What’s new with Hyundai’s i20 for 2018?

2018-06-21 06:01
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AIMING FOR PODIUM

THE South African passenger car market shrank by one percent this past year but Hyundai increased sales by six percent over previous levels. It is now officially in fourth spot with a market share of nine percent. The only segments showing increased sales volumes were five-door hatchbacks and SUV-Crossovers. Hyundai chose its prime sectors wisely.

Although there’s no need to clamour for attention, a little facelift and model re-alignment doesn’t hurt. The grille was reshaped and DRLs moved down to below the remodelled fog lights. Around back, there’s very little “old” — reshaped tail lamps in a new tailgate, with the number plate raised to just below the Hyundai emblem, new fog and reversing lights and a simplified lower valance. The only change to its side view is new wheels, but that’s always expected. Interior changes include a new dash, bigger information screen and revised vent controls.

The lineup is basically unchanged — a pair of 1200’s with five-speed manual gearboxes, two 1400 cc automatics and a pair of 1.4-litre cars with six-speed manual shifters. One of these is new. There is no longer a Sport model with tweaked engine. Its replacement is called Active and it boasts a completely new face, with different grille, round fog lamps, roof rails, silver skid plates and 20 mm more ground clearance — 170 mm vs 150.

Specific equipment consists of projector headlights with active bending, a racer-style fuel lid, stainless-steel free-flow exhaust and coloured highlights on gear knob, outer seat panels and vent surrounds. These are blue or red, depending on the car’s exterior colour. There’s also lots of black cladding to make it look more Crossover-like — those market segments, you know.

Speaking of colours, there are six — Passion Orange, Marina Blue, Sleek Silver, Star Dust (deep Charcoal), Fiery Red and Polar White.

Standard kit at entry level includes a new infotainment system with four speakers, bluetooth connectivity and 7” display, built-in, but not activated, satnav (buy a card for R2 500), USB charging point, filtered, manual aircon, two airbags, disc brakes front and rear, four-channel ABS with EBD, electrically operated mirrors; powered front windows with one-touch and anti-jam for the driver, on-board computer, fabric upholstery; manual seat adjusters, audio, bluetooth and computer buttons on the tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, central locking and escort lighting. Upper grade Fluid and Active models add powered rear windows, automatic air conditioning, front fog lamps, DRLs, indicator repeaters and electric folding for the outside mirrors, luggage net, rear parking assistance and air vents for rear passengers.

Prices, model for model, have increased by about R5 000 — approximately half of which is owing to the new rate of VAT. There were no surprises on the short test runs along winding country roads and connecting freeways. We were let loose in Fluid and Active 1400s. Hyundai’s little five-door hatch is solid, well-built, handles nicely, performs briskly and inspires confidence. The brand is no longer priced to tempt; it hasn’t been for quite a while. Its forte is value for money, reliability and good resale value; all points it needs in order to hang on to Number Four while shooting for the podium.

Information gathered at a manufacturer-sponsored launch event

•PRICES

i20 1.2 Motion (manual)R229 900

i20 1.2 Fluid (manual)R241 900

i20 1.4 Motion (automatic)R254 900

i20 1.4 Fluid (automatic)R284 900

i20 1.4 Fluid (manual)R266 900

i20 1.4 Active (manual)R279 900

• Warranty — five years/150 000 km with additional two years/50 000 km on the power train

• Service plans — two years /30 000 km for 1.2-litre models and three years /60 000 km on 1.4’s

Service intervals are at 15 000 km.

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