Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort
Wednesday 15 April 2009
Have you ever wondered what it’s all about? Why do we bother? What’s the point? Sometimes? Often? Too often?
Well driving cars can be a bit like that. What is it all about - is it more than just a form of transport; why do we bother aspiring to the best car we can afford when we know how badly depreciation will be. And what is the point of buying a big gas guzzling engine when the black stuff is depleting so quickly.
Cars like Hyundai’s new i20 don’t help the dilemma. If you are feeling introspective then don't get behind the wheel. Instead head for the more expensive corner of the showroom where a year's depreciation will be more than the total cost of this car.
You see this replacement for the ageing Getz costs under ten grand yet you would never know to look at it, feel it, or drive it.
Better still, because it is so well made that Hyundai offers a five year warranty free of charge, the experts think that i20's residual values will be pretty impressive too. After three years they reckon it will still retain half its value while most cars lose that amount the minute they drive off the forecourt.
There must be a catch, surely? Something that appears that cheap must be built to a price. The thing is, like the rest of the Hyundai range, it isn’t.
The i20 looks great, striking in fact with big teardrop headlamps, bold air intake and deep suage marks along the side. The proportions are nice, it looks squats on the road and the lines are set off by short overhangs and decent alloys.
Panel gaps and paint finish appear top quality and it looks as good as any supermini on the road.
The interior is just as appealing and it’s practical too. It is an incredibly easy car to live with because it functions so well and is so accommodating. The dashboard and instruments are spot on, the seats firm but comfortable and it feels spacious front and aft.
The back takes three adults; the boot swallows bags and pram and is plenty big enough for long weekends away with the family.
Despite being powered by a small fry 1.2 litre petrol motor, the i20 manages to do the job. It cruises happily and quietly at the motorway limit; it zips around town and is a doddle to park; and through countryside the only compromise is having to use second gear on some of the steeper hills. And it does all this in a refined and splendid fashion while returning 50mpg.
Steering brakes and ride are also excellent. The i20 is user friendly in the extreme with easy to operate throttle, clutch and five speed gearbox. It feels so much more expensive than it actually is which is uncanny.
It is also extremely safe thanks to ABS braking, electronic stability programme, active head restraints and six airbags including side curtains.
Specification is long and generous; electric windows all round, air conditioning, iPod integration, trip computer, steering wheel mounted audio controls and six speaker stereo.
At no point do you feel the need to reach for a paper bag to hide your shame of driving a cheap vehicle, in fact all too soon you become an inverted snob looking down on the less than discerning for driving vehicles that cost twice as much, will lose double, but perform no better.
So if you are having your motoring self doubts, driving the new i20 might just be the therapy you need.
Model: Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort
Engine: 1.2 litre diesel
Drivetrain: five speed
Top speed: 103mph
Insurance group: 3E
Miles per gallon combined: 54.3
CO2 (g/km): 124
Price: from £9,945
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