As one of the bestsellers in its local range, Hyundai’s all-new i20 hatchback is making its mark in South Africa’s fiercely competitive automotive B-segment.
The new i20 was designed at Hyundai Motor Company’s European Technical Centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany and made its debut at the 2013 Paris Motor Show. This new model makes its entry into the South African market in three derivatives: The i20 1.2 Motion (manual); the i20 1.4 Fluid (manual); and the i20 Fluid equipped with an automatic 4-speed gearbox.
“The new i20 does not only look fresh from the outside, but the interior reflects luxury and ergonomic excellence. Customers are in for a pleasant surprise when they take this new model for a test drive. The engineers have done a fine job of creating a car with solid, surefooted dynamics on the road, and a well-tuned, direct steering setup that gives good feedback,” says Stanley Anderson, marketing director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
Styling and Design
The new model embodies a powerful synergy between Hyundai Motor’s European design hallmarks and the latest interpretation of its Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy.
With a larger platform than its predecessor, the wheelbase of the new i20 is 45 mm longer (now 2 570 mm) than the outgoing model, meaning the wheels are closer to each corner. Compared to its predecessor, the new i20 is also wider. The width has increased by 24 mm (overall 1 734 mm) making it one of the widest cars in its class.
Engineered to negotiate tight urban spaces, its redesigned A-pillars are thinner, shorter and more upright to create more interior space and enhance the driver’s field of vision.
The bodyshell incorporates a single feature line running the length of the vehicle while a waistline moulding at the base of the door creates a sleek profile that is complemented by the soft, sculptured “undercuts” of the body panels. Its bold front aesthetic now features a distinctive dual-element grille – an upright chrome-framed hexagonal grille and a thin, horizontal grille that connects the headlamps and emphasises the width of the vehicle.
At the rear, the new i20 features a wrap-around, gloss-finished black C-pillar which gives the impression of a floating roofline. The lamp clusters wrap around the rear wing into the trunk lid and feature a distinctive “boomerang” LED design. A long hood, low roofline and sharp crease line combine to form a streamlined vehicle with an aerodynamic drag figure of 0,34 Cd. The new i20 features a large tailgate for ease of loading into its generous boot space of 294 litres. In a first for Hyundai, the reverse lamp has been integrated into the rear bumper.
“The bold and distinctive volume of the new i20 gives the car a unique personality, which is underlined by the premium look of the headlamps and rear combi lamps. For example, the concave element below the rear lamp expresses the three-dimensional and sculptural aspect of the Hyundai design language,” says Thomas Bürkle, chief designer at Hyundai Motor’s Design Centre in Europe.
All of the new i20’s key surfaces are colour coded to provide a connected and premium feel for the interior space.
The colours within the car’s interior contribute to creating an elegant and calming environment within, complemented by its exterior colouring. Hyundai Motor has, for the first time equipped the cabin with subtle piano black inserts, in addition to chrome detailing throughout the interior, creating a sophisticated aesthetic.
Comfort and Convenience
The new, larger platform on which the new i20 is based, makes it one of the most competitive cars in its class for interior spaciousness. Allowing for five adults to travel in comfort, it provides combined front and rear legroom of 1 897 mm – a class-leading figure. Front-seat occupants enjoy 1 027 mm headroom (22 mm more than the previous model) and 1 084 mm legroom (10 mm more). In the rear of the cabin, headroom of 968 mm, legroom of 813 mm and shoulder room of 1 350 mm allows three adults to be seated in comfort.
Cargo capacity has also been enhanced, making the vehicle one of the most accommodating in the segment with a trunk volume of 294 litres with the rear seats upright. Thanks to clever packaging, the rear bench can fold fully flat, meaning trunk capacity is boosted to 1 010 litres with the rear seats folded – ideal for young families and those carrying larger items.
Front-seat occupants benefit from larger cup holders in the centre console and a 1,5-litre bottle storage in the doors as well as a centre console box. Rear doors feature a 1,0-litre bottle storage space. The driver and front-seat passenger can also make use of a roof-mounted sunglasses holder.
Its redesigned air vents have been structured to provide better air flow into and around the cabin. Ergonomic design principles like “functional clustering” augment the driving experience by grouping together instrumentation such as the audio, heating and ventilation, and powered window systems.
The dashboard is asymmetric, angled five degrees towards the driver to make it as practical and user-friendly as possible. On many of the cabin’s key surfaces a high-grade Thermal Plastic Olefin (TPO) material has been applied, including on the vehicle’s dashboard and door trims. The soft-to-the-touch material is highly durable, maintaining a premium look and feel even after frequent use.
“The dash and the door materials are the first a potential customer touches after the steering wheel, so these need to be good quality and, most importantly, soft,” commented Christian Löer, head of product management and pricing at Hyundai Motor Europe.
The body structure is composed of 42% lightweight, ultra high-strength steel, compared with 16% in the outgoing model. Together with reinforcing loops fitted to the B- and C-pillars and the tailgate opening, this raises torsional rigidity by 81%. The result is an improvement in ride quality, reduction in core weight and gains in damping to mitigate noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
Increased sound-absorption at the base of the A-, B- and C-pillars protects occupants from road vibrations, while a high-density anti-noise pad is fitted within the floor pan to limit noise ingress. Hyundai has equipped the new i20 with an improved, low-frequency ISO PAD behind the dashboard, which helps reduce engine noise within the cabin.
