Hyundai has climbed aboard the crosshatch bandwagon with its Elite i20 based cross hatch christened as i20 Active. Speculation regarding this move was rife for some time though this swift launch happening within months of Elite i20’s arrival has taken many by surprise. Hyundai, it seems, has worked at brisk pace to launch i20 Active ahead of any such move by its mainstream rivals like Maruti and Tata. This planning could bear fruit owing to first-mover advantage thoughit’s worth mentioning here that i20 Active is not inventor of crosshatch phenomenon. This credit goes to blue oval that kick started this category couple of years ago with its verycapable and sporty EcoSport. Later VW, Toyota and Fiat joined the rally with their Cross Polo, Etios Cross and Avventura respectively though none of these followers got desired customers’ patronage. Now, Hyundai is confident of reversing this trend with i20 Active and large part of this enthusiasm rests on shoulders of unprecedented success it has garnered of late in Indian market. Further, with popular draw like Elite i20 acting as base-architecture, i20 seems to have right mix of ingredients as revealed by its specification sheet. But then, real-world conditions are entirely different and could easily jeopardize prospects of what feels brilliant on paper. That’s why we decided to take i20 Active for a long spin before declaring its true value to or esteemed readers. Read on to find how i20 Active fares holistically on various assessing parameters of ECARDLR’s road test.
Pumped Up Exteriors
i20 Active makes no bones about its design inheritance that trails to the Elite i20 hatchback. Even a casual glance discerns the similarities which is in fact a good thing to start with. Elite i20 is an absolute looker and i20 Active follows the suit with its calculated amalgamation of sophistication and ruggedness. That said, Hyundai has made some perceptible changes on i20 Active in line with its crosshatch theme. Up front, nose is bit sleeker and grille design is different as well. Large swept-back, shapely headlamps looks simply outstanding, and has got silver strip and DRLs. Round fog lamps replace trapezoidal units seen on Elite i20, and here these have cornering function too.
There is inverted air-dam housed basally and just below bull-bar, honeycomb grille adores the proceedings. Another major distinguish factor in i20 Active is its all-around body cladding just like Cross Polo. Hyundai has administered cladding feature parsimoniously so as not to offend practical buyers while making assessment of this crosshatch. 16” alloy wheels look chunky though there aren’t able to fill gaping arches completely. Matte-finish roof rails are one of the sturdiest we have witness till now, and lend sporty appeal to silhouette.
At rear, strikingly good tail-lamps have been straight lift from Elite i20 though matte finished C-pillar has been here with glossy finishing. Roof spoiler has sharper pretension and mounted antenna on rear roof feels a nice touch. There are useful accessories like rear-view camera and sensors located at rear though license plate design used here is inverted, just like the case with front air-dam.
Dimensionally i20 Active measuring 3995 mm from head to toe is lengthier than Elite i20, Further its ground clearance of 190 mm makes it quite capable off-roader and so does its 16” alloy wheels. 2570 mm of wheelbase is not bad either and 285 litres of boot space is highest among rivals. Overall i20 Active passes this first section of road-test with aplomb.
Hyundai offers i20 active with two colour schemes: a blue-shade for white car and a black-orange for Brown shade. We samples latter one and found black interiors with inserted orange dashes quite appealing in aesthetics. That said, this dark shading scheme lacks on front of utility as there is no feeling of augmented space; something available abound in beige shade of Elite i20. Besides colour, cabin is very much a straight lift from Elite i20. Centre console feel nice and built sturdily. Controls fall in hands very easily and ergonomics is of top-notch. Seats are superbly built and have plenty of support on offer; especially front buckets seats are superbly cultivated.
At rear, there are separately devoted air-vents for occupants though seats are felt a bit on firmer side. Bench height has been optimised for easy ingress-egress though firm cushioning could feel a bit uncomfortable for shorter city drives. That said, there is no issue with available space as i20 Active has got more than enough room of all kinds including headroom.
With wheelbase of 2570 mm that is highest among the segment, i20 active eventuates as most spacious offering. Further maximum width of 1760 mm makes its cabin the most comfortable while 1555 mm height ensures no head-scraping, even for tallest of the occupants.
Boot space is liberal too and at 285 litres, set new segment benchmark. Hyundai has provide luggage lamp and spare in trunk is neatly concealed under the rug. That said, loading lip is quite high and in spite of wider loading area, acts of loading-unloading do require some muscle strength.
Engine & Transmission
I20 active uses similar set of engines as of Elite i20: a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.4-litre diesel engine. Expected to make chunk of buying, we sampled second-generation 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged-intercooled diesel engine. Powered by 16-valve, twin-cam arrangement, this motor is good for 90 PS and 220 Nm. To start the engine, clutch must be pressed as instruction will be flashed if you attempt otherwise. Push start-stop button and engine in front rumbles to life without even any indication. Despite of having no insulation under hood, this 1.4-ltre unit of Hyundai is segment benchmark as far as refinement is concerned.
There is absolutely no noise whatsoever and even while cruising, you will be hard-pressed to ascertain its diesel nature. City drivability is quite a breeze as turbo-lag is reduced to minimum. I20 Active can easily keep up with traffic even in higher gears owing to more linear nature of its power train now. On flip side feel of strong torque push has been gone now as owners won’t be pushed back to their seats once turbo action kicks in.
Mated to 6-speed manual transmission, i20 Active proves an excellent highway cruiser. It’s a car that enjoys miles munching and you need not to plan your overtaking manoeuvres. Clutch, on the other side, is not to best of our liking. Although not heavy but it does have long, progressive action. In regular traffic congestions of city, this could stress out driver easily. Gear shifts are positive, inspiring though not as slick and ell-defines as in VW Polo. Brakes work well and dead-stop the car with very reassuring feels.
Hyundai has made some mentioning progress in driving dynamics of late, and i20 Active is yet another testimony on this front. There is standard MacPherson strut up front and torsion beam set-up at back that i20 Active features though there is less bobbing and pitching that otherwise is a regular feature of past Hyundais’. i20 Active has got matured ride and though there is still some nervous feel brewing beneath its confident pretension, it’s not all that disturbing.
Similar to improvement in ride, handling of i20 Active has also got a boost. There is tight-body control that one can maintain in most of the situations though we would have liked more responsive steering wheel. Although very light to aid city-driving, this unit is as lifeless as a dead fish. There is no feedback whatsoever as most of times, you have no idea what each tyre is up to.
I20 Active retails in price bracket of Rs 6.38 – 8.89 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It stacks at middle rung as far as value for money goes but then VFM is certainly not the critical factor here. Prospect looking to buy Crosshatch is more inclined to get some extra zing and excitement which i20 Active provides in plenty. It looks more muscular, macho and all this without losing any starts at technical and design sophistication. Interiors are well-built and though liking of black-orange cabin is subjective, we still feel that most of buyers will appreciate high level of finesse and equipment here. Engine options are very practical; especially the diesel one that will make contribute majorly to overall sales of i20m Active. Hyundai has also improved upon its weak area i.e. driving dynamics a i20 Active perform acceptably good on this front too. Overall, i20 Active is a complete proposition and backed by reliable brand of Hyundai, you can buy this without even slightest of hesitation.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Engine & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 3/5