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Hyundai i20: Test Drive

Date: 13 January 2009   |   Author: Tony Rock Tom Webster

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £9945
Key rival: Ford Fiesta

Hyundai's 'i' range has successfully taken on the mainstream in the city car and lower medium segments, and now is ready to do battle in the supermini market.

The i20 bears more than a passing resemblance to its bigger and smaller siblings, the i30 and i10, which means it's attractive but not striking. The teardrop headlights at the front and the creases on the bonnet and down the side panels make it pleasant to look at, but unlikely to turn many heads.

Inside is just as smart, and filled with kit. Even the most basic Classic trim gets aircon, an aux input, a reach/rake steering wheel and a cooled glove box. Comfort, the middle of three levels that finish with Style, adds four electric windows, alloy wheels, a trip computer, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls and coloured seats that bring a splash of colour without being overpowering.

Sadly, there is not quite as much storage as might be hoped for. The glove box is large, but there are only a couple of cupholders between the two front seats rather than a more useful bin to keep things out of sight.

While two adults will fit relatively easily in the back, on longer journeys the plastic backing to the front seats may bang uncomfortably against rear passenger knees. The plastic in the cabin also betrays the i20's low price, and appears cheap. The dash, in particular, feels brittle and lacks solidity.

On the road, the 100PS 1.4-litre petrol takes 11.6secs to get to 62mph, but feels much nippier at lower speeds. It is happy cruising at 70mph, although is clearly more at home around town, where it's supremely easy to throw around with particularly light steering. However, while this makes manoeuvring easy, it does take away some of the driving feel.

The i20 doesn't come out at the top of its class, but then it isn't priced to be. Other competitors may well be more fun to drive or made of higher quality materials, but they won't offer the same sort of kit and competence per pound.