In the pursuit of a quieter interior, the new i20’s external mirrors have been designed to improve airflow. Additionally, by fitting an inner belt to the door frame, Hyundai engineers have ensured a tighter close between it and the B-pillar, removing possible air interruption and, therefore, wind noise.
Other new features include automatic folding door mirrors and smartphone docking integration. USB and auxiliary connectivity is fitted as standard with an audio system, along with a Bluetooth hands free phone function and the ability to stream music over the sound system with Bluetooth from a cell phone or music player.
Engines and Transmission
Hyundai’s European engineering team, based at the Technical Centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany, focused on developing powertrains to better suit the demands of buyers. Hyundai engineers tuned each unit to deliver more maximum and low-end torque, enabling a more accessible and responsive day-to-day driving experience.
The new i20 is available with a choice of two Hyundai “Kappa” petrol power plants: A 1 197 cc 4-cylinder and a 1 368 cc four cylinder engine, both with 4 valves per cylinder and Dual Continuous Variable Valve Timing. Both engines uses returnless multi-point electronic fuel injection.
The Kappa 1,4 litre engine in the new i20 1.4 Fluid manual and 1.4 Fluid automatic delivers maximum power of 74 kW at 6 000 r/min., with the torque output reaching its limit at 133 Nm, delivered at 3 500 r/min. In the new i20 1.2 Motion manual, equipped with the 1,2 litre engine, maximum power of 61 kW is delivered at 4 000 r/min., and maximum torque of 115 Nm at 4 000 r/min.
The more powerful 1,4 litre engine in the i20 Fluid manual and 1.4 Fluid automatic is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and four-speed automatic gearbox, and the new i20 1.2 Motion manual uses a five-speed manual gearbox.
The five-and six-speed manual transmissions fitted to the new i20 have been extensively tested to deliver a smoother, quieter and more tactile shift, in keeping with the other quality enhancements made for the model.
The transmissions now feature multi-cone synchroniser rings on the first two ratios, a carbon-coated synchroniser ring on ratio three, and an anti-vibration mechanism fitted to the reverse gear to prevent ‘grinding’ noise and feel. Shift accuracy and snap-in feel has been improved with the addition of a guide plate inserted in the control shaft coupling.
The new i20 sits on fully independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and semi-independent coupled torsion beam axle at the rear. Hyundai’s engineers have upgraded the two systems to exploit the new car’s larger footprint, its significantly stronger structure and altered weight distribution.
The 64% stiffer bodyshell, combined with its longer wheelbase (+45 mm) and increased tracks offer noticeable gains in cornering stability and grip.
The new i20 employs a permanently magnetised Brushless Alternating Current (BLAC) motor-driven power steering (MDPS) system for greater accuracy and operating range. The steering system requires 2,7 turns lock-to-lock for a 5,1 m turning radius – making the car easy to navigate around the urban environment.
The front suspension employs a new shock absorber valve system, which harmonises ride and handling, giving a smoother ride and decreasing noise vibration and harshness. At the rear, the wheel-arch cavities and floor pan have been redesigned to accommodate long-travel shock absorbers, which are mounted vertically. This setup greatly reduces friction, resulting in greater wheel control and handling, a better response to the driver and also improved ride quality, benefitting occupant comfort. These enhancements mean that the ride of the new i20 is smoother compared to the previous model, while handling and responsiveness is increased.
The latest generation of Hyundai cars have been engineered from the earliest stages with occupant and pedestrian safety as a key priority. Hyundai engineers have rigorously tested and developed the passive and active safety systems.
At the core of the new i20, safeguarding above-average impact resistance, is the stronger chassis and bodyshell, which benefits from the extensive use of advanced-high-strength steel (42% of total composition compared with 16% for the original i20).
Every new i20 model is fitted, as standard, with a 4-wheel electronic 4-channel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), as well as Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Ventilated disc brakes are used on the front wheels, while the rear wheels are equipped with solid discs for the brakes.
The application of brake tie rods within the brake booster provides a number of benefits to customers: improved braking strength, better braking stability, increased brake pedal feel and a reduction in ambient vibration.
The new i20 features effective passive safety equipment to protect occupants, including a driver and front passenger airbag, with front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and a lap belt for the middle passenger in the rear. The height-adjustable head restraints provide protection against whiplash.
The prices of the new i20 model range are:
- 1.2 Motion Manual R184900
- i20 1.4 Fluid Manual R204900
- i20 1.4 Fluid Automatic R214900
Included in the prices are the Hyundai Warranty and Roadside Assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km. A 2 year or 30 000 km Service Plan is included in the 1.2 Motion’s price, while the 1.4 Fluid derivatives include a 3 year or 60 000 km Service Plan.
About Hyundai Automotive South Africa:
Hyundai Automotive South Africa, an entity of the Hyundai Motor Company, forms part of the Associated Motor Holdings group, which is a subsidiary of the Imperial Group. Since inception, Hyundai Automotive SA has established a network of over 100 dealerships in Southern Africa, including Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana. Hyundai Automotive SA, which offers a wide range of products and maintains high customer service standards, has established a strong brand following in South Africa. Further information about Hyundai Automotive SA and its products is available at www.hyundai.co.za.