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First drive: Hyundai i20 bursts on to scene

New baby: Hyundai's i20 is set to replace the ageing Getz.

Hyundai's all-new light car arrives in Australia – and looks set for big sales

13 Jul 2010

ON TRACK for 80,000-plus sales in Australia this year, Hyundai today launched arguably its most important new vehicle – the Indian-built i20 – which will eventually take over from the Getz as one of its biggest-selling models.

Pricing the i20 from a competitive $14,990 (plus on-road costs) for the three-door opener, Hyundai Motor Co Australia has, as expected, positioned the light-sized car upstream of the $13,990 Getz, providing for a smooth run-out of the latter in the coming months and room for the smaller sub-light i10 – a second Indian-sourced model for the South Korean brand that is expected to be launched here early next year.

Just as the i30 small car has overtaken the still-strong-selling Getz over the past 12-18 months as the company’s number-one model in Australia, the i20 is crucial to HMCA’s quest to become one of the top-three car companies in Australia, with the fastest-growing mainstream brand having targeted a market share of around 10 per cent by 2012.

After another record month in June, in which it sold more than 8000 cars to take fourth position from Mazda to sit behind market leaders Toyota, Holden and Ford, Hyundai has recorded more than 42,000 sales for the first six months of 2010 to be 41.5 per cent ahead of the same period in 2009 – a year in which it defied the economic downturn to lift sales 39 per cent on the previous year when the market overall fell more than seven per cent.

This year’s first-half result is Hyundai’s best, and represents an eight per cent share of the new-vehicle market – just 0.1 per cent behind Mazda, 1.3 per cent shy of Ford, and 1.4 per cent more than where Hyundai was at the same point last year.

As GoAuto has documented, recently released new-generation models in the ix35 compact SUV and i45 medium sedan will, with the i20, fuel further growth, along with more all-new models due to be launched in 2011 – i10, the redesigned Accent ( ‘i15’) and Elantra (‘i35’), and the Accent-sized Veloster (aka the ‘i25 Coupe’).

1 center imageThis is to say little about various new model derivatives, such as wagons, diesels and petrol-electric hybrids – or a mini SUV, medium and large coupes, an all-new large sedan and, further down the track, even a one-tonne utility.

But for now our focus is trained on the i20, which as anticipated has arrived in Australia in three-door and five-door body styles, with a 1.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine powering both versions at the entry level (now known as Active) and a 1.6-litre available in mid-series (Elite, from $18,490) and high-series (Premium, from $21,490) five-door model variants.

A five-speed manual is standard across the range, with a four-speed ‘HiVec’ automatic transmission adding $2000. The five-door version of the Active adds $1000 onto the RRP, starting at $15,990, while metallic/mica paint is a further $320.

As we have reported, HMCA has also received Australian Design Rule certification for a diesel i20: a 66kW/220Nm 1.4-litre turbo-diesel.

However, as expected, diesel i20 variants – which also include an 85kW/260Nm 1.6-litre CRDi in Europe – have not materialised at launch and are likely to only join the line-up at a later stage on the basis of customer demand.

Of particular interest with the i20 is the level of standard equipment, and whether the car has arrived with a features list that improves markedly upon the retiring Getz, production of which ends in South Korea in October.

In short, the answer is yes, but side and curtain airbags are still unavailable on baseline (Active) variants – even as an option to match rival entry models such as the Mazda2 – which forces safety-conscious customers to either forgo these features or move to the Elite or Premium grade where they are fitted standard.

Otherwise, the safety list across the range runs to dual front airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners (with load limiters), seatbelt reminders and height-adjustable head restraints for all five occupants, electronic stability and traction control, and four-wheel disc brakes (256/262mm diameter front/rear) with ABS, EBD and brake assist.

There is no sign of cruise control but, other than that, no real shortage of comfort and convenience items across the range, with most boxes ticked.

Consider the standard inclusion of air-conditioning, remote central locking, an alarm, electric windows, electric mirrors (five-door only), MP3/WMA/CD stereo (with USB/iPod connectivity and auxiliary input jack), tilt/reach-adjustable steering, height-adjustable driver’s seat, a cooling function in the glove compartment, metallic paint on the dash stack, and 15-inch wheels on 185/60-section tyres – including a full-size spare.

Moving to Elite adds front foglights, two extra speakers (to six), a trip computer, leather-clad steering wheel (with remote audio controls), leather-wrapped gearshift, alloy wheels (replacing steel wheels on Active) and extra storage facilities, such as a bag hook and luggage net.

The Premium grade swaps black cloth trim for part-leather seats (black with red piping) and a leather-covered driver’s seat armrest, and adds climate-control air-con, front maplights, and 16-inch alloys on 195/50 rubber.

While GoAuto will publish its drive assessment online from tomorrow afternoon, the design, engineering and packaging work that has gone into the German-designed i20 look, in total, to be a considerable improvement over the Getz.

For starters, European NCAP testing has provided it with a maximum five-star safety rating (with side and curtain airbags fitted), which makes it among the best performers in its class. The Getz managed four stars when fitted with optional side airbags.

It is also built from an all-new platform, riding on a longer 2525mm wheelbase (up 70mm) and offering small increases in length (up 115mm to 3940mm) and width (up 45mm to 1710mm), while overall height falls 5mm to 1490mm. The front/rear wheel track measures 1500/1503mm.

Maximum luggage volume for both body styles is 295 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seat portions up, extending to around 1060 litres with them folded.

Kerb weight ranges from 1117kg for the 1.4 manual to 1565kg for the 1.6-litre manual/auto.

Power comes from Hyundai’s new ‘Gamma’ 16-valve twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine family.

The 1.4-litre version produces 73.5kW at 5500rpm and 136Nm at 4200rpm, which is a fair improvement over the 70kW/125Nm 1.4 in the Getz S.

Overseas data shows that the five-speed manual version of the 1.4 i20 can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 11.6 seconds when running on premium unleaded (not mandatory on Australian versions), with the four-speed automatic reaching 100 clicks in 12.9 seconds.

Combined-cycle fuel economy on the ADR 81/02 benchmark is 6.0L/100km for the manual, while the auto consumes more at 6.4L/100km. (Getz: 6.1 man/6.9 auto.) CO2 emissions are likewise slightly better with the new engine, down to 142g/km for the manual and 152 for the auto. (Getz: 145 man/165 auto.)The 1.6, meanwhile, produces 91kW at 6300rpm and 156Nm at 4200rpm, which is powerful enough to see the 0-100km/h time fall below 10 seconds with the manual – to 9.5 – while the automatic requires 11.4 seconds.

Again, the i20’s new high-series engine out-muscles the current 78kW/144Nm 1.6-litre offered in the Getz SX and has a greener tinge, too, offering 6.1L/100km mileage (auto: 6.5) and 144g/km in CO2 emissions (auto: 155) compared to the Getz’s auto/manual 6.2/7.0L and 148/167g.

Specific chassis tuning was done for Australia, but the suspension hardware is standard small-car fare and similar to the Getz with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear (although now with gas shock absorbers both front and rear).

The steering is electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion, tuned for sharper responses than in the Getz. Turns lock to lock have reduced to 2.8, but the turning circle has increased slightly to 10.4m.

Accessories available include front and rear parking sensors, and a direct-connect lead for an iPod.

Hyundai i20 pricing:
Active 1.4 3-dr $14,990
Active 1.4 3-dr (a) $16,990
Active 1.4 5-dr $15,990
Elite 1.6 5-dr $18,490
Elite 1.6 5-dr (a) $20,490
Premium 1.6 5-dr $21,490
Premium 1.6 5-dr (a) $23,490

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