Hyundai’s i20 Ultimate is striking and fun

A NEW ritual of pre-drive checks now dominate my test drives and safety-conscious Hyundai is among its founding fathers.
Hyundai i20Hyundai i20
Hyundai i20

The i20 Ultimate tested here may be at the core of the supermini sector – following the demise of Ford’s Fiesta – but it packs a premium level of safety kit.

Consequently, every journey started with a delve into the 10.25-inch infotainment system’s ‘settings’ menus to deactivate incessant speed alerts and rather unerring lane centring assistance.

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Such systems are central to a new generation of driving safety, but can also prove a distraction and are certainly a barrier to enjoyment.

With your choice of systems subdued, the i20 is an entertaining steer. We were previously blown away by the tenacious i20 N hot hatch and degrees of its agility were present in the £25,320 Ultimate.

Cue a little disappointment that our test car came with Hyundai’s seven-speed DCT gearbox, robbing me of the added engagement of a manual.

The self-shifter does a good job, though. Pootle along and it short shifts rapidly as it targets 52.3mpg fuel economy and 122g/km CO2 emissions claims from the 100PS one-litre turbocharged engine.

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Ask for more and it shifts rapidly. Hyundai claims a rather conservative 11.4 second dash to 62mph, though.

The Ultimate trim’s highlights feature more than just safety kit.

Its aggressive, nose down stance is complemented by striking 17-inch alloys and a ‘shark fin’ roof antenna.

Inside, a grille intersects a dashboard topped by an infotainment system and colour instrument binnacle.

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There is a reversing camera, wireless smartphone charging and an impressive Bose sound system.

Supportive cloth seats accompany the sculpted steering wheel in being both heated and neatly stitched in vibrant yellow.

Cabin space is impressive space too, a 352-litre boot bettering the 286 and 391 of Toyota’s Yaris and Renault’s Clio.

The i20 does suffer a notable economy shortfall over these two hybrid-powered rivals, though – each claiming well over 60mpg.

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Striking and fun, Hyundai’s i20 Ultimate proves the supermini class will rival far more expensive metal from a technology point-of-view.

But, like so many modern cars, that makes it rather somewhat overbearing from a safety technology perspective.