The Hyundai ix20 is a compact MPV from the virtually do-no-wrong ascendant Korean car maker Hyundai. And it’s a car with which the firm deserves even greater success.
The recipe for that success is simple: offer cars that are just as good as those of the established volume players, and in some cases better. Back them up with a great warranty. And make them outstanding value. Not cheap, just good value.
Fathered by that philosophy, the ix20 has the likes of the Citroën C3 Picasso and Nissan Note in its sights. It comes from the firm’s Nosovice plant in the Czech Republic, and shares a great deal with its sister car, the Venga, from its corporate bedfellow Kia.
However, Hyundai makes the Venga for Kia, not the other way round – and that fact allows Hyundai UK to price the ix20 even more competitively than the Kia.
But despite being such a great-value proposition, there is almost nothing that seems low rent about the ix20. Like the ix35 SUV, it’s handsomely styled, and has a decent quality cabin with simple, robust materials. It’s very practical, too. Hyundai loudly and proudly proclaims that, thanks to sliding rear seats, you’ll find more rear cabin space in here than in the back of a Volvo XC90. Even large adults won’t want for head or legroom.
If you fold the rear seats flat you can accommodate 1486 litres of luggage, which is more than you get in some medium-sized estates. With the seats upright, you still get a reasonable 440 litres. All that’s missing is a folding front passenger seat for very long loads and a little extra oddment storage, but you can’t have everything.
Like its Kia Venga sister model, the ix20 comes with a choice of 1.4-litre petrol, 1.6-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines – but unlike in the Venga, even the cheapest 1.4-litre petrol gets a fuel-saving engine start-stop system. The 1.6-litre petrol is around half a second faster to 62mph than the 1.4-litre's 12.9sec time, but an increase in CO2 emissions to 154g/km will hurt.
The most frugal variant, the 1.4-litre, 89bhp, 162lb ft CRDi oil-burner returns 65.7mpg on the combined cycle while emitting just 114g/km of CO2.
Mechanical refinement perhaps isn’t quite as good as we’d hoped, however. Hyundai’s four-cylinder diesel engine is gruff above 2500rpm and a little laggy below, but its petrol option is quieter and more responsive, if more expensive to run day-to-day.
But even so, thanks to its ISG stop-start technology, the petrol is still a genuine 50mpg car, and, with CO2 emissions of just 130g/km, the only petrol-engined car in the class to qualify for a £90-a-year tax disc.
But despite the excitement over its great-value credentials, There’s little on offer from the ix20 for interested drivers. Performance is acceptable but modest, the steering system feels a little vague and inconsistently weighted, and the car lacks handling precision and body control at bigger cross-country speeds.
Such things aren’t likely to bother most mini-MPV drivers, of course – but for the record, the Nissan Note is a more engaging car to drive.
If you like a bargain, however, the ix20 gets the nod, especially seeing as you get ESP, air conditioning and USB connectivity as standard. A 1.4-litre Nissan Note has a lower basic price, but fit it with the same kit, extend the warranty to five years, and you’ll find it becomes a more expensive car that’s still less practical and economical than the ix20.
Cars such as the Citroën C3 Picasso and new Vauxhall Meriva offer more space than this car, but at a considerable price. If you’d rather have a practical supermini that still feels small, that’s very well packaged and fit for purpose, and that you won’t have to pay a big-car price for, this Hyundai comes highly recommended.