Recently checked out the Elite i20 with fellow TAIgers Guhan and Stingray 91. My review of the new Elite i20: First impressions and design :
Entering the showroom (Chandra Hyundai, Avinashi road), There was a beige colored, glittering Elite i20 isolated from other Hyundai cars. Unusually there as a lot of crowd in the showroom. I guess since the festive season is nearing, everyone is looking for a new car. A sales rep invited us and after knowing that we were interested in the Elite i20, he requested us to check out the car.
Coming back to the Elite i20, I didnt like the front design of the car when I saw in pics. But in real, it looks upmarket and rich. It appears big in person too, but still it looks too weird and not as good as the outgoing model. The CD slot like straight grille is at odds with the big hexagonal grille and the smooth design language. The side profile is fantastic and sporty and the rear too is quite good with those BMW-esque LED tail lamps. I found the rear bumper also a bit odd with it's high-ish mounting and lip. Given that the Grand i10, Sonata, Verna and Elantra are great lookers in every aspect, Hyundai has disappointed me in the i20's overall design. Also the Daytime running LEDs are not provided, which would have given more style to it.
7/10 (Design Not upto everyone's tastes.
) Build and Strength:
The door handles were chrome plated and felt solid enough for a premium hatchback. There was a solid "thunk" sound while closing the door, although not as assuring as the Polo, it's good enough. But the Door Sheet metal was upto the same levels of a Swift or the previous i20. The bonnet is really huge and heavy for a hatchback. The doors feel lighter than a Swift/Vista. The bumpers feel strong. The overall build is quite solid and strong enough for a Premium hatchback.
8/10 (Solid enough
) Interior design, quality and Features:
Opening the door revealed a very upmarket and appealing interior. Every switch and lever has great quality. The seats fabric, plastic parts, door pads, dashboard, metal levers have a very good 'built-to last' feel to it. The only thing which Hyundai could have avoided is the beige color over the dash. It would have been much better if the beige was provided on the lower half of the dash, with black over the upper half. This beige part reflects badly on the windscreen too. Also, Hyundai could have been more original in terms of the overall Dashboard design as the Elite's interior reminds too much of BMWs. (Not a big issue though.)
Coming to the features and equipment, the Elite has a very long list of equipment. Except for a touchscreen Infotainment system, it has got every feature including Automatic headlamps, Keyless entry and Go. I personally think Hyundai could have avoided the Keyless Go system and instead, could have provided atleast 4 airbags in total. (I never liked the Keyless Go system. Are Humans that lazy, to twist even a key?)
Seems like Hyundai is thinking backwards in terms of safety and provide only 2 airbags even in the top-end Asta variant. While only driver airbag is standard on the Sportz variants, there is no airbag or ABS
in the lower Era and Magna variants. Hyundai should have learnt something about safety from the recent crash tests and also from VW, who provides dual airbags standard now in the Polo and the new Vento. The instrument cluster is fully loaded though, with 2 tripmeters and is clear and legible. There is only one reversing light on the rear bumper, which may not be visible to every other vehicle on road.(Another serious safety omission)
While safety equipment have been compromised, the Elite has loads of convenience and entertainment features.
8/10 (Concentrated more on creature comforts rather than safety) Space and Comfort:
The quality of the seat fabric is quite good, but the front seats are a bit too narrow and highly bolstered to make people with large frames very uncomfortable. It will be a "pain in the back" experience for even moderately built people like me. (I'm 5'11" with a moderate frame) But a good driving position is quite easy to find, thanks to the seat height adjust and a Steering that adjusts for both, rake and reach. Every control falls to hand quite easily, except the buttons on the center console, which get confusing. The front center armrest provides a very relaxed and comfortable driving position for long, highway drives.
The rear seats are a highlight of this car as they are quite comfortable and spacious enough, with quite good support. Although the rear head- restrains cannot be adjusted, they provide enough comfort and are big enough to provide adequate safety. Although the rear seats are quite low and the door lip intrudes too much, they are comfortable enough for long drives and three persons can actually fit in without much squeeze. With the driver's seat adjusted to my position, there was adequate kneeroom for me in the rear, although my shins were rubbing the Driver seats lower part. (I have longer legs.) For most Indians though, this will be a good, comfortable back seat with good kneeroom and headroom, unless people with long legs like me or really tall people are driving. That said, this car is not as comfortable or spacious as a Tata Zest/Vista though.
Visibility is average from the front and rear seats as well, because of the thick A-pillar and high window-line. Rear AC vents are also a part of equipment, but it is not so effective and also hampers the space for the middle passenger.
8/10 (Good rear seats, front seats only for thin/slim people) Practicality:
The Elit has a really useful and big boot for a hatchback. At around 280 litres, there is enough space for a 2-3 days long trip. The glove-box is quite average sized though. There are lots of cubbyholes such as the medium sized storage compartment under the front center armrest, bottle holders on every door and cup holders in between the front seats.
8/10 (Big boot for a hatchback and lots of cubbyholes.) Audio:
The audio performance of the Entertainment system in the Elite was adequate enough. The Bass, although a bit hollow, is adequate. Clarity is good. But still, this system cannot match the outright quality and clarity of the Harmann unit in the Tata Zest.
