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Test driving the Hyundai Elite i20

Dispel your doubts — the Elite i20, despite its grand countenance, regal name and a rich interior, is very much accessible to the mainstream car buyer

The way Hyundai brought the Grand i10 to life soared expectations from the new-generation i20, or the Elite i20 to some. After the company unveiled the car, the Elite i20 flaunted its Euro-centric inclinations, evident from its evolved exterior style, a reinvigourated focus on sophisticated, understated and feature-rich interiors. 

The sleek, affordable Elite i20
The sleek, affordable Elite i20

We pilot this newest machine from the Korean carmaker in the semi-urban setting of the historical city of Jodhpur. With the majestic Umaid Bhawan Palace as a grand backdrop, we drive the new Elite i20 through the streets of the Blue City to evaluate and appreciate its abilities.

Design and styling
The Elite i20 represents the next rendition of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy. It adopts a more cautious course to reach its design goals. The tweaked approach is evident in the way the car looks as compared to the rest of products bearing the Fluidic Sculpture hallmark.

To start with, the radiator grille has taken a really low position on the massive new bumper. On top of the headlamp units are white accents, which would turn into daytime running lights for the Euro spec variants.


The Elite i20 comes with a rearview camera, with the internal rearview mirror as its screen

In profile, the large, swept back headlamps extend onto the fenders. Window frames get a black plastic treatment, but more importantly, the wide C pillar has been blacked out completely for a ‘floating roof’ look. The new eight spoke wheels look nice, too.

Where the Elite i20 really stands out is at the rear. In all honestly, we just could not take our eyes off those aggressively styled LED tail-lamps. The horizontal, jewel-inspired units look fantastic, especially when lit.

Cabin, comfort and features
Inside the cabin, the quality, finish and design have gone up several notches. The three spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel is brand new and features mounted controls for audio and telephony. The instrument binnacle has been revamped. While we appreciate the detailed Multi Information Display offered at the centre of instrument console, we sorely missed the fuel efficiency related stats such as distance to dry and average efficiency.

The audio system is a great unit, offering fantastic sound through its eight speakers and allowing playability via CD/Bluetooth, aux and USB. The blue backlit system, just like the Grand i10 comes with a 1GB on-board memory.

The internal Rear View Mirror (RVM) doubles up as the reverse parking screen offering a decent resolution and good visibility even on a bright day.


The eight-speaker music system sounds great and offers compatibility with all devices. The A/C comes with climate control 

Storage spaces come aplenty with one big water bottle holder and map pockets in each of the front door panels. There are two cup holders between the front seats followed by a flip open central armrest with decent storage. The glove compartment is decently-sized and chilled to help keep your beverages and head cool on a hot day.

The seats are large, comfortable and offer decent lateral support. Under-thigh support is great too, both at the front and back. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, though none of the front seats get height adjustable seat belts.

Also, the headrests for the back seats are adjustable only on the top-of-the-line Asta variant. The luxe factor has been augmented with the inclusion of a rear A/C vent.

Boot space is one of the largest in the segment at 280 litre, and next only to the class leading space of 295 litre offered by the Polo. The Polo, however, doesn’t offer a split back seat, the Elite i20 does.


The quality and layout of the interior has been improved significantly. The buttons are soft to touch and have a quality feel about them

The features’ list is generous with twin airbags, ABS, parking camera, auto headlamps, keyless entry, push button start, power folding ORVMs, auto A/C, tilt — telescopic adjustable steering wheel, twin power outlets and rear A/C vents being the most mentionable of the lot.

Engine, transmission and performance
For this review, we drove the top of the line Asta variant of the 1.4 litre UII CRDi diesel engine powered car. The output for the diesel version remains the same as the previous generation car with peak power output rated at 90 PS @ 4,000 rpm and peak torque rated at 220Nm between 1,500 — 2,750 rpm band. Transmission duty is taken care of by a 6-speed manual unit, offering great cruising capability with minimal consumption on open highways. A light clutch, along with slick shifts makes controlling that hardware an easy affair.

The ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 22.54 kmpl offered by the i20 is second only to the Maruti Suzuki Swift, and that too by a very small fraction. We honestly believe that by virtue of its tractable engine, strong low rev torque and capability to cruise at higher speeds at low revs, the Elite i20 should actually best its segment in terms of fuel efficiency in the real world.


Those tail-lights are absolute head turners. The horizontally aligned, jewel-inspired lamps look stunning when lit

Performance is appreciable post 2,000 rpm and the Elite i20 can manage almost anything you throw at it in the real world without having to cross the 3,500 rpm mark. The engine is redlined at 4,900 rpm, though you can travel very swiftly without ever having to get anywhere close to that mark.

Ride and handling
The most notable difference affecting this car’s road manners is its stiff suspension. The ride at slow speeds is not as soft as the previous gen version, though it has helped the Elite gain great composure at speed.
The steering, though, doesn’t have much feel, especially when the car is being driven straight on. The Elite i20 turns in with confidence and composure with the Bridgestone B250 195/55 R16 rubber (lower spec variants get narrower tyres) offering ample grip.

There is a bright side to the light steering too, though. It’s effortless and a delight to use in the city’s cramped spaces. Practical users, especially ladies, will admire the ease and convenience it offers.

Our verdict
It may not be the most exciting car to drive, but for what an average Indian consumer wants from his everyday drive, the Elite i20 checks all the boxes. If you like what you see in the pictures, we’d say, go ahead and buy this Korean hatch, as it does almost everything to delight a classic Indian big hatch customer. Probably the most well-rounded hatchback on sale in India, the Elite i20 bears testimony to Hyundai’s understanding of this market. It’s also an opportunity for many other car manufacturers scrambling to taste success in the segment, to watch and learn.

Price
Rs 4.89-6.47 lakh (Petrol)
Rs 6.10-7.67 lakh (Diesel)

Technical specs 
Engine (diesel) — 
1,396 cc, DOHC, CRDI, 
Diesel engine
Transmission — 
6-speed manual 
Power — 90 PS @ 4,000
Torque — 220Nm between 1,500-2,750 rpm 
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) — 22.54 kmpl

For lower budgets

Chevrolet Beat

The compact, funky-looking Beat was chosen by the users as their preferred design to be put into production from a concept stage. General Motors went all guns blazing with the expressive styling of this car, lending it character and attitude. For India, it comes with a choice of a 1.2-litre petrol or an extremely fuel efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder diesel engine. Offering a well-appointed, though slightly cramped interior, and a generous list of features, the Beat offers itself as a value for money, stylish hatchback.
Price: R4-6 lakh

Grand i10

The Grand i10 raised the bar in its segment with its mature exterior and interior styling, fantastic packaging and great segment-first features which include an on-board 1GB memory for the audio system and a rear A/C vent. The Grand i10 is offered with a 1.2-litre petrol and a frugal 1.1 litre CRDi diesel engine. Hyundai’s impeccable reputation for its products and sorted after-sales service should makes the Grand i10 a solid choice for those looking for a feature-rich budget hatchback
Price: R4.4-6.4 lakh

Grand i10

The Grand i10 raised the bar in its segment with its mature exterior and interior styling, fantastic packaging and great segment-first features which include an on-board 1GB memory for the audio system and a rear A/C vent. The Grand i10 is offered with a 1.2-litre petrol and a frugal 1.1 litre CRDi diesel engine. Hyundai’s impeccable reputation for its products and sorted after-sales service should makes the Grand i10 a solid choice for those looking for a feature-rich budget hatchback
Price: R4.4-6.4 lakh

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