The car's interior and exterior make use of Hyundai's 'Fluidic Sculpture 2.0' styling language, and take cues from more recent models like the i10, resulting in a more modern and distinctive look.
Exterior design features include a low-slung version of Hyundai's now-familiar hexagonal grille and a gloss black C-pillar that creates the impression of a semi-floating roof.
Underpinning the i20 is a new platform that features a 45mm longer wheelbase than the previous model, helping boost interior space. This, coupled with a reworked interior layout, is reputed to allow the i20 to seat five adults in comfort.
A 326-litre boot is offered, 36 more than that offered by the likes of the Ford Fiesta, further bolstering the i20's claimed spaciousness and practicality.
Compared with the previous model, front-seat occupants enjoy 33mm greater headroom at 1038mm, 24mm more legroom at 1098mm, a 6mm increase in the hip room to 1301mm) and 15mm more shoulder space at 1365mm.
Additional legroom was created in the front by raising the height of the dashboard and moving the glovebox and surrounding components forward - made possible due to the longer bonnet.
In the rear, headroom is 978mm, legroom is 794mm and shoulder room is 1350mm, allowing, says Hyundai three adults to be seated in comfort.
Luggage space in the boot has been increased from 295 litres in the current car to 326 litres, which the manufacturer says is a class-leading figure. The rear bench can be folded fully flat to expand luggage capacity to 1042 litres. A two-stage luggage floorboard can be moved up or down to conceal items.
Hyundai says one of the key aims for its design team was to "ensure the i20's perceived interior quality is among the best in the segment".
It incorporates a soft-touch material called high-grade Thermal Plastic Olefin (TPO) on all key surfaces in the cabin, such as the dashboard and door trims. Hyundai says the material is highly durable and will maintain a premium look even after frequent use.
“The dash and the door materials are the first a potential customer touches after the steering wheel, so these need to be good quality and, most importantly, soft,” said Christian Löer, head of product management and pricing at Hyundai Motor Europe.
The dashboard is angled five degrees towards the driver for ease of use. Front-row occupants in the new i20 benefit from more head, leg and shoulder room than the current model and Hyundai claims three adults can comfortably be accommodated on the rear bench.
The interior colour schemes complement the exterior paint finishes and can easily be seen from the outside. The new generation i20 interior is available in a choice of four colours: beige, blue, brown and grey.
A coloured inlay runs the full width of the dashboard and around the door handles. Matching the colour of the seat and door armrest upholstery, the inlay encompasses new air vents, which overhang the dashboard into the door and are designed to improve airflow in and around the cabin.
Key systems such as audio, heating and ventilation have been grouped together to make the centre console as functional and easy-to-use as possible.
There are larger cup holders in the centre console and storage for 1.5-litre bottles in the door as well as a centre console box for extra storage.
The rear passenger doors feature a 1.0-litre bottle storage space. The lid of the centre console box is finished with a soft-touch fabric, allowing it to double as an arm rest.
The new i20 will also be offered with a panoramic sunroof that can both tilt and fully open, which is a unique feature on a B-segment vehicle.
Hyundai has also worked to improve the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) qualities of the new i20. The new platform utilises more lightweight, high-strength steel for stiffer torsional rigidity, which in turns improves ride quality, reduces core weight and enables the resultant damping gains to mitigate NVH.
The body structure is composed of 42 per cent lightweight, ultra high-strength steel, compared with 16 per cent in the outgoing model. Together with reinforcing loops fitted to the B- and C-pillars and the tailgate opening, this raises torsional rigidity by 81 per cent.
The new model also has increased sound absorption throughout the cabin, and the wing mirrors have been designed to improve airflow and minimise reduce wind noise.
The new i20 is fitted with technology that's new to the class, such as a lane-departure warning system, while it also gets the automatic windscreen defog and a heated steering wheel first seen on the Hyundai i40.
Other new features include a dashboard-integrated seven-inch satellite navigation system integrated into the dashboard, automatic folding door mirrors, front and rear parking assist, and smartphone docking integration. USB and auxiliary connectivity is fitted as standard. The i20 features enhanced instrumentation thanks to a 3.5-inch OLED LCD cluster.
Hyundai will also offer the i20 with the option of a full panoramic sunroof which can both tilt and fully open. Other options include an integrated rear-view camera and front and rear LED lighting.
The new i20 will be available with a choice of two petrol units from the 'Kappa' family and two diesels from Hyundai's 'U-II' range.
A 1.2-litre four-pot is offered in two states of tune. The lower-powered unit produces 74bhp at 5500rpm and 90lb ft at 4000rpm, while the higher-powered variant has 83bhp at 6000rpm and the same amount of torque. This all-aluminium engine comes with five-speed manual transmission as standard.
Hyundai claims that both variants will return 60mpg on the combined cycle and emit 109g/km of CO2.
The other petrol option is a newly developed 'Kappa' 1.4-litre four-pot. The 1352cc unit weighs 87kg, a reduction of 14kg over its predecessor, the 'Gamma' 1.4-litre. It produces 99bhp and can return 53mpg and emit 122g/km of CO2. This more powerful engine can be selected with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.
Diesel options comprise 1.1- and 1.4-litre units, both of which come with a six-speed manual gearbox. The lower-powered unit produces 74bhp at 4000rpm and 133lb ft at 1750-2500rpm. It can achieve up to 86mpg on the combined cycle according to Hyundai's claims, and 86g/km of CO2.
The more powerful diesel has 89bhp at 4000rpm and 177lb ft at 1500-2500rpm. Economy is put at 76mpg and CO2 emissions at 97g/km.
Five trim levels are offered, with standard S models getting front electric windows, remote central locking, tinted windows and a USB port. S Air models also come with air conditioning. SE versions - tipped to be the biggest sellers in the range - get 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, reversing sensors and front fog lights.
Higher-specification Premium cars get automatic headlights and wipers, climate control, LED DRLs and a mobile phone docking station, while top-spec Premium SE cars come with a panoramic roof, front parking sensors, and a heated seat and steering wheel.
Next year a new 1.0-litre triple petrol engine will be added to the Hyundai i20 line-up. A more performance-orientated i20 variant may also be on the cards, with upgrades coming from Hyundai's new 'N' performance division.
Hyundai's new arm has plans to launch a series of highly tuned road cars from its base near Frankfurt, working alongside Hyundai Motorsport and the firm's World Rally Championship team. The i20 is the most logical first choice to receive the N treatment, given that it already forms the basis of the Korean manufacturer's rally car.
The launch of the Hyundai N brand is part of the company's plans to create a more emotional link with its customers, as well as making its cars more dynamically focused and growing its European market share to five per cent by the end of the decade.
The Hyundai i20 will come as standard with the company's five-year unlimited mileage warranty package, which additionally includes five years' worth of roadside assistance and vehicle health checks.
Prices for the new model start at £10,695 for the 1.2-litre S model, rising to £16,725 for the top-spec 1.4-litre CRDi diesel in Premium SE trim.
Find out more about the new Hyundai i20 with What Car?'s exclusive video preview, below.
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