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Hyundai ix20 review (2010 onwards)
What - Hyundai ix20 1.4 CRDi Classic
Where - Isle of Wight
Date - 12 October 2010
Price - £12,395
Available - November 2010
Key rivals -Nissan Note, Citroën C3 Picasso, Vauxhall Meriva
Summary - Capable, stylish family car that offers good space at sensible money. It looks good too.
We like - Very roomy interior, high driving position, versatile load space
We don't like - Diesel not the most refined, initial economy far from brilliant.
Designed in Germany and built in the Czech republic, the Hyundai ix20 is far from just another Korean model shipped over from the Far East. It's a car aimed specifically at the needs of Europeans.
The ix20 falls into that curious segment of the car market, the compact MPV. Not that these cars are odd, simply it's curious that more buyers haven't fallen headlong for what they have to offer.
Cars like the Renault Modus and the ix20 are usually based upon smaller superminis. New tall bodies liberate masses of space inside, so they make great cars for young families at not much more than supermini prices.
But sales haven't exactly been dynamite, we suspect because most offerings look gawky and/or boringly earnest. Hyundai aims to crack these issues with the stylish ix20.
Two engines will form the basis of the range, both 1.4-litre, and both with 89hp, though one is a diesel, the other petrol. There will also be a 1.6 petrol for those who want automatic transmission.
We had only the diesel to drive on the launch. It's a bit noisy when idling and around town, and not especially lively in these conditions either.
At motorway speeds things improve both aurally and in terms of enthusiasm; the Hyundai bowls along very happily, with decent throttle response when you ask for it.
We suspect some of the low-speed issue may be down to the extreme newness of these cars, which had covered just 500 miles. By 5,000 miles the engines should have got looser and more responsive.
Still, the £1,000 premium for the diesel engine is always questionable on small cars when the petrol version is also likely to be very economical, so we'll have to wait to see how the cheaper model compares.
Ride and handling
It's hard to believe, but Hyundai has taken moulds of British roads back to the factory to emulate them on test tracks so that their cars are better suited to our requirements.
The ix20 is the first fruit of this idea, and though much is made of its success, the result is competent rather than outstanding. The suspension is comfortable enough most of the time and the power steering and handling are easy and safe.
The ix20 does come with a good supply of electronic aids to keep the car stable even when the tyres start to slide, plus hill start assist that holds the car for a moment without the handbrake being applied.
In spite of some rather solid plastics on the facia and doors, the interior of the ix20 is a good place to be. The instruments are clear and well laid out, the centre console smart and easy to use.
The seats give support in the right places but they are firm and a long way from being sumptuous. The key thing, though, is the space. This has more room inside than Hyundai's i30, which means it beats cars like the Focus and Astra by some margin.
That's a strong selling point for a car aimed at families, and the appeal will extend to older drivers who'll appreciate the higher seating position when driving and getting in and out.
Boot space is very good, with an adjustable floor so that luggage can simply be slid in or, if the floor is lowered for extra capacity, dropped over the sill. Folding the rear backrest moves the cushion forward and down at the same time, leaving a perfectly flat load space.
Air conditioning is standard across the range, as is connectivity for an MP3 player. The steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach - a rarity on cars from Far Eastern manufacturers.
Economy and safety
Hyundai is quoting 65mpg for this diesel model with its six-speed transmission. That's impressive but like the so-so performance, these figures probably won't be approached until there are a few thousand miles under the belt.
The 1.4 petrol produces 50mpg under the same circumstances, which means that if you buy the diesel it will take you four years before you start to recoup the £1,000 premium (at 10,000 miles a year). It's worth thinking about.
There is a full contingent of airbags, include front side and curtain bags, plus anti whiplash headrests. There are no EuroNCAP crash test results yet but recent Hyundias have scored the full five stars.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Hyundai ix35 is a good-looking, eminently sensible car that offers much to potential owners. The interior space is impressive at this price level, and the ix35 drives, if not superbly, well enough.
There's also every sense of a quality, well-developed car, not a simply cheap and cheerful one as Hyundais used to be until comparatively recently. The five-year warranty that includes European breakdown cover will be a clincher for many private buyers.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.4, 1.6|
|Power, hp||89 - 123|
|Torque, lb ft||101 - 162|
|0-62 mph, secs||8.6 - 12.9|
|Top speed, mph||104 - 114|
|Mpg combined||43.6 - 65.7|
|CO2, g/km / Tax||114 - 154 / 13% - 19%|
|Ratings||Hyundai ix20 1.4 CRDi Active|
|Ride & handling||***|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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