relatively short span of time. A long list of features, a wide range of engines, and a strong brand positioning helped it sail even against strong rivals like the Maruti Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Fiat Punto, among others. For the latest-generation version of the Hyundai i20, now called the Elite i20, the rivals might have changed, but its position hasn’t. It is as much the ‘go to’ car in the segment as it was back in the day, only possibly better.
Despite its wide presence, the Hyundai Elite i20 makes one turn around for another look at it. Which is a great thing, because at the price point it retails, not a lot of cars manage to do that. Bright colours suit it equally well as subtler shades. And even in the base versions bereft of alloy wheels, its charm doesn’t subside. Updated last in early 2018, the Elite i20 now sports refreshed styling but the overall design remains unchanged — and is good enough for the next few years. And if you’re wondering, there’s a dual-tone paint scheme available, too.
Hyundais have earned a reputation for feature-packed interiors, and the i20’s not far from that. The hatchback’s interior not only offers good space but also sits in line with the premium positioning. There’s a nice touchscreen infotainment system available while the top variants benefit from a more informative MID and up to six airbags. The crossover version, called the Hyundai i20 Active, benefits from a livelier cabin thanks to the use of more colours for the dashboard.
It has to be said that the Hyundai Elite i20 isn’t a driver’s car, so don’t expect on-the-limit handling finesse from this one. But despite that, it’s not a loose car to drive. It tackles the most everyday task rather well, and the range of engines has something for everyone.
So, for instance you’re looking for doing long distance drives, the Elite i20 Diesel fits the bill perfectly. Not only is the 1.4-litre diesel engine rich in torque delivery, with a six-speed manual gearbox,but you can also stretch its legs on the highway without overburdening the engine.
For those looking at city commutes, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is fine, although it’s not as strong as the powertrain choices in rivals, especially the Maruti Suzuki Baleno. The CVT-equipped version makes sense for those likely to rush-hour traffic. Like all CVTs, it’s got a learning curve but not a steep one.
Prices for the Hyundai Elite i20 (P) start at Rs 5.4 lakh while the diesel version is dearer by almost one and a half lakhs at Rs 6.79 lakh. The top-spec version costs Rs 9.21 lakh, which is quite some money but keep in mind that you get a fair bit of kit, and essentially a sedan-rivalling class, too.
The rivalry is confined to the Maruti Suzuki Baleno in terms of sales figures. It’s closely matched and it often comes down to personal preference and priorities. Other alternatives include the Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo, etc.