Buying a car is one of the most enthralling experiences in one’s life. The joy of buying and owning a car is an experience which one cherishes throughout the life cycle of the car. For us, owning a car wasn’t something new, but the ‘upgrade’ itch caught us totally of guard, due to the constant problems arising in our then car, the Maruti Suzuki Zen Estilo.
Our daily driver was a Maruti Suzuki Zen Estilo, which was purchased in September 2009. The car came with K10B Engine, which was the same engine powering the WagonR. Although the first gen Estilo looked hideous and ugly, the facelift that happened in August 2009 gave the car a more mature and upmarket look. We had hopped into the nearby MS dealership to check out the WagonR, and that was then we saw the Estilo facelift for the first time. It didn’t look masculine nor it had any differences with the WagonR. It was a spacious tallboy, which offered more space and comfort over WagonR, but not to forget it was priced at a premium over the WagonR! It was only a matter of time, the Estilo was booked, loan was sanctioned and we took the delivery of our beloved Estilo on September 09, 2009 i.e. 09.09.2009! The car, at the time when we sold it had clocked over 150K kms! The car was so reliable, that we just didn’t want to buy a new one. But Estilo’s constant problems had forced us to look for upgrade options in the market. Firstly, the clutch replacement was due. Earlier, the clutch had been changed twice and suspension was also begging to be replaced. The power steering module had also failed and the whole assembly needed to be replaced. The occurrence of these problems now meant a new car in the house was ready to be welcomed.
The search started, and we hopped into the nearest Maruti dealership to check out the Swift. The Swift had started to look dated but offered tremendous bang for the buck value, which forced us to check it out. The salesperson was very well informed and told us if we were planning a premium hatchback, we must check the Baleno which was launched only a couple of months back. The Baleno was sold only through the Nexa dealerships and the nearest Nexa showroom was quite far away. Still, we hopped into the Nexa showroom and a Ray Blue Baleno greeted us at the entrance. My father immediately liked the car, and following a Test Drive, we booked the car at a token amount of INR 11,000/-. The sales person quoted a waiting period of 6 months, which surprised us a bit but we still went ahead with the booking. 2 months later, we were informed that the delivery might further get delayed due to tremendous demand. The constant issues plaguing up with Estilo meant we had to go ahead with Swift or check out some other car. We went to the regular Maruti dealership, and somehow, my mother didn’t like the Swift. We tried convincing her a couple of time, but all the efforts went in vain. We then decided to hop into the Hyundai showroom which was just a stone’s throw distance away from the Maruti showroom. A Creta welcomed us into the showroom and we saw an Elite I20 in stardust color parked in the corner of the showroom and my father immediately looked at it and sat in the driver’s seat. A test drive followed and me and my mother too liked the car. We booked the car immediately and informed the Nexa sales person to cancel the Baleno booking. We took delivery of our I20 on April 08, 2016. Some free accessories offered to us in the form of Mud Flaps, Seat Covers and a Car Perfume. Must say, it was an enthralling experience.
Now, coming back to the Car!
Car: Elite I20 Manufacturer: Hyundai Variant: Sportz Fuel type: Petrol Color: Stardust On-Road Price: INR 7,46,764/-
Elite I20 is powered by a 1197 cc Kappa VTVT Petrol Motor which produces 83 ps of power and 115 nm of torque. Power is sent to the Front Wheels and it gets a 5 Speed manual gearbox. The car is loaded to the gills with features, even though it is not a top-spec Asta (O) variant. Some notable features include Auto-Dimming IRVM, Welcome Function, Fog Lamps and a Reverse Parking Camera with adaptive guidelines. Safety Features include ABS and 2 Airbags at the front (driver and co-driver). The brake setup is the usual disc and drum setup, a common in the segment. What must be mentioned though is good stopping power! The brake pedal does feel a bit spongy but the bite is just superb! Suspension setup is again, not something unseen in the segment, the usual McPherson Strut at the Front and Torsion Beam at the rear. The suspension is set up on a softer side and the ride quality is very good. Potholes and Bad Roads? No worries, the splendid suspension setup quality ensures a composed ride. What robs away the comfort is the bounciness, which you feel while riding over expansion joints on the flyovers. Apart from that, the overall ride quality is very comfy.