8/10 (Good enough audio performance)
Now coming to the Drive part, we are a bunch of Diesel-heads, rather than Petrol-heads, so we decided to drive the Diesel Sportz variant. After a long wait, the SA guy came with the car. Refinement:
Now special mention must be made of the Refinement and sound insulation in the Elite i20. There is absolutely NO engine noise inside the cabin. The diesel noise can be heard only if the car is revved beyond 2500 rpm. All this refinement, even without an under-bonnet insulation cladding! There is not even an inch of insulation padding on the under-side of the bonnet. The Elite feels a bit more refined than the Zest and definitely musch more than any Multijet equipped car. The Engine is very smooth to rev as well. A bit of Suspension noise can be heard while going over speed breakers though.
9/10 (Great noise insulation and refinement.) Performance:
The Elite's 1.4l CRDI engine produces 90 PS of max power. This engine's response is adequate enough for city driving. Although there is a bit of numbness below 1500 rpm, it is not as bad as any Multijet powered car. The turbo surge is very linear and is not as the Multijet, also the mid range is not much powerful than the Multijet. There is not much progress beyond 2500 rpm and it is best to shift-up around 2000-2500 rpm, as per the gear indicator on the instrument cluster. City driving and cruising at speeds of 100-130 kmph is where the Elite CRDi works better.
7/10 (Better for city or cruising on highways) Transmission:
The Petrol variant is available with a 5 speed manual tansmission whereas the diesel gets a 6- speed manual transmission. Gearshifts are slick and quick and the clutch too is very light and very helpful in city traffic. All the controls are light enough, but this lightness makes it devoid of any feel or feedback, which doesn't provide confidence during spirited or highway driving. The 6th gear is good enough from 1500 rpm (I shifted up once from 4th gear to 6th gear at a speed of 60 kmph) and it pulls well. Although it is best for highway cruising.
8/10 (Light and slick, but devoid of feel. Good for City driving only) Ride and Handling:
Ride quality is good enough for city speeds and for highways upto 130 kmph. But there is a bit of stiffness felt over large bumps or long, undulating bad roads. It is not uncomfortable, but not as comfortable or stable as a Tata Zest or a Suzuki Swift. There is a bit of floating if the tarmac is "less than perfect", but it is much better than the previous i20 or the Verna. The suspension setup is a bit better than the Xcent/Grand i10 too.
7/10 (Comfortable enough for City speeds and adequately stable for highways.)
Though Hyundai seems to be successfully learning the art of suspension tuning, where Hyundai simply fails is the handling department. It fails once in the Elite's handling too. The Motor driven Electric Power Steering feels extremely numb and devoid of any feel or feedback, irrespective of the speed. It reacts too quick even for small steering inputs, irrespective of the speed and this feels like a toy. Although this light steering setup is a boon in the city, it is terrible at higher speeds because there is no feedback from the wheels or roads, which is much needed at higher speeds for confidence. The Zest's, Polo's and Swift's EPS fare much better in this department, whereas the Figo and Punto are the best handlers.
6/10 (Strictly a city handler) Braking:
The Elite gets front Discs and rear Drums for brakes. Brakes feel a bit spongy on the new i20. While they perform adequate, there is very little feel. ABS
8/10 (Adequate stopping power) Safety:
The Elite i20 has a strong and rigid body. But only the top- end Asta has dual airbags. ABS
is provided on the Sportz, Sportz (O) and Asta variants only, while the Sportz variants get a driver airbag only. Smart pedal is standard on all variants whereas Clutch lock is provided only on the Sportz (O) and Asta variants. 4 inertia-reel seatbelts and a center passenger lap belt are standard on all variants with only the Sportz, Sportz (O) and Asta variants getting Pre-Tensioners for the Driver and front passenger.
These make the Asta variant very much safe, but additional airbags as on the previous i20, would have made it much more safer. Also dual airbags should have been made standard on all variants.
Only a crash test will reveal the safety rating of the Elite i20.
7/10 (A step backward in safety for Hyundai by omission of curtain airbags and omitting airbags on lower variants) Price:
With the Petrol Elite i20 variants price ranging from 6 to 8 lacs and Diesel variants price ranging from 7.2 to 9.3 lacs, the Elite i20 seems to be pricey premium hatchback. But with all the equipment and quality, it seems to be worth it.
8/10 (Reasonable pricing) Verdict:
The Elite i20 provides a great urban hatchback package by combining good space and practicality, smooth and tractable engines, adequate ride stability and City-friendly handling and controls. But it has some faults too; The front seats are too narrow, performance is inconsistent, some may not like the front design or the omission of safety features on lower variants and the very numb, toy-like handling. All this makes the Elite i20 an Urban hatchback at best. Also, as an Urban hatchback, the Elite i20 seems to be just a bigger Grand i10 with a bit more features and a better engine. Moreover there are the more practical compact sedans such as the Xcent, Zest, Amaze and Dzire at a more affordable price and at the same size of the Elite. Also, there are the Swift, Polo, Punto which are the Elite's direct rivals. All these choices could make the buyer's decision real tough. There are upcoming cars like the new Honda Jazz and Tata Bolt too, which could make the decision even more tougher.
If you need strictly an Urban car, with just little appeal for highways, but more space than it's direct rivals, then the Grand i10 and Elite i20 can be considered in your list. If you need a good highway car, the Elite is not suitable. The choice depends on your needs. Overall rating: 7.5/10
Thank you for reading my review.