Hatchbacks are a blessing in the chaotic jumble that is our urban traffic-scape — be it for the compact dimensions which make them easy to manoeuvre through tight spaces, or the fuel economy which is generally skewed to be wallet friendly. While the i20 does fulfil these requirements, where it really shines through is in how it made me feel during the time I was using it for my daily office commute.
The description ‘premium hatchback’ really holds true for this little punter. It’s a smart-looking car, this one, but more importantly, the cabin is a really special place to be in. From the material quality, the styling to fit-finish and amount of equipment on offer, it all adds up to a feeling of plushness that’s not generally seen in this class. The kit on offer is also something that is a boon for those long hours you spend sitting in traffic; the Bluetooth and aux compatible audio system, the 1GB onboard storage and the 12V charging sockets, among others, make sure you stay thoroughly entertained and without ever running out of juice. The tiny screen is something that may seem a bit incongruous here, but Hyundai has promised to add a new touchscreen on the top variant in August. What also makes a big impression are the little things, like the rear-view camera — it’s a huge convenience when trying to squeeze into those tight parking spots.
As pleasant as sitting in mile-long traffic pile-ups is in this car, driving around on our poorly paved and pothole-dotted streets is also fairly convenient. The motor responds well enough to light taps on the throttle and the light steering makes even my over-one-hour commute from Parel to Juhu seem fairly effortless. When the roads open up though, you have to factor in the turbo lag; mashing your foot down on the accelerator doesn’t provide a burst of acceleration immediately and you have to wait for the 1.4-litre diesel motor to bubble up. The ’box works well though, and gears slot in precisely, if with a slight rubbery feel. The suspension handles the rough stuff pretty well, except for those gargantuan, moon-like craters and bumps that are hill-like in proportion. The steering is pretty accurate and it does go around corners without too much rolling, although it’d be a stretch to describe the i20 as sporty. The other factor that stands out in the i20 is the real estate on offer on the inside. The front seats are comfortable, wide and supportive, though some may not be too happy with how soft the cushioning is. In the back, there’s tonnes of room to stretch out and the rear AC vents are a blessing on those stuffy Mumbai days.
The longest stretch I managed to keep the Hyundai with me was over a weekend and it didn’t take long to realise why everyone at the office was always hankering for it. It’s convenient, frugal, comfortable and well-equipped. Most importantly, it makes you feel special in a way no rival can, not in this segment or even a class higher.