Hyundai’s product offensive strategy is showing no signs of abatement as after launch of Grand i10 and Xcent, this Korean manufacturer has brought in new Elite i20 to shores of Indian auto market. Buoyed by success of its recent launches that helps Hyundai to clock increase in its domestic market share, company is looking to further accelerate the rejuvenated sales momentum with this new Elite i20. Launched in the price range stretching between Rs4.90 lakh and Rs 7.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), new Elite i20 will replace the existing i20 that was launched in market way back in 2008. Based upon all-new platform this second generation Elite i20 traces its design footprints all the way to Germany where this car was first conceived and then drafted at Hyundai’ s design studio. Expected to take on likes of Maruti Swift, VW Polo, Fiat Punto Evo and soon-to-be-launched Tata Bolt, this new Hyundai comes with long list of equipment and many first-in-class features.
Already labelled as blockbuster in promotional campaign run by Hyundai, Elite i20 is quite confident of making it big in fiercely contested premium hatchback category of Indian market. Now whether this confidence swagger has really got the backing of substance; we find in this road test review starring all new Elite i20 in lead role.
With new Elite i20, Hyundai has once again hit the design nail on the head. Head-turning frontage, crispy profile and equally interesting rear make Elite i20 a delightful all-around watch. Like its elder Verna, Elite i20 is sophisticatedly beautiful and we were having hard time to find nit-pick any design absurdity in this baby Hyundai.
Hyundai has evolved in its designing language and unlike the early aggressive in-face designed vehicles; Elite i20 has got mild doses of Fluidic 2.0 philosophy. Large hexagonal chrome outlined grill sits lower in Elite i20 and with tastefully detailed chin, makes a superb impression. Augmenting the frontage design are sweptback wraparound headlamps that come with faux LED curved strips positioned at the top. May be Hyundai has already made provision for the first face-lift of this car given the decreasing time period between the original and face-lift offerings. There is power bulge on hood and unlike some other vehicles it is not subtle and quite perceptible.
Side profile of Elite i20 is characterized by strong shoulder line originating from A-pillar going across the length and merging on to tail lamps. 16” alloy wheels look stunning and raised stance on 16” alloy wheels gives this Hyundai a bit of character. ORVMs’ come with integrated blinkers and chrome door handles look nice to hold and operate. Another interesting bit in profile view is blacked out C-pillar of Elite i20 that gives the tapering roof of this car a sort of floating design cue.
Even at the rear Elite i20 successfully maintains its design focus as Santa Fe inspired wrap around tail lamps look ridiculously fabulous to look at. Rear windscreen coupled with black C-pillars feels like wraparound though average glass area could have been better to augment space and driver visibility aspects. Rear bumper is voluminous and along with reflectors also houses a contrasting thin black strip at its bottom. Dimensionally Elite i20 restricts its foot-prints under 4m of length restriction that allows it to qualify the tax-exemptions. Wheelbase of 2570 mm is not class leading though large enough to liberate enough cabin-room inside. Overall width of 1734 mm seems impressive and sure to aid the sitting convenience of occupants.
On inside of Elite i20 Hyundai has traced the similar path as it treaded on Grand i10 and Xcent. Two-tone dashboard and seats, smart centre console and loads of equipment are now familiar bits in any Hyundai. And we are not complaining as after all this design has struck a chord with consumers.
Swooping character of dash board feels quite practical too in addition to being modern and hardwearing grains feel soft-touch in nature. Smartly placed centre console comes with loads of equipment and electrochromic internal rear view mirror is capable of displaying the rear view in reverse gear mode. 2-DIN music system that plays all the formats of music comes with 1 GB internal memory and Bluetooth connectivity. Chunky steering wheel houses the various controls and controls are exceptionally steadfast. Blue backdrop lighting looks very soothing and Hyundai has used this adorable aspect in plenty in Elite i20. Ergonomics and operability is something Elite i20 scores quite exceptionally and full marks to Hyundai for rehearsing things properly and getting it right in final product.
Spatially Elite i20 comes with rather a good room and space package as with generous wheelbase and wider body, this i20 outperforms most of its rivals. Both front and rear bench is generously roomy and there is ample space available than required by the typical owner of this car. Our only grouse is with the head room that could have been better at the back had Hyundai had done away with sloping roof profile. Further the bolstering of the seats, especially at the front could have better.
However no grouse with 285 litres of boot space that is in fact in the leagues of segment higher cars like compact sedans. Further the practical laid-out design of trunk and luggage lamp complete interior package of this Hyundai.
Climax Under The Hood
Elite i20 has got the same power plants i.e. 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel as featured by its previous generation iteration. We test drove the diesel one that makes 90 PS of max power and 220 Nm of max torque.
The first thing that immediately struck us was the exceptionally refined nature of this 4-cylinder, 16-valve diesel engine. Though even in i20 we lauded the refinement but here in Elite i20 this smoothness pertains to altogether different level. Inside the cabin, it is almost impossible to tell whether engine is idling. Clutch is light and foot reflexes are quickly transformed into results in terms of quick progress and leaps forward. However the drivability is not something that impressed us especially when compared to many new-age very drivable oil-burners. Gear shifts are mandatory and only past 2000 rpm, the motor wakes up and start delivering to its full capacity. Mid-range is nice and once you cross the rpm barrier this Hyundai swings into action and make brisk advancements. Further the additional 6th gear help this motor in effortless highway cruising and sure to positively affect the mileage figures of i20.
Mated with 6-speed manual transmission, Elite i20 is front wheel drive vehicle. Transmission is slick and throws are short too. That said it lacks the preciseness of VW Polo though in isolation this gearbox won’t give you any reason to complain about. Clutch too is light and very adorable progressive feel to it. Another nifty touch is addition of dead pedal that along with spacious foot well makes life easy in hectic urban commute.
Brakes are very well calibrated and reassuring feel to them. Brake pedal not even once wobbled or oscillated and this is pleasant change as we have had this happening in past. Steering is power assisted and very light to operate; a boon for city driving especially in parking manoeuvres.
Elite i20 comes with standard suspension hardware that employs McPherson strut upfront and torsion beam at rear. 16” alloy wheels in to variant Asta come shrouded with 195 mm wide rubber that in fact equip this car with decent gripping ability. Elite i20 has got soft suspension setting that prioritizes ride quality over handling. For most of the part, new i20 feels cushiony, pliant and absorbent. The suspension works silently and its long travel ensures that cabin remain aloof to any intrusions.
Handling still remains one of the sore points as we feel there is considerable amount of body roll that creeps in as soon as there are quick lane changes. The good thing that the amount of pitching and oscillation has come in this new Hyundai as there is less nose-diving upon braking. Light steering of Hyundai continuous to disappoint us with its lifeless nature though we believe most of the regular folks will like as it aids city manoeuvrability.
Uncompromise is the buzz word that Hyundai has chosen for Elite i20 and rightly so. On each and every aspect of consideration, Elite i20 emerges as a much better proposition than its predecessor. Not only it looks upmarket and better styled than previous i20 but this also comes with more refined interiors and engines. Even on front of dynamics and mileage, Elite i20 stands on par with rivals while running then all into ground when comparison is made on equipment front. Further the competitive price starting from as low as Rs 4.90 lakh, this Hyundai scores equally well on value-for-money. It may not be perfect and could have come with better seats, connected steering and head room but then these are the small shortcomings that won’t bother you much in your routine driving. If you are not very particular about these niggles then Elite i20 ticks all the right boxes for you.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 4/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 3.5/5