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The third generation of the i20, the city car from Hyundai, has changed dramatically but its goal remains the same: to compete in the same category as the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. To achieve its ends the Korean to a secret weapon: the micro hybridization.

Design: in search of an identity

But before we dive into the engine of this i20, let’s first take a tour. Hyundai has made a fairly radical design change, opting for sharper lines and attempting to enhance the sacrosanct dynamism dear to … just about all manufacturers of the moment. In fact, the curves of this i20, without being unpleasant, far from it, still lack a little originality. As for the sporty side claimed loud and clear by the manufacturer, it is present but not to the point of giving its identity to the new i20.

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Inside, technology is evolving

This aesthetic trial and error is limited to the exterior of the car. The interior is much more homogeneous and quite successful. Hyundai has been keen to bring a dose of technology on board and it also benefits from good integration. This is the case, for example, with 10-inch digital instrumentation, the interface of which changes according to the chosen driving mode. This is also present on the central screen, also 10 inches. Inlaid on the dashboard and slightly oriented towards the driver, it presents a rather refined system, with clear menus.

It is obviously possible to plug in your smartphone to favor CarPlay or Android Auto, but Hyundai is one of those manufacturers who has not completely given up on solutions from Apple and Google … and who is changing its interface in a smart way. This is particularly the case with the navigation, which is among the best we have had to test this year.

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A plethora of driving aids and equipment

This is a habit that has been around for several years, and one that Hyundai maintains with this i20, that of quality equipment and standard driver assistance. Indeed, the Korean manufacturer has always strived to offer more complete equipment than the competition, with the aim of compensating for its lack of notoriety in our regions. Despite the recognition of its know-how and even a recent move upmarket, this habit has not been forgotten. It is therefore not surprising to get on board a car which from the first price point (15,950 euros, for the version without hybridization) has a fatigue detector, maintenance assistance in the track and even smart high beams. As for the mild-hybrid version that interests us, it adds the reversing camera, parking assistance and of course Android Auto and CarPlay connectivity.

As for the comfort equipment, it is also up to date with, for example, an induction charger, two USB ports in the front and even a USB port for the passengers in the rear.

The Hyundai i20 on the road, how does it look?

Aside from aesthetic aspects and pure equipment considerations, the i20 wants to show another face: that of a car capable of competing on the road with hexagonal city cars. To do so, its 100 hp 1.0 Turbo engine is now accompanied by a 48 V light hybridization.

This mild-hybrid system is to be differentiated from the one on board full hybrid cars or plug-in hybrids. This is because microhybridization only comes into play during startup and acceleration. In this last phase, the electrical assistance is barely noticeable. As a result, this choice is especially useful in town, when the stop & start system is used the most or in sport mode on short acceleration. Out of this very precise framework, driving in i20 becomes more classic.

Moreover, although Hyundai has made interesting progress in terms of chassis, it is still a bit rough and does not offer the same “road feel” as a Renault Clio or a Peugeot 208, the strong point of the French.

Above all, and this is undoubtedly the most damaging, this microhybridization fails to reduce consumption, which varies between 6 and 7 L / 100 km according to our tests. Finally at Hyundai, as with others, the mild hybrid has above all fiscal virtues, by allowing the manufacturer to lower its CO2 emissions.

Test verdict:

Hyundai has unquestionably taken its i20 forward. The new version of the city car is based on recognized strengths (level equipment and driving aids galore) while offering a new, more consensual design and more “European” driving sensations. For anyone who prioritizes technology and equipment over driving feel, Hyundai’s proposal makes sense. But when it comes to driving pleasure and on-board comfort, the French are staying one step ahead and the addition of a pseudo-hybridization won’t change the game.

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