Coming to the Exteriors, it looks more European than Korean! The long hood, short overhangs and big doors lend it a very sporty look, and in darker shades like Stardust, Red and Black, the Elite I20 is a looker! The front bumper features a trapezoidal grille (now called cascading design grille) with chrome surrounds, which also houses the front Fog Lamps. The hood features two prominent bulge like creases, giving it a very muscular-yet-sporty look. Side profile too gets some character lines, and Fluidic 2.0 design language is immediately evident. The rear gets a very subtle spoiler, which houses the HMSL. The rear is clean, with large split type wraparound tail lights (NOT LED’s). Rear bumper houses the Number Plate housing and 4 parking sensors. The only grouse is the placement of the rear camera, which is placed in center on the boot, and honestly, looks like a sore thumb, but is something you will surely get used to. The rear bumper gets 2 reflectors, and a single reversing lamp (Hey, cost cutting!) The boot space is a generous 285 litres, enough for 2 big backpacks, or for the lack of a better word, for a weekend getaway for 2-3 people. Also, the spare tire is of the same size (More on that later).
Coming to the interiors, it is possibly the best part of the car. Doors open in a 3-stage action, large and wide. Getting inside is a breeze, thanks to wide opening doors, and not so wide door sill area. As soon as you get inside, the first thing you immediately notice is the brilliant quality! Honestly, this dashboard won’t look out of place in a car 2 segments above. The interiors are a blend of black and beige, with beige applied very tastefully. Infact, even the Creta gets a very similar dashboard layout. The ergonomics are spot on, with everything falling to hand. The quality of buttons on music/infotainment system and AC Controls reek of quality. Make no mistake, interior plastics are rock hard, no use of soft-touch plastics at all, but yet it’s the sheer quality that really impresses you. The steering is a 3 spoke unit, very similar to other Hyundai Cars, with Volume and Telephony Controls on the left and Track Seek/change and Odometer Controls on the right. The Instrument Console gets a host of tell-tale lights, with speedometer on the right and RPM Counter on the left. Between the two is a small display which gets a Digital Speedometer! It also gets digital Fuel and Engine Temperature gauges. What’s disappointing is absence of Distance to Empty, Fuel Economy and Instantaneous Fuel Economy in the MID, a feature which cars like Renault Kwid also get. The light and wiper stalks are of very good quality again, and kudos to Hyundai for this, because it’s things like these that make I20 a true premium hatchback. The glove box is cooled, and is of decent size, enough to keep documents and the car’s manual. The doorpads are large enough to keep 1 litre bottle and knick-knack. What’s interesting is that all 4 doors get this! Very practical! There is no dearth of cubbyholes, with 2 cup holders ahead of the handbrake, a generous space ahead of gear lever, where I generally place my Wallet and Mobile. The car also gets a fixed type front armrest, with good amount of storage underneath. The seats are very supportive, with good under thigh support. There is no dearth of shoulder room and head room either.
What’s surprising is the rear seat space, and it’s not surprising in a good way, unfortunately. Getting into the rear seat is fairly easy, but despite having the longest wheelbase, it is one area where I20 doesn’t excel. The rear seat space is good, but nowhere in the league of Baleno and Jazz, they are miles ahead. What makes matters worse is the placement of the rear AC vents, which protrude into the area where the middle passenger would place his legs. The floor is absolutely flat but still, the rear bench is suited for 2, and not 3 passengers. Even if you manage to squeeze the third passenger, you will earn an enemy for life. On the flipside, the rear bench is very comfortable, with good under-thigh support. What you will miss though are rear headrests, which were only available in the top-spec variant at that time. All in all, the cabin is a good place to be in, offering decent space and practicality. What must be mentioned is the performance of Air Conditioner. The car gets a 122cc Compressor, and chills the cabin in no time. The car is equipped with Automatic Climate Control, and even on hot summer afternoon’s, the cabin is a quiet and cool place to be in.
Other impressive thing is the infotainment system. Though not a touchscreen unit, it supports iPod, USB, AUX and Bluetooth Connectivity. The audio quality is pretty good for the segment. Output is via 4 speakers, one on each door and 4 tweeters.
