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HYUNDAI i20 ACTIVE: A Cross Above

The Hyundai i20 is amongst the most popular hatchbacks in Nepal. It helped the Korean giant gain a stupendous portion of the market share back in 2009 and it is still one of the most loved cars in Nepal. For a considerable amount of time, the i20 badge dominated and defined the premium hatchback segment. Now the second gen i20 Elite is all set to hit the market and chances are they’re already making the news by the time you’re reading this.

What we have here is Hyundai’s swing at the oh-so-popular “cross hatch” segment with the vamped version of the Elite i20. Most crossovers follow the same formula of smacking on a few external claddings to give the hatchback a sporty appeal which qualifies it to enter the aspirant-SUV segment. But the hatchback in context here is amongst the cream of the crop, in terms of its potential market share at least. And Hyundai promises that it’s not just the cosmetic add-ons that make the i20 Active a strong contender. We’d take their word for it but then that’d mean we’d be passing our chance at test driving the new entrant, and that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.1

EXTERIOR

As with all other crossovers, the Hyundai i20 Active builds on the Elite i20 with a number of aesthetic additions. Up front inverted air dams (compared to the elite i20), fog lights and a fake bull bar with skid plates make up the bumper. The Active also gets projector headlights with integrated silver strips and cornering lamps that are angled and activate when you make turns at night. The daylight running lights helps with the whole sporty premium feel the crossover seems to be aiming for. The bonnet also has body creases that start that give the front end some extra oomph.3On the sides and along the body you will notice thick black cladding that decorates the base of the Active i20. There are matte finish roof rails which also add to the adventure ready persona that Hyundai have aimed for. 16 inch diamond cut alloys are what this bad boy rolls on and they look splendid. The Active also gets Projector Headlights with integrated silver strips and cornering lamps that are angled and activate when you make turns at night. 4The rear holds up its end of the deal and helps round off the look of the Active i20 in style. It gets new rear bumpers with a faux skid plate and round reflectors. The 3-cluster wraparound tail-lamps appear to be LEDs, but actually aren’t. Its dark C pillar morphs seamlessly into the rear with an edgy roof spoiler to boot.

We’re not sure how well the skid plates will do to protect the car, but the increased ground clearance should definitely do its job.

INTERIOR

Once again, the people at Hyundai have loaded their products with a plethora of features, well at least the top end variant (SX) that we were driving. The aqua blue color scheme on the dash, door pads and seat upholstery didn’t exactly tickle our fancy but there are a lot of other things that will take your mind right off of that.23It has the same premium steering wheel that lets you control the audio, phone via a total of 9 buttons (including a useful one for ‘mute’). The MID offers a wide range of data, including dual trip meters, digital speedometer, service interval and a drive summary (distance covered, average speed, driving time). The MID will also warn you if you have parked with your front wheels turned.

You also get push-button start, keyless entry, reverse camera and sensors, an 8-speaker audio system with 1GB memory, USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity and climate control. To add to the details, you will also get aluminum coated pedals which we personally loved.

The front seats provide excellent lateral support, under-thigh support is adequate. Cabin space is very good for the front and rear inhabitants and will comfortably host those on the big boned spectrum of the scale.

PERFORMANCE (1.4 L DIESEL)

We had a go in the diesel variant that had under its hood a four cylinder 1.4L CRDI motor which pumps out a healthy 89bhp and 220Nm of torque. Press the clutch pedal and tap that engine start button and the engine will instantly come to life. With minimum turbo-lag, the Active gives great driving satisfaction. Drivability is splendid in the traffic as well as open roads, although you have to downshift at times to get up steep climbs. However, in the cities and highways the 1,4L engine is brisk and up to the task. Its power won’t have you plastered to the back of your seat but it will keep things interesting. Engineers have altered the gear ratios to give the Active better lower end torque.6On the highways, the 6th gear will provide great cruising capabilities if you find long enough stretches. The engine is very well refined which is noticeable once you get the car rolling. Gear shifts are smooth and seamless. The ground clearance increase hasn’t affected the driving quality at all. The suspensions quietly do their job and provide a very stable drive even over rough roads. This improvement alone helps give the crossover some actual functionality points over the hatchback. Although the Active might handle some mild off roads, we wouldn’t advise serious off-roading on it. Handling is light and brisk, and our team’s opinions varied on this aspect.

PERFORMANCE (1.2 L PETROL)

After taking the diesel for a spin, we also got a chance to take its differently fueled sibling for a drive. Al­though the diesel variant is the more popular amongst the two, the 1.2 liter petrol did not disappoint. The 1.2L Dual VTVT Kappa petrol motor produces 82 BHP @ 6000 rpm and 115 Nm of torque @ 4000 rpm.8

It does a great job of getting you from one place to an­other without any fuss. A great urban commuter that has great drivability, 1.2 liter performs best at 3000- 5000rpm range. Jogging up inclines isn’t too much of a hassle, unless you’re carrying a few passengers in which case you might need to work the engine a tad bit. But for a relaxed drive in the highways or a com­mute within the city, it does a great job.

VERDICT

The Hyundai i20 Active goes a step further from the regular recipe of adding cosmetic additions to a hatchback and calling it a crossover. Increased ground clearance and better suspension make the Active more adventure and sport inclined. An already successful platform of the Elite i20 give the Active a strong base and Hyundai have capitalized on it by creating a very good looking car with a certain degree of improved functionality. And as always the Korean manufacturer have not skimped on the feature list either.7Keep in mind that this particular segment is rife with competition with each contender biting at the other’s heels. Already existing rivals have taken up a portion of the market and incoming competition have also brought their A game. Because everyone is on point, price will also be a major factor when it comes to making decisions. Nevertheless, the Hyundai i20 Active ticks all the boxes to make it a very good adventure ready crossover which gives it good grounds to be considered a serious contender.

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