Road Test

Hyundai Elite i20 diesel road test

By   |   19 September,2014

Introductions please?

This as you know by now is the new Hyundai Elite i20 which is the successor to the i20 and Hyundai's premium hatch challenger. It has been launched with a 1.2 petrol and a 1.4 diesel with prices starting at Rs 4.89 lakh. The Elite i20 will compete with the likes of the Maruti Swift, VW Polo, Fiat Punto Evo etc, so the big question is should you consider the Elite i20 if you are in the market for a premium hatch? We tested the diesel version in Jodhpur to find out.

How does it look?

The previous i20 though good looking was, erm, a bit soft in its styling which has been eradicated in the new one. The styling is edgy, bold and aggressive. It is not a riot of curves or slashes like some of the other more aggressive designs but we think it's a good looking car that will appeal to many. Featuring the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language the Elite i20 has the common Hyundai design elements like the hexagonal front grille.

Some of the details that stand out are the front airdam finished in chrome, large swept back headlamps, black C-pillar, 16 inch diamond cut alloys and striking wrap-around tail-lamps. To our eyes the front is the most interesting part but the rear also looks good while looking a bit like an Alfa Romeo! Compared to its predecessor the Elite i20 no doubt looks better and modern. When it comes to paint quality and build the Elite i20 is an improvement over the previous one and is among class best now.

What about the interiors?

The Elite i20 length is actually less compared to the previous one but its wider and with a longer wheelbase it is more spacious than before. In-fact we would say it is one of the most spacious premium hatchbacks that you can buy. The beige and black combination makes the cabin seem spacious and airy plus the doors which open wide allow for easy entry/exit.

The front seats are comfy but the star here is the rear seats which are among the most spacious in its class and three at the back is easy plus the presence of a rear aircon vent sweetens the experience. As a chauffeur driven car the Elite i20 hits the spot.

While the design is simple the quality befits the premium tag. The materials and all the knobs feel premium and nice to use. The three-spoke steering, centre-console all reek of quality. However we think the centre-console is a bit busy with all those buttons and the screen is a bit too small.

Obviously you would expect it to be feature loaded and it is. You can read our detailed variants and features article for that. Some notable observations during the drive was that the aircon worked well in the Jodhpur heat and the music system sounded good.

What about the drive?

We tested the diesel version and having also driven the petrol briefly we have to say that the diesel is our choice. The diesel is the 1.4 U2 CRDi unit making 89 bhp of power and 22.4 kgm of torque. The petrol is a 1.2 Kappa unit with 81 bhp. While there is no automatic version the diesel Elite i20 gets a 6-speed manual gearbox with the petrol having a 5-speed one.

Starting it up and the excellent refinement is immediately apparent and taking the exit out of the hotel the ease of driving the Elite i20 shows up. The gearbox is easy to use and the clutch is light plus the light steering makes navigating through unruly traffic a breeze. There also a healthy amount of power at the low rpms and throttle response is pretty good. You are not in a constant need of shifting through the gears thus for everyday city driving the Elite i20 gets full marks from us.

On finding some open roads it was time to see what this diesel motor is capable off and here it impressed. Though the engine gets quite vocal at high rpms performance is strong plus the 6th gear makes this an excellent highway cruiser. When it comes to fuel efficiency the Elite i20 manages 21.76 kmpl for the top-end diesel variant we were testing.

What about ride and handling?

Here it is an improvement over the previous one. The earlier i20 lacked the steering or handling required from a premium hatch and this one has changed all that. Stability at high speeds is good and the steering has been improved though not quite class best but for most it is enough. Taking corners at high speeds saw the Elite i20 performing well though the petrol was more livelier we noticed. With fatter tyres the i20 would be even better.

The ride still continues to be strong point as we found out on many bad roads and the new found handling talents have not spoiled that.

So final thoughts?

The Elite i20 just takes the plus points of the previous models and adds in better dynamics and sharper looks which makes it a more serious contender for the title of premium hatch king. It is spacious, well packed with features, good looking and now drives better. It is not for the enthusiast but for car-buyers looking for a premium hatch the Elite i20 nearly ticks all the boxes required from one.