Hyundai i20 Active Review
“Can you take it further inside the sand?” I screamed to my friend sitting inside. He promptly denied any possibility whatsoever. This is the exact scenario which often keeps repeating when I am shooting a front-wheel drive hatchback turned into a macho looking crossover.
Hyundai officials are quick enough to interrupt me and graciously correct my description of this car, as they prefer calling it a Sport Styled Vehicle. Seeing the image below, you might think of it as a spruced up Elite i20, not that you are completely wrong as it is based on the same hatch except for this one gets bush and rough road bashing armoury makeover with a new name – i20 Active.
Toyota and VW have their offerings in this space. Sadly, they haven’t struck any chord with the audiences. Hyundai, the car maker with a Midas touch, sees serious potential in this segment and feels the i20 Active has it all. Our take on it is here...
The i20 Active is a derivative of the Elite i20 and thus it looks extremely similar to the hatchback. Hyundai has cleverly offered additional features on the Active to make it more appealing and also to attract the younger buyer’s attention.
Since it is a Crossover, the essentials of the category like cladding and skid plates are mandatory. The Etios Cross is the least attractive offering as it looks like an aftermarket job whereas the Cross Polo is too sophisticated with minor vinyls. The only other serious car in this range is the Fiat Avventura as it gets loads of goodies and a spare wheel mounted on the tail door.
The most evident change from Elite is the brand new inversed radiator grille on the Active, which looks more impressive. It gets multiple vertical slats running along the width. The dual tone bumpers have a matte plastic cladding below to make it a rough terrain ready vehicle. Instead of sleek fog lamps, the Active gets standard yet effective round lamps. The headlight features projectors, cornering lights and also LED day time running lights.
The lower body plastic cladding continues on the side as well. It gets newly designed solid 16” alloy wheels, which give the silhouette a new feel. The silver roof rails too add an adventure element to the overall profile. Aesthetically, Hyundai has made it look different than the hatch but even in terms of making it more capable, they have further increased the ground clearance by 20mm, making it 190mm.
The i20 Active, similar to the Elite, looks amazing when seen from the rear quarter view and the reason for it is the well curved and large waistline which flows generously from side to the rear. The glossy C-Pillar compliments it giving it a floating roof design. A new addition to this is the mole like dark fuel lid cover. The rear too gets a two-tone bumper with necessary claddings along with three dimensional three step LED type tail lamps.
The outside of i20 Active is fancy enough to get anyone’s attention but inside the cabin, the changes aren’t striking except for the addition of new colour schemes. If you choose the silver exterior shade then your car will get Aqua Blue interiors and if you wish to get your car in a red or brown paint, the interiors get lesser flamboyant Tangerine Orange trims.
Going ahead with the Tangerine Orange shade as it also matched our Gatorade drink, it isn’t as extreme as one would think of it. The lines on the front dashboard remain similar except for the bright highlights on the AC vents, central console, Gear knob and also on both row seats, which are also stitched in the same shade. It also gets aluminium rally style race pedals, which looks unique. Even the Gear shifter neck gets an aluminium collar.
The build quality continues to be a strong point. The new darker feel of the interiors doesn’t make it feel as plush and premium as that in Elite. The twin dial instrumental cluster has been carried away without any changes as it shows the essentials of vehicle information. There are numerous setting options on this cluster.
The centrally mounted entertainment system has a great utility value but then it begs to be updated with a more modern arrangement. In Hyundai’s favour, it offers 2-DIN Bluetooth Audio with 1GB on-board memory, steering mounted audio and info controls, 8 speakers with tweeters, cooling inside glove box area, rear AC vents and a fully automatic climate control with cluster ionizer, now that makes a mouthful..Doesn’t it?
The above unending list of features is one strong point on why Indian consumers prefer it over other rival models. Hyundai has always been very active on gauging consumer needs and also offering the latest in terms of technology. Its immediate rival Volkswagen Polo might have the snob value of a typical German make but Hyundai isn’t behind in any aspect.
The new generation i20 was an improved version over the earlier offering and thus Hyundai has not fiddled with the mechanicals as they have let the engine make similar numbers like the Elite. The i20 Active comes in a 1.2L Kappa petrol engine which makes 83PS of power and 115Nm of torque and in a 1.4L U2 CRDI engine which develops 90PS of power and 220Nm of torque. The diesel engine comes equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission while the petrol unit does away with a 5-Speed box.