As already mentioned above, the 1.2 litre motor produces 83 ps of power and 115 nm of torque. The engine is mated to a 5-Speed Manual Gearbox. As soon as you start the engine, the first thing you notice are the refinement levels. You can only make out that the engine is running through the RPM Counter. The refinement levels are top-notch with no vibrations whatsoever. Start driving the engine and short gearing of first gear is immediately felt. Low end is good, but surely not in the league of Maruti’s K12B Motor. It’s the third gear that is really tall. Engage third in 20 KMPH, and there will be a sort of head-nod, and it’ll probably take a couple of seconds for the engine to come into it’s own, and then afterwards, you can do speeds up to 90 KMPH! The strongest point of this motor is its mid-range. Below 2,000 RPM, the response is sluggish and you really have to work with the gears to get a go. It’s only after the 2,000 RPM, that the engine sort of wakes up and the progress from then till 5,000 RPM is very punchy. There is no top-end of the motor as such, but there is still some progress. City users will never complain about the engine, it’s out on the highway where the weak-spot of the I20 is immediately felt. Overtaking requires some planning and although it may look as if I am complaining a bit too much, the fact is, this is a commuter petrol engine, just like other cars in this segment, and it’s just not meant to be driven insanely on expressways. What’s kind of disappointing is the redline, which is marked at just 6,600 RPM, rather conservatively. Conservatively, because, when you rev the engine hard, you realise that there are still a couple of hundred RPM’s left to be exploited. What impresses one are the fairly good NVH levels, below 2,000 RPM, the car remains super-silent, and engine note starts to creep in from 2,200 RPM. 100 KPH in 5th gear is seen at slightly above 2,500 RPM, and 120 is seen at around 3,000 RPM, after which the engine sort of runs out of breath and you really have to floor the accelerator to get a go, but I must admit that the motor sounds extremely sporty, especially between 2,400 RPM and 5,000 RPM, even though one knows that it is nowhere close to being sporty. The motor’s note will surely please the enthusiasts. Apart from that, there is nothing sporty about the engine. Response on part-throttle is satisfactory, but when you floor the pedal, it’s not just the performance that disappoints you, the fuel-efficiency takes a hit as well. Expect anything between 10-13 KMPL in the city, and 15-16 out on the highways. The gearbox is very slick shifting with well defined gates. What lets it down is the long travel of the clutch, which surely takes some time getting used to. The brakes offer very good stopping power. The bite of the pedal is good and ABS does it’s job fairly well.
What lets the car down, or rather all the cars in the Hyundai portfolio is the feedback from the steering. The steering is feather light to operate, and offers decent feedback at lower speeds, but as the speeds increase, the steering just fails to weigh up well and the feedback you get is very artificial. It’s surely not an enthusiast’s car, it is a car which is massively popular in mass market, which is the very reason Hyundai stuck to this tuning of steering wheel. The car is not a corner craver, and feels slightly subdued around sharp corners. What's good though, is high speed stability, but the softer suspension surely doesn't inspire too much confidence, but that said, the car feels stable at legal triple digit speeds.
The car rides on 14” wheels and they offer decent amount of grip. Tires are from Bridgestone and are regular steel wheels with wheel caps.
Living with the Car
The car has been with us for more than 2 years and has clocked close to 20k kms. The car is not used regularly, since my father drives a Ciaz Diesel and I use it very sparsely, for occasional office commutes and weekend outings with my friends. We have also done some roadtrips in the car, most notable one being to Manali, which we took last year. The car delivered a combined efficiency of around 14 KMPL, which was pretty good considering that more than 600 KM’s of the journey involved driving in hilly terrain. The service costs have been nominal, and quality of service so far has been quite good. Infact the quality of service has been better than Maruti Suzuki’s, according to my father, who is always whining and complaining about Maruti’s lacklustre service quality. It’s purely personal and co-incidental, because generally, it’s the other way round. The car’s mileage, somehow hasn’t been constant, with the car delivering a mileage of anything between 10-13 KMPL, depending on traffic and driving style. Overall, efficiency is not the forte of this car, and the car shines in some areas, where it’s competitors cannot hold a candle against I20.
1) Looks! Although personal and subjective, the car is a looker!
2) Interiors. Simply the best in the segment
3) Superb suspension setup and features. The car is just loaded with features
4) Build Quality. Though not in league of Germans, but surely better than Baleno and Jazz
5) Fuss free ownership experience
1) Petrol engine is not an all-rounder, unlike it’s diesel counterpart
2) Not as dynamically accomplished as say, Volkswagen’s Polo
3) Limited rear seat space
4) Fuel Efficiency. Though decent, nowhere close to being good
Now, I am not attaching photos, but I will surely post some of them very soon.