After its success with the Scrappage Scheme which raised the company’s profile no end in Britain, DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says Hyundai needed something good to keep the momentum going – and the ix20 is it.
HYUNDAI is one car manufacturer which has progressed more than most in the last few years, upping its game massively with a succession of impressive new models which have endeared the company to thousands of new customers.
I doubt any other manufacturer profited more from the Scrappage Scheme than Hyundai did. Having been perfectly placed with an affordable range of cars the company reaped the rewards, helped by clever marketing, and saw its sales figures rocket as a result.
The challenge for Hyundai’s dealers when the scheme came to an end was to maintain the sales momentum which had been created – surely a big ask, and one which meant the company had to think “outside the box”, but with a facelifted i30 range, and now the introduction of the attractively-styled ix20 which I’ve been testing this week, the Korean manufacturer is giving its dealers the tools with which to do the job.
The ix20 impressed me much more than I thought it would. For a start, not having seen one “in the metal” until my test car arrived, I hadn’t realised how big it was. The silly TV ads didn’t do it justice either. To give you an idea of scale, think Renault Scenic.
Attractively designed, the ix20 is easy on the eye. It’s a spacious five seater, with a good sized boot, the floor of which has more storage space underneath. The rear seats can also be folded down with the flick of a lever, which also folds the seat bases down, to provide a huge, flat cargo space.
The instrumentation on the dash is clear and easy to read, and it is well equipped, featuring electric windows all round, air conditioning, remote central locking, a trip computer, a CD multichanger built into the dash and MP3 connectivity.
The range consists of three trim levels, Classic, Active and Style, incorporating petrol and diesel engine options – either a 1.4 (89bhp) petrol, 1.4 (89bhp) diesel, 1.6 (123bhp) petrol. There is also a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.
Designed and developed in Rüsselsheim, Germany, at Hyundai’s R&D centre, the car is built at the company’s newest European plant in Nošovice, in the Czech Republic.
The hexagonal front grille is a design feature that will gradually appear on all Hyundai models and is intended, the company says, to give the car a “friendly face”. I’ll let you decided on that one.
The driving position is quite high, as you would expect in an MPV, providing a good view of the road ahead, although I did find the large A-pillar – the chunk of metal that holds the windscreen in place, very intrusive and had to make a point of looking around it, particularly on roundabouts and junctions. It’s a common problem with cars of this type – one that the triangular window between the leading edge of the driver’s door and windscreen only partly alleviates. You do get used to it after a while, but you could easily lose a pedestrian, or motorcyclist in the blind spot it creates – you have been warned!
Other than that, I think the ix20 is an excellent car to drive. The ride and handling is certainly as good as anything in this class, but when you realise that Hyundai’s engineers did the fine-tuning on British roads, it becomes clear why it is so good. As one engineer from a German car manufacturer told me a few weeks ago, the roads in the UK are so challenging, if a car works well there, it will work well in the rest of Europe. How true – and that was before the latest snow and ice carved more craters into already third-world roads!
Hyundai’s thinking outside the box has created an attractively styled car which is excellent to drive and practical to live with. Post Scrappage Scheme, I think Hyundai still has an awful lot going for it – not least, its excellent five year warranty.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Hyundai ix20 1.4 Style.
HYUNDAI ix20 RANGE: From 1.4 Classic 5-door (£11,595) to 1.6 Style Auto 5dr (£15,085).
ENGINE: 1396cc, 89bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 130g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 104mph. 0-62mph in 12.9 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 42.8mpg.
Fuel tank: 48 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 8.
WARRANTY: 5 years, unlimited mileage.
• All data correct at time of publication.