The transformation from standard to Cross was done with the help of multiple changes on the car infrastructure. The chassis and the setup remain same but the height of the coil springs has been increased and as a result the ground clearance has gone up by 20mm, which now stands at 190mm. The same for Etios Cross is 174mm giving some room for undulations while the Cross Polo gets a 165mm GC meaning it can just look at uneven surfaces and then take a detour and travel on plane surfaces instead.
The slightly long travel suspension is useful for the vehicle to manoeuvre on rough roads but it also helps negating the resonance effect from the road which gets killed at the suspension level keeping the cabin immune to disturbances. The same has been incorporated in the new 4S Verna. This can be felt while driving over potholes and speed breakers as the cabin is disconnected from it resulting in better ride quality, bit better than even the Elite.
While the main focus was to make the Active feel more capable on uneven roads, it still manages to offer sufficient confidence on straight lines. The increase in ground clearance has not affected the Active’s handling as there is no roll on corners. The only downside has to be the lighter steering wheel which is very discouraging. If Hyundai can sort this and make the steering more engaging, it has serious potential to beat even Volkswagen in their forte.
Hyundai’s diesel motors do a great job be it on the Grand or the Elite. What makes them unique is their free revving nature. Even at the end of the range, the engine doesn’t feel out of breath. The 1.4 U2 CRDI engine has been further tuned to strengthen its low end power delivery. This makes it a city centric car too in addition to it being used on highways only. The changes have increased its low and mid speed acceleration by 11 per cent.
The shift quality of the 6-Speed transmission unit is impressive. The improved diesel motor gets enough torque even at the bottom of the range and with its larger displacement, the need to often upshift or downshift doesn’t occur, even in traffic clad areas. The wide rev range between 1500 to 2750 rpm offers a torque of 220Nm. The slight lag below the 1500 mark is not too much of a bother.
|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||S||Yes|
|Parking Assist||Reverse Parking Sensors||No||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Camera with ECM display||No||Yes||Yes|
|Front Fog Lamps||No||Yes||Yes|
|Central locking (Door & Tailgate)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Impact Sensing Auto Door Unlock||No||Yes||Yes|
|Inside Rearview Mirror||Day & Night||Yes||No||No|
|Escort Function- Headlamps||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Keyless Entry||Foldable Key||Yes||Yes||No|
|LED DRL & Positioning Lamps||No||Yes||Yes|
|Black Front Grille with Chrome||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Roof Spoiler||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Body Cladding on the Side & Wheel Arch||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Skid Plate- Front & Rear||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unique Fuel Cap||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|B Pillar Black Out Tape||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|C Pillar High Gloss Finish||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outside Rearview Mirrors||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Outside Door Handles||Yes||Yes||No|
|Chrome Outside Door Handles||No||No||Yes|
|Dual Tone Front & Rear Bumper||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Waistline Moulding- Black||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Turn Indicators on Outside Mirrors||No||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||1.4L U2 CRDi||1.4 Diesel||1.5TDI|
|Price||Rs. 889,683||Rs. 743,000||Rs. 838,200|
|Power in PS / RPM||90 / 4,000||67 / 3800||89 / 4200|
|Torque in Nm / RPM||220 / 1,500 - 2,750||170 / 1800||230 / 1500|
|Gears||6 Speed Manual||5 Speed Manual||5 Speed Manual|
|Wheel base mm||2570||2460||2469|
|Fuel tank capacity L||45||45||45|
|Tyre Spec||195/55 R16||185 / 60 R15||185 / 60 R15|
It is well equipped and comes with renowned set of engines and mechanicals that is famous in a typical Hyundai but then interestingly the i20 Active is the most expensive crossover compared to Fiat Avventura, Toyota Etios Cross and Volkswagen Cross Polo. Should that make all of you shy away from it?
Absolutely Not! The reason for that is if you consider the Etios Cross, it has nothing to offer as it is a weirdly disproportionate looking car apart from the fact that Etios series have no appeal whatsoever. The Volkswagen Cross Polo doesn’t really qualify with its packaging as it is still very much a hatchback with stickers and matte cladding. The only serious competition therefore is from Fiat with the Avventura , which truly deserves to be called a crossover as it gets serious levels of equipment to support the tag. But the main area where Hyundai i20 Active downshifts and overtakes all these points is the brand trust and support. The Active is largely based on the Elite which sell quite generously in India. This acts as a strong backing point that the Active is based on the most selling premium hatch compared to the other offerings which face niche sales.
The i20 Active gets a minimalistic yes impact making exterior. The funked up interiors might seem a bit loud but then is more of an acquired taste. The claims of a more capable suspension are true as it performs surprisingly better than the Elite on uneven surfaces. We feel the i20 Active will attract a sizeable audience.