Burgeoning crosshatch category of Indian auto industry witnessed yet another launch with inception of all-new Hyundai i20 Active. Underpinned on platform of hugely successful Elite i20 hatchback, Hyundai is confident of repeating same success with i20 Active. Further, absence of any main-stream rival like Maruti, Honda, and Tata is likely to favor Hyundai though i20 Active has to contend with some formidable opponents before it gets slice of the cake. Etios Cross figures at top of rival list as thiscrosshatch has garnered more success than its standardhatchback avatar. Another prominent adversary of i20 Active is Fiat Avventura which has freshly forayed into crosshatch sphere couple of months ago. Sprung into life by using springboard of Punto hatchback, this Fiat makes a strong case for itself and won’t budge without a fight. On paper, all these three contenders claim to be segment king though in reality only one can rest at the top. Now to know which one of these three gets this pride, read on this comparative road test review compiled by expert faculty at ECARDLR.
How they look like on Outside
All three cars in comparison here inherit some crucial similarities in terms of their underpinnings and mechanical linkages. Hyundai, Toyota and Fiat have used their hatchback platform to bring their crosshatch offerings to life which is quite apparent with the very first look at any of competing propositions here. That said, manufacturers have infused enough character in these crosshatch cars to make them look rugged and butch.
i20 Active: Sophisticated Beauty
Newest kid on block i.e. Hyundai i20 Active looks smart and sophisticated as Hyundai has used matte-finish cladding quite sincerely. Headlamp cluster is most-advanced and features function like projector beam and cornering light. Profile is quite attractive and rear too makes you fall in love with Hyundai’s design team.
Etios Cross: Rugged all-around
Unlike Hyundai, Toyota has gone all-out to impress buyers with ruggedness and butch stance of Etios Cross. Healthy dose of all-around cladding and quite intimidating frontage make sure that this Toyota carves a separate identity among hordes. Aggressive bull-bar design at front and generous side cladding makes Etios Cross an unmistakable crosshatch.
Fiat Avventura: Quite a looker
Fiat has history of making cars that look quite stunning, and Avventura is no different. Pulled back headlamps, understated nose and subtle use of rugged cues makes Avventura a handsome crossover. Further, tail mounted spare wheel aids to its overall aesthetics though this scheme doesn’t gel well with practicality dimension.
Dimensionally i20 Active dwarfs its rivals in almost all considered parameters and its advantage on critical wheelbase virtue is even more decisive. With 2570 mm of wheelbase i20 Active races ahead of 2510 mm of Avventura and 2460 mm of Etios Cross. That said, Fiat here has got highest ground clearance of 205 mm while i20 and Etios Cross comes after with their belly 190 mm and 174 mm off the ground respectively.
i20Active: 4/5 Avventura: 4/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
How they feel inside
i20 Active: Luxurious interiors
Of late all Hyundai models have shown impeccable finishing and interiors quality that has indeed contributed big in sales success of Korean manufacturer. i20 Active retains this legacy with its precisely crafted and stitched together luxurious cabin. Everything ranging from dash to console, instrument cluster to gear lever, oozes inimitable finesse, and credit must be given to Hyundai for equipping its model with such an uprated cabin. Interestingly, Hyundai is offering two different interior shades in i20 Active that varies according to outer paint job. For darker outside colour, there is soothing light blue interiors inside while brown i20 Active has been contrasted with black-orange interiors. With longest wheelbase of 2570 mm, i20 Active offers generous amount of seating comfort at both front and rear benches.
Fiat Avventura: Improved Quality
Fiat impresses with interiors too especially centrally stacked rotary dials feels quite chunky to look at. Black-beige dashboard feels fine to touch and so is a tastefully crafted centre console. Big-dials on cluster aid reading and new steering unit is much nicer than before. That said, there are still some rough edges that get visible once you start digging under the skin. Although there is considerable improvement in overall stitching capability of Fiat, it still has to go few miles before it matches with that of Hyundai. There is good space inside Avventura though it lacks heavily on support front. Under-thigh support is poor at rear bench and width feels a bit short too. Fitting 3 adults at back won’t be a comfortable choice though total 4 occupants can travel here in good comfort.
