Hyundai Elite i20 Review: The Elite One
The only company who dared to challenge the dominance of India’s largest car manufacturer has to be Hyundai. They made an entry with the Santro and till date it’s sold in decent numbers to be still in production.
The trend of premium hatchbacks which started with the Swift also saw Hyundai’s participation with the i20. It was a hatch that offered more space more features and better performance.
Now that i20 has carved its own space, Hyundai has launched its next generation version to make sure it competes with all in the best way possible. Ravishing looks, tweaked interiors and improved riding dynamics, the Elite i20 seems fully ready to take all head on. Our first impression report is here.
They have always pioneered new innovations in design. With their Fluidic Design philosophy, the gap between regular cars and premium offerings has reduced. Designed at Hyundai Motor’s Design Centre Europe in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the new Elite i20 is based on the second chapter of their iconic Fluidic Sculpture. The new design has got many characteristic features.
Now that we know it has been designed in Germany, the aggressive stance suddenly starts making sense. Moving on from bubble shaped headlamps, the Elite i20 gets wrap around headlamps and their positioning gives a wider stance. It gets a sketch line on top giving an impression of DRLs as seen on the flagship Santa Fe. There is a slim profile between the bonnet lip and the front bumper.
On the front profile, there is a straight cut hexagonal grille with a chrome surround. It does not gel with the overall fluidic character but it does not look a misfit in the front facia. It gets chunky large fog lamps neatly tucked beside the hexagonal radiator grille. The lower section of the front bumper has a chiselled edge.
Move to the side and you notice a segment first 16 inch diamond cut alloys. These alloys look really impressive as they occupy the wheel arch sufficiently. Door handles are finished in chrome. It gets a linear shoulder line which flows from the headlights to the tail lamps. This also accentuates the length of the car.
The most interesting part on the side profile is the blackened C-Pillar which gives it a floating roof look. External mirrors have LED turn indicators for better visibility and are auto retractable. It has the longest wheelbase compared in its segment. At 2570mm, it is greater compared to that of Maruti Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo and Nissan Micra. It is also longer and wider than these cars.
The front and side look impressive but one can’t stop raving about the gorgeously sleep tail lamps. It is very similar to the ones shown in the concept. These have to the best looking rear lights compared to any other hatch in India. Its three part design with a slender wing profile flowing on the rear makes it look amazing. At night, it almost looks like LEDs until one takes a closer look. The rear also gets a wider rear windshield. Rear bumpers have been revised with a two tone design. It now sports petite reflectors.
The interiors of the i20 have been revamped too to make it feel more premium and plush than the previous generation. The increase in dimensions especially by elongating the wheelbase has also increased the roominess inside the cabin.
It has a new instrumental panel with better scaling and a brighter blue and white display. The tilt and telescopic steering wheel gets multiple controls to control audio and Bluetooth functions. It also helps operate the information display on the central console. We just wished the display showed distance to empty and average fuel consumption in addition to the other information displayed.
The front dashboard reminded me particularly of the Grandi10 because of the similar overall design and general layout of different buttons and knobs. New AC vents design for the extreme sides while the one on central console gets a minor update. The small display screen mounted on the console feels too basic for a modern car like this. It fits in the space suitably but is not very high on options.
Indians needs features in everything they buy and Hyundai knows how to pamper such customers. There is a 2 DIN Audio with 1GB on board memory which also happens to be a segment first. Giving an onboard memory is an impressive feature especially if you are like me who loves hearing music on the move. It offers AUX and USB ports. The 8 speaker music system sadly doesn’t score much when it comes to music output. The speakers lack the finesse of a high end music system.
Shooting in Jodhpur is scenic and troublesome at the same time. Beautiful deserts and amazing roads benefit us with exotic locations but then extreme temperatures become unbearable at times. Thus, immediately after getting exteriors shots we sheltered inside the elite cabin as it gets a fully automatic climate control with cluster ionizer which cools the cabin instantly. Thankfully, the rear passengers don’t have to wait for the front section to cool down as they get rear AC vents. The cluster ionizer makes sure the cabin is odourless.
It feels spacious in the front section. Since the steering wheel has both tilt and telescopic adjustments, it creates generous knee room for the driver. Only the driver seat is height adjustable while the front passenger seat can be arranged horizontally. Dual tone beige and black seats are finished in good quality fabric. Front seats offer lumbar support in addition to the under thigh support. Rear passenger seats offer decent levels of support. They score higher in terms of offering knee room for the rear passengers.
Smart storage options like the storage area under the central armrest is of great help. There are twin cup holder on the central area and a console tray to keep mobile phones, IPods and other small utility items. It gets a glove box with an inbuilt cooler. All the doors have beverage holder pockets. There is a map pocket behind the front passenger seat only and not behind that of the driver’s seat for reasons unknown. The luggage area can take bags and other items worth 285 litres.
