The i20’s predecessors have typically had fascias that seemed simply laid out rather than ‘designed’. It has never been a car to seem at all ‘loaded’ with technology. How quickly things can change.
Even our sub-£19,000 test car has a fully digital instrument screen integrated into a flight-console-like panel that passes behind the steering wheel rim and meets up with the central infotainment touchscreen to make one sweeping, dominant installation.
The digital instruments are bright, simply rendered and clear, and the infotainment system is equally simple and easy to use, so even those suspicious of the creeping adoption of digital technology in mainstream cars have little to fear from either. But together, they certainly make a statement. This is clearly a new-generation i20 aimed at a younger, more technology-savvy buyer.
The rest of the cabin is likewise a surprise in places. The i20 feels big for a supermini – specifically, wide. Even larger adults sitting side by side can easily avoid brushing shoulders, elbows or knees, and there’s plenty of room for them to sit one behind the other in reasonable comfort.
There’s a fine driving position that’s quite low and dead straight, with lots of steering column adjustment. The front seats are a touch hard and have less lateral bolstering than some might like. This isn’t really a sporty hatch, though, as we’ll come to explaining, so just a little bit of support may be enough.
The i20’s dashboard is decorated with horizontal ribs – a feature also to be found around the door handles, air vents, speaker grilles and elsewhere. They’re the kind of garnish that someone who liked an earlier i20 or even a Pony or Getz (remember those?) might consider superfluous. But they do work to give the new i20’s driving environment just a smattering of sensory intrigue, which is very welcome. There’s absolutely nothing else to play to the tactile senses here: not a soft-feeling moulding anywhere and a very limited palette of interior colours.
However hard, the car’s plastics do promise to wear well. They’re not too reflective, they don’t mark up under fingernails and they don’t seem to show the dust or grease much.
Chunky, solid-feeling switches and fittings, among them infotainment shortcut controls so large that they could probably be seen from space, also play a part in conjuring a certain apocalypse-ready aura of longevity and no-nonsense simplicity.
Hyundai i20 infotainment and sat-nav
A simplified, easy-to-use infotainment system that gives users decent audio quality and the ability to mirror their smartphones for sat-nav might have satisfied the Hyundai of old in this section, and that’s pretty much what the base-grade i20, as tested, gets.
The 8.0in touchscreen is compatible with wired mirroring for Apple and Android handsets; it has DAB radio and wheel-mounted controls; and it works very well, giving you big displayed target icons that are easy to hit at arm’s length and allowing you a customisable split-screen ‘home’ display.
Mid- and high-grade i20s have a bigger and better system with in-built sat-nav, among other things. They also get Hyundai’s Bluelink and Live connected services for connected navigation routing, live traffic updates, weather information and more. A five-year data subscription comes with the car. Hyundai’s standard six-speaker stereo sounds slightly tinny, but you get a more powerful Bose system on top-grade cars.