Before going to see the new Mad Max film, Fury Road, I took the opportunity to revisit Mad Max 2, The Road Warrior. I can remember watching this aged 16 in 1981 at a now demolished 1930’s cinema in my home town & although I have seen it a couple of times since, I had forgotten quite how good the second Mad Max film is. The Dystopian future portrayed in the original Mad Max films, sees life or death decided by who has control over the production of oil to manufacture fuel to power petrol guzzling V8’s & the like driven by the characters in the film
Back in 1981, car manufacturers weren’t making, advertising or selling cars that were fuel efficient. Indeed no one in the UK would have bought a car based on MPG, but in most cases simply how much a car cost was the driving force. Reliability was also a factor & by the end of the 1980’s Japanese brands such as Honda & Nissan had a firm foothold in the UK buying market offering good value, reliability & to a lesser extent improved fuel economy, if not world beating looks. The late 80’s also witnessed the first Hyundai cars, built by an industrial giant from Korea, imported & sold in Britain. Models such as the Pony offered rudimentary motoring at a very low cost, but importantly established the brand in Europe where today Hyundai & KIA models are commonplace.
Fast forward to 2015 & Hyundai recently launched their second generation i20 into the market place, a far cry from their Pony & Accent models from the past. Like all modern cars it’s got bigger, with a larger platform than its predecessor. The wheelbase of the New Generation i20 is 45 mm longer than the outgoing model, meaning the wheels are closer to each corner. The New Generation i20 is longer, wider and lower. The body shell is 40 mm longer (overall length 4035 mm) and 16 mm lower (overall height 1474 mm). The width has increased by 24 mm (overall 1734 mm) making it one of the widest cars in its class.
At the rear, the new i20 features a large tailgate for ease of loading into its generous boot space , which is up 10% on the previous generation car to 326 litres. Again, the 1027 mm wide opening is one of the broadest in the segment. Size it seems is very important in the B Segment, where the traditional customer base of this sized car has been eroded by the rise & rise of SUV’s, Mini SUV’s & the like.
One of the new i20’s arrived at Company Car for appraisal in May & the first thing you notice is how attractive it looks, much more so than it’s predecessor & a clear example of Hyundais European design which has massively improved the overall look of the Hyundai model range, as well as updating & improving the ranges safety. For example, every new generation i20 model is fitted,as standard, with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), which work in combination to reduce wheel spin or loss of vehicle control on low-friction road surfaces. The ESP has been carefully tuned to be as unobtrusive as possible during driving, creating a natural and comfortable driving experience. Also standard on New Generation i20 is Hyundai’s Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) system, which activates the hazard warning lights if a driver suddenly brakes heavily, warning drivers of following vehicles of the car’s rapid deceleration. The application of brake tie rods within the brake booster provides a number of benefits to customers: improved braking strength, better braking stability, increased brake pedal feel and a reduction in ambient vibration.
There are seven trim levels – S, S Blue, SE, Premium & Premium SE with two flagship trims, Premium Nav & Premium SE Nav both gaining a new touchscreen infotainment system with satnav, a DAB radio and a rear parking camera in the i20 range. But it is the attractiveness of the i20 that really stands out. Highlights include the distinctive trapezoidal grille, swept-back headlamps, gloss black trim panels covering the C-pillars & boomerang shaped rear lights.
Inside, the Hyundai now comes close to matching the class leading Fiesta & Polo for neat design & upmarket appeal,. The dashboard is neatly designed & very well laid out with a large speedo & rev counter, with the major switchgear logically sited & the aforementioned cruise control as well as Bluetooth, infotainment & vehicle information neatly controlled via steering wheel buttons being the highlight.
My test model was the 1.2 petrol i20 SE powered by the the 84ps engine. With a top speed of 105 mph & a 0-62 mph acceleration of 13.1 seconds, it does feel slow off the mark & you really have to work the gear box to generate any acceleration speed particularly on the motorway. And this was when I was driving alone, so fully laden it would be even slower. On the motorway, the inclusion of cruise control means that you can at least set the i20 up at a motorway speed & it will remain there, at least until you have to put on the brakes in heavy traffic or if someone overtakes in front of you. Handling is okay, there’s no discernible body roll when cornering, but it’s thoroughly unengaging. The flip side though is that for city driving it’s actually perfect, because speed & acceleration on city streets is largely irrelevant.
The 1.2 84ps engine offers a combined fuel economy of 55.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km, neither of which is earth shattering. However, as well as looking fantastic, what really makes the i20 stand out in the class, is it’s equipment list & price, both of which are first class. The SE offers 16” alloy wheels, auto up/down electric front windows, Bluetooth® with Voice Activation, cruise control + speed limiter, front aero type wipers, front fog lights, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), leather wrapped steering wheel / gear stick, map lamp / sunglasses holder, radio/USB/AUX/CD/front speakers, rear electric windows, reversing sensors, a space saver spare wheel & tweeter speakers. all for £12,725.
As a business customer, doing big miles, the diesel i20 makes far more sense. The 1.1-litre three-cylinder in S Blue trim is able to return over 88mpg with tax-free emissions of 84g/km. The more powerful 89bhp diesel, will still return an impressive 68.9mpg with emissions of 106g/km.
In conclusion, the i20 shines brightest for it’s prettiness, equipment list, price, practicality & build quality. The only negatives are is that it’s underpowered in 1.2 petrol format & has high emissions for a small car. A new, greener 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol engine will arrive later this year & if you can wait for this to arrive then you should, or better still choose the diesel, which will also save you money if you drive in excess of 10,000 miles per annum.
The premise behind Mad Max 2, that petrol is the new gold, could still very well happen. But, the makers did not foresee the development of electric or hybrid powered cars, which at least in the short term, will help oil reserves. Mad Max would definitely not be enamoured with having to drive across the Wastelands in a 1.2 petrol engined Hyundai i20- it’s just not quick enough- but at least he would save some of the precious fuel he used if he did.
A Humungous 3/5.