The i20 has always been one of the more sought-after cars in our longterm fleet, be it for the plushness on offer, the Hyundai-typical equipment list or the overall good performance. In its last month with us though, what struck a chord with me was the fuel economy. My commute from home to office is 11km one way and most of the kilometres I piled on were done in the city. Only a couple of shoots and one weekend getaway saw the hatchback on the highway.
Despite spending a lot of time in Mumbai’s crawling traffic, the 1.4-litre diesel motor, now having been run in for 11 months, returned as much as 14 kilometres to a litre. Out on the highway, this figure jumped to 20kpl; that’s a lot of bang for your buck. Apart from being better for my wallet, the 45-litre tank ensured I had to visit a fuel pump only a couple of times every month; that range really does give you a lot of freedom, especially as I realised on an over-250km drive to Chiplun in Maharashtra. There weren’t that many fuel pumps en route, but the range indicator on the smart and contemporary instrument panel dipped to the last quarter only when Mumbai was looming in the horizon on the way back. What also helps the highway economy is the sixth gear, which doesn’t really add much power but is most effective for cruising. You could be doing 100kph, but with the engine still spinning at just over 2,000rpm.
Talking of high speeds, the car’s highway manners are quite good. What is a bit unsettling is the steering. Like in most Hyundais, the unit is light and doesn’t provide much feel; out on the highway, this robs you of confidence. However, it works great in the city, where you must constantly manoeuvre around in traffic. There are other features of the car too, that make driving in the city a breeze. The clutch is moderately heavy, but not as much as you’d expect of a diesel car. And even when you do encounter that rare empty stretch, you can have a bit of fun behind the wheel. Yes, there’s some body roll and the light steering may not give you the assurance you’d want around corners, but it sticks well to the tarmac. Where the i20 really shines is with the ride quality. It’s a soft set-up and gobbles up our broken roads without unsettling the occupants; only sharp edges and crater-like imperfections thud through. However, our longterm top-spec car comes with the 16-inch alloys which wear lower profile tyres than the lower trims (which get 14-inch rims) and we suspect the cushiness of the ride would improve with higher profile rubber. To add to the convenience, there’s a rear-view camera and rear sensors that are very handy when parking.
And while compact dimensions provide an easier-to-negotiate footprint, on the inside, there’s a surprising amount of space on offer. Both the front and rear passengers have enough leg, knee and shoulder room, though taller rear occupants may have a slight brush with the roof, given the swooping roof line. However, although the seats themselves were comfortable – even on long stretches – the side bolstering, which worked wonderfully to hold you in place up front, was a bit of a nuisance at the rear with three seated abreast.
And it’s not just space for yourself, but all your odds and ends can also be stored easily in this practical cabin. There are plenty of cubbyholes, bottle holders and covered storage spaces both in the front and rear.
We’ve heaped praise upon the quality of interiors in previous reports and at the end of its stint with us, build deserves a mention. Despite doing over 21,000km, there wasn’t a single creak or squeak from any of the panels and the car felt solid even when traversing potholed stretches. If there was any rattling, it would be quite evident though, given the levels of insulation in the cabin and general refinement. Not only is the diesel mill one of the most refined in its class, but also, the suspension goes about its job pretty silently.
So, at the end of its 11th month in the Autocar fleet, when this little Hyundai was being driven away, there were quite a few people watching it wistfully. A good performer, value-for-money package laden with convenient features, this is a commuter we’ll all miss.
Hyundai i20 CRDi Asta
Odometer 21,835km Price Rs 9.93 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) Test economy 16.65kpl (overall) Maintenance costs None Faults None Previous reports November 2014, August 2015