Hyudai i20 has been the benchmark vehicle for premium hatchback segment in India for a long long time and the 2018 update has definitely raised bar for its competitors in this segment.
Hyundai Elite i20 2018 was one of the two major attractions at the Indian Auto Expo this year. While other manufacturers were too focused on concept cars and the future of automobiles. Hyundai India used this window to showcase the product that the customers can readily buy from a showroom.
Hyundai had created its space in the premium hatchback market in the late 2000’s with the Getz which was a niche product and way ahead of its time back then. The numbers game suffered a great deal as soon as Maruti Suzuki’s Swift diesel made its presence felt. By 2008 Hyundai introduced a new product i.e. the i20 available in both petrol and diesel, with the tag line Uber cool. The 1st gen i20 was atleast two levels above all the other products available in the market and Hyundai was selling a great number of these. However the launch of the 2nd gen Swift in 2011 drew too much attention and it was a great car too, the i20 with on the other hand continued its steady growth. Moving up to 2014 we witnessed the launch of the Elite i20 and Hyundai had touched a new high with a superior product on offering and only competitor the 1st gen Jazz from Honda in its last leg.(Note: 1st gen Jazz didn’t have a diesel option so there was no fight, Elite i20 swept it away) They ruled the market back then with almost no competition but that was then. By 2015 the 2nd gen Jazz was out with petrol & diesel on offer this time, followed by the reincarnated Baleno this time as a premium hatchback. Jazz had stirred the completion up and Baleno was being star-gazed by all those stirred protons & neutrons. The Elite i20 was facing competition from Swift, Jazz and Baleno. It was getting tough to keep up in the market but better not fret not said the Hyundai guys.
At the Indian Auto Expo Hyundai introduced the facelifted Elite i20. But did it click? Yes, it did as a matter of fact as I write this the sales figure for the 2018 Elite i20 are out and according to Autocar India “Hyundai sold 13,319 units (up 7 percent) in March, the 2018 Elite i20 is now at the top in Hyundai’s stable, a place earlier held by the Grand i10” well that tells you the bigger picture.
So coming to car what’s new here? They say it’s a facelift and rightly so there are quite a few changes but the more noticeable ones can be spotted in its rear profile. The car looks quite different from the back and you can easily distinguish this from the previous car with just one look courtesy its new tail-lamp which have horizontal pattern, the tailgate is different here and houses the number-plate which was previously placed on the rear bumper. The new tailgate makes the positioning of the rear camera convenient and the overall look of the tailgate more aesthetically appealing. The rear bumper now comes with a black strip running across the bumper which also housing the reverse light.
Look at it from the side and you won’t notice much change but we did. The blackend out C pillar was previously in a plastic finish which used to fade and needed maintenance but now its in a glossy finish which we expect to retain shine over time as well. Also the new trend of diamond cut alloy wheels appear smaller due to design but are 16 inches with 195/55 Bridgestone tyres on them which provide good grip and are comfortable despite being of lower profile. The comfortable ride from these tyre are equally well supported by the soft suspension setup, which is soft but not bouncy. Also you can opt for black roof and A pillar if twin colour scheme appeals to you.
Coming to the front the hexagonal grill gets a cascading shape as a part of new design language of Hyundai and we can expect this to be featured in tier other upcoming products and facelifts as well. One major change is inside the headlamp assembly which now sports a projector setup and DRL’s as well, the addition of projectors results in massive improvement in night time visibility. Apart from this the bumper has some change in shape, the fog lamps are now triangular and there are air curtains next to them for better aerodynamics, improved fuel efficiency and faster cooling of the brakes.
This exterior update work’s well for me, however there seems to be a mixed opinion on social media regarding its rear tail-lamp where many people are voicing their opinion that they will be inclined towards updating the tail-lamps to aftermarket LED style or even the pre-facelift ones if they still fit. Rest is best till date. It is undoubtedly the best looking premium hatchback in the market today.
Step Inside and you’ll not be disappointed, the two tone dash is pleasing to look at and the plastic quality is good too. The 17.77 cm touchscreen supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, Aux, FM, USB and Navigation supported via SD card. The seats are well contoured with fixed lumbar support which is comfortable for city use, The seats are height adjustable and the steering is adjustable for reach as well as rake; this offers best driving position for everyone. The rear seats are well sized with adequate legroom, shoulder-room and headroom. The steering is chunky to grip with audio and telephonic controls, also you can toggle the MID in the instrument cluster from the toggle switches embedded on the right side of your steering wheel. Hyundai is committed to make your drive safer with all these touches, where you should not be distracted or taking your hands off the steering wheel to do stuff. The climate control is automated with twin adjustable grills in the rear ac vent, which helps when there are two or more occupants in the rear seat. There are ample storage spaces, bottle-holders, cup-holders, sunglasses-holder and a cooled glovebox as well. For more well the sliding front armrest seals the deal for its interiors.
The 2018 Elite i20 we drove is powered by the same 1.2L Kappa Dual VTVT churning out 81bhp and 115Nm of torque which is mated to a 5 speed manual transmission also available is the 1.4L diesel which we will review soon.
The car has a front disc and rear drum brake setup with ABS and EBD. It also has ISOFIX and 6 Airbags along with rear parking camera. It provides top notch safety in its class, afterall there is no grater peace of mind than the felling of safety while travelling
How is it like being behind its wheel?
The Eilte i20 has gathered massive appreciation from the Indian audience for its comfortable ride quality, features and safety ever since its 1st generation and this update is no exception. The 2018 Elite i20 checks all the boxes which any premium hatchback customer looks for. This car eases ones transportation routine, it takes the stress off your shoulders. I realised how the steering is numb but direct, how the brakes don’t give a bite but slow you down quite well and how the gearshifts are not slick but have a very soft slotting feel to them.
The Elite i20 is not a type of car that you want on a race track but it is every bit of car you want on city roads or highways for general everyday use where you communicate from point A to point B without the drive draining you out. If I have to put this car in a line I would say, “it’s the most perfect blend in its category” less engaging and more comfortable for your everyday use.