Say hello to the new, third-generation Hyundai i20, driven here in the UK for the first time in not-quite-finished pre-production guise.
A definitive first drive report will have to wait until we can get our hands on an example with a properly finished interior, production-spec noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) measures and a correctly calibrated gearbox. But for now, this left-hooker should give us a reasonably accurate idea of what we can expect from the new i20 when it officially goes on sale later this year.
Stylistically, the latest i20 represents a fairly dramatic departure from its predecessor. Whereas the previous one was a handsome but relatively plain-looking thing to behold, this latest version is much more radical. Hyundai’s rather curiously titled ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language is to blame here, introducing sharper surface treatments, a lower roofline and a wider body to endow this new i20 with a rather more aggressive stance than it had before.
It’s longer now too, both nose-to-tail and between the wheels, which should bode well for passenger and luggage space. Either way, the foundation for the forthcoming i20 N hot hatch certainly looks to be a pretty strong one.
Until that performance model arrives, the i20 engine line-up is pretty run of the mill. The UK offering hasn’t been finalised yet, but everything revolves around two different engines and four gearbox choices. An 83bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol kicks proceedings off at the entry-point to the range and is paired with a five-speed manual 'box. Then there’s the 99bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot, which is available with either a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or a six-speed manual.
That 99bhp 1.0-litre engine is also available with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system as an option, and there’s a 118bhp version too. The 118bhp unit has the 48v system as standard, and is the car we’re testing here. It uses a seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box to drive the front wheels, although Hyundai’s newly-developed six-speed ‘Intelligent Manual’ is also available. The South Korean manufacturer hasn’t confirmed how this affects things like system power and torque outputs, but a 3-4% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is a byproduct of having it fitted.