Etios Cross: Unanimated Design
Toyota stacks at bottom of list with its unanimated and built-to-cost interiors. Even the glossy black-finish used by company can’t able to save the day for its Japanese marque as Etios Cross simply get knocked out on interiors bout. It’s not that there are erring edges or loosely coupled pieces here but the main culprit in this cabin is its lay-out. Vertically mounted air-vents are extremely practical though they let you down with their packing order. Closely clustered music-system has got the capability to play what its rivals do but feel odd in term of its stacking arrangement. Space-wise cabin is generous but in comparison to room that is on offer in other two vehicles, Toyota looks instantly pale and drawn.
i20Active: 4/5 Avventura: 3.5/5 Etios Cross: 3/5
How they are like to Drive
I20 Active and Etios Cross use nearly identical engine capacity of 1.4-litre though output of two differs greatly. Compared to 68 PS/170 Nm of Etios Cross, i20 Active dishes out 90 PS /220 Nm. Fiat Avventura, on other hand, is smallest motor here with 1.3-litre of cubic capacity though it turns out most powerful on paper with 94 PS and 170 Nm of max power and max torque respectively.
Fiat Avventura: multi-jet diesel bogged by weight
That said, on road performance of Fiat is totally lacklustre and despite of having most power output here, Avventura struggles to drag its heaviest kerb-weight amongst the three. Multi-jet diesel technology is competent though Fiat is not able to use it in way Maruti is doing. What a pit it is that inventor of multi-jet brilliance is struggling itself to reap its benefits.
Etios Cross: Fuel-efficient and reliable motor
No such weight issue with Etios Cross and as result, this Toyota feels quite spirited on road. There is little bit of lag though this won’t bother most of the owners. Everything in mechanicals of Toyota has coherence, and this manifests in way Etios Cross tackles wide-variety of power and output requirements. In term of refinement, there is diesel clatter typical of oil-burner though it won’t intrudes in cabin as long as motor is not pushed too the limits.
i20 Active: Benchmark refinement
Hyundai smashed performance rating of other cars with its incredibly refined, drivable, and punchy diesel engine. Hydraulic mountings used by Hyundai has made refinement even better than before as one would be hard-pressed to say that engine rumbling ahead is diesel one. There is almost no turbo-lag as i20 picks from dash with absolute ease and certainty. Power delivery is very smooth and its linear nature will sure strike chord with buyers. In this test, only Hyundai comes with 6-speed manual transmission while other two feature 5-speed gearbox. Toyota gearbox is most inspiring as shifting happens with utmost precision. Hyundai stacks at middle though Fiat still has to learn a lot in shifting department.
i20Active: 4/5 Avventura: 3/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
How they behave on road
Fiat Avventura: Brilliantly dynamic
When it comes to dynamic prowess, nothing can beat sheer ingenuity of Fiat. Avventura has got impeccable ride-handling comb and despite boasting highest ground clearance, this Fiat gets its nose ahead on each and every aspect of dynamics. It soaks roads, handle corners and your overall road experience will be more like wafting than driving. Had Fiat equipped Avventura with capable motor, it would have struck winning combination. Alas! A car with best chassis and body control is plagued by weight and under-power issues which really has gone on to limit the potential this Fiat actually has.
i20 Active: Improved Dynamics
Hyundai has improved a lot on dynamics and thankfully now, driving Hyundai is not a horrible experience anymore. Excessive softness of previous Hyundais’ has gone and suspension now feels competitive in its soaking capacity. High speed stability has not soggy as is case before, and handling feels better too.
Etios Cross: Capable ride, average handling
Etios Cross shows good riding nature though falls short on overall handling in direct comparison against Fiat. Slow-speed ride is a bit jittery though this Toyota gains confidence as whack rises. Suspension is prioritized towards passenger comfort as it feels at home in soaking manoeuvres rather than handling unanticipated lane changes. Body roll in Etios Cross is higher than what we felt in Avventura though it fares better than i20 Active.
i20Active: 3/5 Avventura: 4/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
Hyundai i20 Active is costliest in this lot though comparing its equipment list against Fiat and Toyota makes this high retail value quite justifiable. In fact Hyundai is offering exhaustive features in i20 Active that you won’t get in any other car in its category at such an economical price. Further, i20 Active is a crosshatch that has its own class. It is well-built, looks gorgeous, has soothing interiors, packs diesel punch, and is backed by brand name like Hyundai. If we exclude dynamics from this road-test comparison for a moment, i20 Active beats Avventura and Etios Cross by thumping margin. The only area where this Hyundai got the beating is dynamics and even on this aspect, i20 Active has shown considerable improvement over its previous incarnations. We have little doubt while announcing i20 Active as winner and only way left for Fiat and Toyota to have any chance here, is to go back to drawing board and reincarnate their propositions. Until they do that, Hyundai will have little problem in fending off their challenges.
i20Active: 4.5/5 Avventura: 3/5 Etios Cross: 3/5