What is it?
Hyundai recently showcased its new range of engines at the 2016 Auto Expo in Delhi. The line-up included an all-new 1.0-litre Kappa unit which, according to reports, is likely to make its way into the popular i20 here. While the hatchback is currently available in India with a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel engine, in international markets, the car has already received the new 1.0-litre unit. Our sister publication, Autocar UK, got a chance to drive it and we bring you a glimpse of what the car would feel like from behind the wheel, when it's launched here.
What's it like?
The 1.0-litre engine is a three-cylinder unit and can put out up to 118bhp in some applications, but in the i20, it makes a steady 99bhp. In contrast, the 1.2-litre normally aspirated petrol motor in the i20 sold in India makes 82bhp.
Of course, the three-cylinder has that characteristic hum triples do. It’s quiet enough, but thrummy, endearingly so, as is often the case. Owing to the turbo-charger, the small 1.0-litre unit takes a bit of time to respond. Fortunately, peak torque is accessible from as low down as 1500rpm, although you'd want at least 2000 revs on the clock for it to feel like it’s really on your side; but from then on, it revs cleanly past 6000rpm, and never feels strained.
The 1.0-litre has a five- rather than a six-speed manual ‘box, whose second cog will see you past 100kph, while at 113kph in fifth, the engine’s only spinning at 2500rpm. The long gearing will often see you using a lower gear than expected – second around corners rather than a third.
Given the engine note is lower than a motor with one additional cylinder would be, sometimes it feels even leggier than that. The gearshift itself is easy, although in the same way as the six-speed, it’s sometimes easy to drop it into third instead of first when you’re stationary, but if you’re positive, it responds amiably.
Dynamically, similar applies. Our test i20 rode on 15-inch wheels with 65 aspect ratio tyres, so the ride was pretty controlled. Our last i20 test was a while ago and we felt it was a bit sharp over some imperfections. Obviously this is far from a back-to-back test, but it didn’t occur to any testers to complain about harshness this time. Body control is reasonable too. However, the steering is not as agile as we would have liked.
Should I buy one?
The Hyundai i20 is already quite a popular buy here in India. It was also our Car of the Year in 2015. The addition of the 1.0-litre unit will bring more power and punch to the comfortable and well-equipped premium hatchback and that should only serve to strengthen its case. Although no India launch date has been announced as yet, when it does come to India, the Hyundai i20 1.0 will rival the likes of the Maruti Baleno RS, which will be powered by a 1.0-litre Boosterjet motor from Suzuki and is slated to arrive in Indian showrooms later this year. Now, that will be a hatchback duel to watch out for.
Matt Prior (Autocar UK)