Alan Rosenmeyer of Motor Matters (www.motormatters.net) reviews Hyundai’s new i20 Sport
The first model to reach SA bearing this badge is the new i20 Sport.
The current generation i20 has been available for about a year and, in a market segment where many competitors look similar or too alike, the i20 cuts a fairly distinctive figure. In my opinion, it stands out from the crowd. Now, add an aggressive, but very neat , body kit and some large and attractive alloys and it becomes even more individual and different. PLUS, don’t forget some neat and discreet N badges on the sides and rear to remind onlookers that this car is a bit special.
A few generations ago it would have ended here, but like a few competitors, Hyundai have taken the Sport theme a bit further. This is no longer a standard B segment hatchback, it’s been given a steroid lift. Especially in the exterior looks department. I believe that Hyundai have succeeded in this part of the mission.
Although the i20 does not compete with any models from BMW, I would like to draw a parallel here (this is not limited to BMW, others fall into the same category). BMW offer buyers M Division upgrades on all their models and then they offer the “FULL-FAT” M CARS. In the same way, I feel that Hyundai could develop the N division. The i20 Sport as tested would then fall into the N Division class and imagine a halo model full N20 using the 150kW motor from the Veloster Turbo. I would not profess to have the knowledge of whether this is feasible from an engineering perspective.
Back to the i20 Sport, the power has been increased from 74kW to 85 and more importantly, the torque from 133 to 160Nm. The difference in in-gear acceleration is clear. With a positive, short throw 6 speed gearshift the boy-racer awakens at every opportunity. Add in a trick exhaust with sporty sound and it’s a great car for a bit of fun at every pull-off. The suspension has also been stiffened and retuned for very quick turn-in and sharper handling. This is achieved, although at the expense of ride comfort, especially over a few bumps and ruts.
Returning to my opinion of this being an N Division “conversion”, I think Hyundai have missed a trick by making no changes to the very neat and comfortable interior of the car. Behind the wheel, there are no visual clues until you prod the accelerator and either hear the sound effects or notice the far more urgent acceleration. The interior is crying out for some sporty touches and an extra instrument or badges. Most owners would like their passengers to see this as well. Speaking of the interior, I feel that the infotainment system is a generation behind and lets the game down a bit.
Over a week of mixed usage, I averaged fuel consumption of around 7.8l/100km. This was for city driving and an open-road run. With any car offering added performance and acceleration, consumption can climb drastically if you want to “play” more often. Driven normally, the extra torque can ensure reasonable economy.
The i20 Sport falls squarely into a new sub-niche in the market being the B-segment Sport. The price of R 253 900 is competitive against the opposition, especially if you consider that it’s a premium of only R 21 000 over the 1.4 fluid model. Simply adding the body kit and alloys would cost you more without taking into account the engine and suspension upgrades. Plus there is the 3 year/60 000 km service plan AND Hyundai’s latest market leading 7 year/ 200 000km warranty.
As always, there are trade-offs for the added looks and performance. I definitely appreciate the extra power and feel that the visual enhancements are tasteful and aggressive. At my age, I’m not sure about my daily commute with the exhaust note or the extra hard suspension.
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid Manual – R 232 900
Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid Automatic – R243 900
Hyundai i20 1.4 Sport – R253 900
Be sure to watch Alan’s video review: