The ix20 comes with a choice of three engines: an 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol with 5-speed manual, an 89bhp 1.4 CRDi with 6-speed manual – both ‘Blue Drive’ engines with fuel-saving Stop & Go technology – or a 123bhp 1.4 petrol mated to a 4-speed auto transmission, all with Hill Start Assist. Claimed performance for the 89bhp 1.4 CRDi isn’t spectacular with 0-62mph in 14.5 secs and a 104mph top speed, but the diesel’s 162lb/ft of torque available at 1,750-2,750rpm is the figure that counts because there’s useful power freely available when accelerating out of slower corners or roundabouts.
Although this ‘Korean car’ was designed in Germany and is manufactured in the Czech Republic, its suspension and handling has been fine-tuned on British roads to cope with our awful surfaces. Hyundai’s engineers have done themselves proud as the ix20 rides comfortably, steers responsively and deals well with bumpy B-roads. It also measured up when I hit a truly massive ‘yump’ at about 45mph and the car almost took off. In fact, it probably did take off, and due to an awkward combination of angles and cambers it landed all skew whiff, but the gas-damped ix regained composure remarkable swiftly.
The ix20’s lower centre console and central tunnel is made from a less-than-top-grade hard black plastic, but the upper sections of the dash and instrumentation are very neatly designed, well-finished, tactile and user-friendly. Hyundai obviously has confidence in its product judging by this car’s 20,000 mile service interval and its 5-year, unlimited-mileage warranty with five years of roadside assistance and free vehicle health checks – all of which should help allay any reservations following the brand’s just-below-average ranking in the 2010 JD Power vehicle ownership survey.
The ix20 hasn’t been subjected to it yet, but Hyundai has built it to achieve a maximum 5-star score in Euro NCAP’s crash test. With a full complement of the latest active and passive technologies, safety features fitted as standard to all ix20s include ABS, EBD and ESP, front, side and curtain airbags, active head restraints, childproof rear door locks and ISOfix childseat mountings, while security is handled by an immobiliser, speed-sensitive auto door locking, remotely operated deadlocks with alarm, and locking wheel nuts on two of the three spec variants.
The dash, instrumentation, controls and asymmetric design of the cloth upholstery (inspired by a leaf’s skeleton and also employed on the speaker grilles and front air intake) all add to the cabin’s quality ambience. With ample room in all directions, the ix is roomy and capacious for a car of this size with 440-litres of loadspace (60/40 split/fold rear seats up, to top of seat back) extending to 1,486-litres (rear seats down, loaded to roof). In addition there’s under boot storage plus an adequate array of cup holders, stowage trays and armrests etc..
At the time of writing Hyundai couldn’t confirm exact pricing, but an accurate estimate would be from about £11,500 to £13,000. The basic ‘Classic’ spec model includes aircon, electric front windows, a 6-speaker radio/CD/mp3 compatible audio system with USB/aux inputs (some iPod functionality), an eco-drive indicator and a trip computer all as standard. The ‘Active’ version adds alloy wheels, electric rear windows, Bluetooth connectivity, reversing sensors and more, while the ‘Style’ also comes with front fogs, rear privacy glass, electric folding door mirrors and an electric tilt/slide panoramic sunroof. Throw in the 1.4 CRDI’s CO2 of just 114g/km (currently £30 annual road tax) and 65.7mpg combined (expect c.50mpg in real life) and the ix20 becomes an even more persuasive package.