When coming up with the ix20, Hyundai’s designers took New York City as their inspiration, because they needed more space without being able to increase the car’s overall footprint. So they went upwards and turned the i20 hatchback into a bit of an MPV. Clever.
The style and dimensions of the ix20 work well. At the front, there’s a large trapezoidal grille that’s bisected by a body-coloured strip on early cars. The grille takes up the full space on the front of the car on later examples. Higher-spec models have a couple of fog lights at the bumper’s lower edge, while lower-spec cars have plastic panels here.
There’s a large windscreen and 2 front quarterlight windows ahead of the front doors, so visibility is great, although the upswept rearmost side windows do compromise your over-the-shoulder view. The tall, upright doors make getting into and out of the car easy, and the large tailgate allows easy access to the boot.
They went upwards and turned the i20 hatchback into a bit of an MPV. Clever
What’s it like to drive?
Early cars came with the option of a 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre petrol engine, or a 1.4 turbodiesel. As Hyundai slimmed down the range later in the vehicle’s life, only the 1.6 petrol was available.
The 1.4 diesel is the star of the range, because it gives the car loads of low-down pulling power for when all 5 seats are occupied, and at the same time displays a keenness to avoid refuelling stops.
All the controls are light and positive, which makes driving the ix20 around town exceptionally easy. The gearshift is light, the steering is quick, and the pedals are easy.
Hyundai has also managed to tune the suspension so it deals with everything the UK roads can throw at it, but without being so soft that the car pitches and rolls like a ship in a storm.
Hyundai has also managed to tune the suspension so it deals with everything the UK roads can throw at it.
You might be buying a Hyundai ix20 because you need the space and flexibility it offers. At the same time, you certainly don’t want to feel like you’re purchasing the automotive equivalent of a hair shirt. Thankfully, Hyundai knows this so has given the ix20 an interior that looks and feels reasonably special.
The instrument binnacle itself is comparatively conventional. It features a couple of clear circular dials for the rev-counter and speedometer, with a digital display between them that shows your fuel level, the coolant temperature, plus subsidiary information. To the left of this on top of the dashboard is a small digital display for the clock.
Below this, on some earlier models, is the audio system, which comprises a radio and CD player. On later versions, this unit has been replaced by a touchscreen infotainment set-up that you can use to operate the radio, Bluetooth mobile phone system, and the audio system. You can also change various systems using this screen. Look out for this, as we feel it’s a great addition to the interior.
Beneath this is an unusual-looking ventilation control system that features a couple of ‘stacked’ dials that allow you to change the temperature and fan speed. These dials are surrounded by a cluster of buttons that give you the ability to direct the airflow around the vehicle.
Under this, ahead of the gear lever, sits a small storage area that also houses a couple of USB sockets and a 12v power outlet.
If a car is going to succeed at providing the flexibility and usability of an MPV in the footprint of a supermini, then the designers have to get the grey matter working overtime to make everything work.
The good news is that Hyundai’s boffins clearly put in a few overtime shifts on the ix20. That high roofline means loads of headroom for everyone, and there’s plenty of legroom for those up front.
The good news further back is that the rear seats can be slid backwards and forwards, which allows you to prioritise leg space or boot capacity as required.
The boot becomes huge when you fold down the rear seats flat. It’s more than big enough for a weekly shop or a couple of weeks’ holiday luggage.
Running costs and reliability
As mentioned, the 1.4-litre diesel is the star engine, and it should manage an average of 65.7mpg. If petrol is your fuel of choice, the 1.4 is still sweet and should manage an average of 50.4mpg, which is good for a petrol car.
The ix20 has a five-star rating from crash test body Euro NCAP, which helps towards its lower insurance ratings – it starts in group 7 and rises to group 13.
What we love
The Hyundai ix20 is an unassuming car that’s a whole lot more talented than people give it credit for. Those inoffensive looks shroud an interior that’s properly clever in the way it blends space with little touches that give it genuine flexibility.
The driving experience is easy and stress-free, and the large glass area gives a tremendous view out. The ix20 also comes with the sort of standard kit that makes daily life easier, such as air-conditioning.
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You could be forgiven for underestimating the Hyundai ix20. It’s well worth a look as it provides plenty of space for young families and should be cheap to run. Add in the fact that it’s safe and well-equipped and you’ll find it difficult to resist.
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