In the shadow of the response it received from the ‘Getz’, Hyundai designers hunkered down in 2007 and improved on the B-segment hatchback that was eventually phased out in 2011, to reveal the i20.
With a new look and a far superior 1.4 litre petrol engine; the i20 propelled Hyundai right back into the extremely competitive hatchback segment.
After cementing its position in the segment for six years, the South Korean manufacturer has doubled down once again to give the i20 a successor, the Elite i20.
Following its trend of complete design overhaul with every new model, Hyundai seems to have styled the European designed hatchback, priced from Rs 4.98 lakh in the petrol variant and Rs 6.20 lakh for the diesel (ex- Showroom Bangalore) , to spell out luxury and style.
The ever-evolving Fluidic-based design, known as the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 philosophy, has been employed yet again by the automobile manufacturer in hopes to draw the success that the sedan received since its release.
Hyundai dove into a bolder look with this model and chose to scrap the round fluidic edges to replace them with sharper lines giving the car a sporty look. The curved headlamps too have been dropped along with the Day Time Running LEDs, which have now been replaced by regular fog lamps.
The design that is almost completely different from its predecessor’s is characterised by 2 black C-Pillars that flank either side of the rear. This has resulted in lower backlights and a single reverse light positioned on the driver’s side bumper.
Although a single reverse light is common, in other cars it is usually positioned on the left to provide for better illumination in the wing mirror.
In terms of dimensions, the Elite i20 is shorter than the i20-iGen; the increased wheelbase and the 170 mm ground clearance however ensure comfort despite road conditions.
The interiors remain almost similar to the car it replaces. The characteristic bucket seats with back recline and length adjustment, perfectly supplements the 3 spoke electronic power steering ensuring a smooth drive.
The telescopic and tilt options of the steering wheel in higher variants of the car adds to the comfort making it ideal for long drives. Though most of these features aren’t really new.
Intricate design changes in the AC vents and power window buttons leave a slightly changed but overall improved look inside.
Besides ‘Era’, the lowest variant of the Elite i20, other versions come equipped with an 8-speaker audio system with 1GB internal memory capable of playing CD, MP3,Radio, AUX port Bluetooth and USB. Like the i20-iGen the speakers are supplemented by four ‘tweeters’ that are adjacent to the door handle.
Smart pedal system
Comfort levels at the back have been improved with newly added rear AC vents and more legroom that should easily seat three people.
The refurbished hatchback comes with dual airbags along with ABS (Anti-lock braking system), a steering position indicator and a smart pedal system.
These features however are seen only in the higher variants. Another feature that is unique to the higher variants is the useful electro-chromatic rearview mirror with a reverse camera that allows for an easy park. The steering alignment indicator system along with the other indicators are featured on the multi-info display panel has been moved to the centre console from the top of the dashboard.
The panel displays the next service due date, additional rear parking assist and setting for the ‘impact sensing door unlock feature’ installed to improve safety.
Other features include an engine starter-button seen in the higher variants similar to the i20-iGen. The keyless entry feature however is new and is bound to achieve Hyundai's goal to make the driving experience all about ease. The spacious, well-illuminated 285-litre boot completes the ensemble making it a good choice for both long and city drives.
Hyundai has pushed the envelope yet again in terms of ride quality. Though the suspension system remains the same the 2,570 mm larger wheelbase, should further add to its drivability on city roads.
Both petrol and diesel editions of the car have 45-litre tank capacity, with a 1.4 litre U2 CRDI engine in the diesel and 1.2 litre Kappa Dual VTVT engine in the petrol.
Fuel efficiency for both variants sound acceptable on paper, as the ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) mileage of the petrol edition is 18.16 km per litre while the diesel edition gives 22.54 km per litre in the Era and Magna variants only.
The 6-speed chrome finished gear in all diesel variants, including the one provided to us by Advaith Hyundai for a test drive, adds to the stability of the drive even at top-speeds, giving the driver an exhilarating thrill without the constant wobbling which was an issue in the older versions of the i20.
The braking in the top-end variants has undoubtedly improved; despite having only front discs the Elite surpasses the i20 iGen in this area by coming to a stop efficiently and almost immediately.
The absence of ABS in the lower variants, however, maybe a problem the Elite is dynamically superior to its predecessor making it easily manoeuvrable and far more agile.
A noticeable missing feature in the refurbished hatchback is the 6 airbags that featured in the i20 Asta-O but have been dropped in the Elite. Unlike its competitor, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai has opted to reduce the number of airbags in its premier variants and maintained its stance of having no airbags at all in its lower variants.
Even though the lack of features in the lower variants might just tip a few of its customers to higher variants of the lower models like the i10. On the whole, the i20 Elite sums up better than its predecessor in style, comfort and drivability setting it up to be a car that has all the potential to rival hatchbacks not only in India but in the European markets as well where its forerunners have received overwhelming response.