The i20 was always a well accepted product for its design and interiors but the only area where it faced criticism was in ride and handling. Hyundai took this feedback seriously the same in the new version to make it feel more engaging.
We chose the diesel Asta version over the petrol for our first impression report. The 1.4L U2 CRDi engine has been tweaked to improve power and torque delivery and bring down the vibrations. This 1396cc diesel engine produces 90Hp of power and 22.4kgm of torque between 1500 to 2750rpm. The torque delivery in this vast gap ensures a strong and meaty band for a longer time.
Once the engine crosses the 2200rpm mark, the torque kicks in effectively without any lag. At lower engine speeds, the diesel feels quicker and swifter than before. The lazy response and the drab feel of the engine have completely vanished.
It feels responsive at low engine speeds and the torque delivery remains at its best till the time it exits the mid range gap. The advantage of this can be felt in city traffic as well as on the highways especially during overtaking where there are occasions of sudden need of power. The diesel gets a 6 speed manual transmission whereas the petrol has to make do with a 5 speed manual transmission.
The six speed manual transmission also feels smoother than before. It shifts without any effort and even on shifting abruptly; the transmission box exudes enough confidence to maintain the high momentum. In fact, the impressive torque nature of the diesel engine also cuts down on the need to shift often at lower speeds.
Ride quality has improved as the vehicle feels more planted on the road than before. The steering bit still needs improvement as at higher speeds, the accuracy of the steering wheel drops a bit. It feels vague but this happens only at higher speeds. At lower speeds while manoeuvring the car in city traffic, the steering weighs in a balanced manner.
Handling potential has gone up. Normally, with increase in dimensions the handling of a vehicle takes severe beating but not in the new i20 as the weight distribution has been improved drastically. Around the corners, the 195/55 R16 tyres held on to the tarmac with great ease. These tyres come as a standard fitment only in Sportz (O) and Asta while the other variants namely Era, Magna and Sportz get 185/70 R14 tyres.
|Variant||1.4L U2 CRDi 6-Speed Manual Asta|
|Power in PS / RPM||90 / 4,000|
|Torque in kg-m / RPM||22.4 / 1,500 - 2,750|
|Gears||6 Speed Manual|
|Wheel base mm||2570|
|Fuel tank capacity L||45|
|Tyre Spec||195/55 R16|
|Anti-lock braking system (ABS)||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Headlamp Escort Function||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Turn Indicators on Outside Mirrors||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Chrome Outside Door Handles||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Dual tone rear bumper||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Waistline moulding (Black)||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Full Wheel Covers||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|2-Tone Beige & Black Interior||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front & Rear Door Map Pockets||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front Passenger Seat Back Pocket||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Parcel Tray||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Blue interior illumination||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2-DIN Integrated Radio+MP3 Player||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|CD player on audio||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1GB internal memory||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front & Rear Speakers||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Aux & USB Ports||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear AC vents||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Theater dimming central room lamp||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front map lamp||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Intermittent variable front wiper||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lane change indicator||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||Asta 1.4 CRDI||ZDi||XV P Diesel|
|Price (Ex Showroom Delhi)||Rs. 766,900||Rs. 670,874||Rs. 703,763|
|Power in PS/RPM||90 / 4000||74 / 4000||65 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||220 / 1500||190 / 2000||160 / 2000|
|Gears||6 MT||5 MT||5 MT|
|Wheel base mm||2570||2430||2450|
|Fuel tank capacity L||45||42||41|
|Kerb Weight (Kgs)||-||1080||978|
|Tyre Spec||195 / 55 R16||185 / 65 R15||175 / 60 R15|
The highlights of the design are large flowing headlamps, profile lines on the hood, diamond cut 16” alloys, blackened C-Pillar design and edgy rear tail lamps. The Fluidic 2.0 Design might not click for some at the very first look but then it is one of those designs which grows on you with time. With its modern and futuristic design, the Elite i20 leaves a positive impact.
In terms of features, Hyundai has loaded the i20 sufficiently. It features a segment first Smart Pedal where the sensors override braking once it senses abrupt pressing of the accelerator and brake pedals. Excluding base variants Era and Magna, other variants get ABS and airbags. With increasing focus on safety, it would have been nice for them to feature airbags on the lower variant as well.
Factors that make the Elite i20 work? Compared to its primary competition, the Swift, the Elite i20 feels far more a superior product in terms on overall design and packaging. Looking beyond the Maruti Suzuki tag, the Swift does not stand at par with the Elite i20. Its other rival, the Volkswagen Polo is an impressive product but then it loses in terms of daily running, maintenance costs and effeciency where Hyundai scores heavily. Thus, the Elite i20 will attract consumers from both ends of the bracket.