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Hyundai shines its i20 light at Paris

Getz smart: Like its larger i30 sibling, the i20 was designed at Hyundai’s European design centre in Russelsheim, Germany.

Hyundai unveils full details of its Getz light-car replacement

8 Oct 2008

By DAVID HASSALL in PARIS

HYUNDAI pulled the wraps off its all-new Getz-replacing i20 at the Paris motor show last week, but only in five-door hatchback form as the three-door version will not be ready to unveil until next January.

The i20 has been designed for the European market and will go on sale there in January, undercutting the price of its main rivals, the Volkswagen Polo, Honda Jazz and Ford Fiesta.

It will tackle the market-leading Toyota Yaris (which also comes in sedan form) and the Mazda2 in the growing light car segment as Hyundai's entry-level model in Australia some time in the first half of 2009.

While the i20 is built in India for obvious cost-reduction purposes, the Paris launch made much of the fact that the stylish newcomer was designed at Hyundai's European design centre (in Russelsheim, Germany) and was developed there – through hot-weather testing carried out in Spain, cold-weather testing in Sweden and high-speed testing on the autobahns in Germany.

The car is also said to possess the “taut and alert ride quality favoured by the European market” and the styling bears the BMW influence of the bigger i30 and smaller i10 (not sold in Australia) models that have done much to improve the Korean car-maker's impact in the diverse Continental market.

It features heavily scalloped sides, a trademark chrome-topped grille and teardrop headlights up front, and stacked tail-light clusters at the rear.

With an extended (2525mm) wheelbase and an almost square track (1505mm front and 1503mm rear), the all-new platform features MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a torsion beam at the rear while the steering is a new rack-and-pinion setup that the engineers say is faster and more accurate to suit urban driving conditions.

1 center imageThey also say that extensive use of advanced noise reduction materials – particularly in the diesel-powered models – has resulted in very high levels of refinement that provide a more refined and cosseting cabin ambience.

While the attractive body was presented only in five-door hatch guise, there was no shortage of engine variants announced at the launch with no less than seven variants consisting of three petrol units and four Euro IV-compliant turbo-diesels.

The entry-level model for Europe is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol developing 59kW of power and 118Nm of torque, available only with the standard five-speed manual gearbox, but this will not come to Australia.

The two bigger petrol engines (which share the same bore dimension) come with variable valve timing and the option of a four-speed automatic. The 1.4-litre version develops 75kW at 5500rpm and 137Nm at 4200rpm while the 1.6-litre version produces 94kW at 6300rpm and 118kW at 4200rpm.

Performance for the 1.6-litre version is a respectable 9.5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint with the manual, but that blows out to a leisurely 11.4s for the auto.

Fuel consumption is 7.5L/100km on the combined European cycle (8.1L/100km for the auto) while the all-important CO2 emissions figures – which were spruiked in Paris this year like power figures were not so long ago – are 140g/km and 150g/km respectively.

On the vital (for Europe, at least) diesel front, there are two pairs of engines – 56kW and 67kW versions of a 1.4-litre common-rail direct-injection unit available only with a five-speed manual, and 86kW and 96kW variants of a 1.6-litre version that is linked exclusively to a six-speed manual.

Acceleration figures for the diesels range from 10.4s to 16.2s, but the fuel consumption and emission figures are intriguingly similar across the range, with both 1.4-litre units recording 5.5L/100km and 116g/km while the more powerful 1.6-litre engines are actually better at 5.3L/100km and 115g/km.

More impressive was a low-emission 'i20 blue' model that was shown as a concept at the Paris show, but which is expected to appear as a production variant by the middle of 2009.

Powered by the 67kW/220Nm 1.4 CRDi turbo-diesel with low-friction oil, other modifications include a six-speed manual transmission instead of the regular 1.4’s five-speed unit, a 15mm lower ride height, full-length underbody covers and low-resistance tyres. Fuel consumption and emissions are claimed to come down to 4.2L/100km and 99g/km as a result.

Putting the statistics aside, the i20 impresses with both its external appearance and its interior style, which appears to be at least to Japanese standard in appearance. It will be interesting to see if the Indian build quality meets the same level.

At 3940mm long, 1710mm wide and 1490mm high, the new i20 is longer, wider and lower than the popular Getz it replaces and that extra size naturally provides more interior space, with seating for five and 60:40 split-fold rear seats that fold flat to expand on the standard 295 litres of luggage space.

Hyundai aims to hit its rivals hard on the features front with the inclusion of standard (in Europe at least) climate control, MP3 audio system with integrated data display screen, a multi-function steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring system, height-adjustable driver seat, keyless entry and electric windows and mirrors.

Other features include a cooled glovebox, two cupholders and a reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls.

On the safety front, the i20 comes standard with electronic stability control as well as six airbags – front, side and curtain – active headrests, front seatbelt pretensioners and ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution in addition to the tyre pressure monitoring system.

Consequently, Hyundai said it is confident of achieving a five-star Euro NCAP adult occupant protection and child protection crash test result for the i20.

Read more:

First look: All-new i20 Getz Hyundai's Paris limelight


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