The hatchback-based crossover segment is slowly metamorphosing and the recent launches in this division imply the immense potential it has. Hyundai i20 Active is the Korean car maker’s first hatchback-based crossover for the Indian market, which is conceived based on the company’s immensely popular premium hatchback, i20.While it retains the DNA that i20 embodies, tweaks made are confined to cosmetic changes on the outside, minor interior revisions (excluding the equipment list) and insignificant mechanical updates. Exterior styling additions include matte grey cladding on the base of the car, faux skid plates, roof rails, redesigned alloy wheels, reworked bumpers in front/rear/ round fog lights, projector head lights with DRLs/cornering lights, new fuel filler lid and glossy black C-pillar. Cabin features a blue/black dual-tone interior scheme for light exterior shades and an all-black colour scheme for darker exterior shades. Safety features have been carried forward as it is from the regular i20. The crossover’s range includes two petrol and three diesel variants. Engine configuration comprises the same 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine along with the 1.4-litre CRDi diesel motor powering the standard i20. Ground clearance has been raised by 20 mm to 190 mm and minor gearing changes (6% for petrol and 11% for diesel variants) have also been bestowed for improved bottom-end responses.
EXTERIOR AND STYLE
There are quite a few changes in the Hyundai i20 Active. Out goes the trapezoidal fog lamp design and in come rounded ones with cornering function. This is a steering wheel based function so when you turn right the right driving lamp lights up, similarly the left one lights up when you turn left (this is activated only when you switch on the headlamps). Hyundai have inverted the i20’s grille on the Active with a chunky lower bumper protruding into the grille. There are LED daytime running lamps along with the projectors. Hyundai has given the i20 Active new colour schemes (like the brown from the spy shots we posted earlier) to differentiate it from the Elite i20. The changes have been done up in a subtle manner and we feel that the i20 is one of the best ‘cross’ vehicles out there in the market. There are satin-finish roof rails, however we would have preferred them to be in body colour. The alloys have a new design too, but look largely similar to the ones on the Elite i20. The fuel lid is also done in a satin finish. Typical to its cross-styled rivals, the i20 Active too gets matte black cladding that underscores the bumpers and the side skirts. There are changes to the rear as well and these include the faux aluminium skid plate and round reflectors.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT
Not much has changed on the inside. The design elements continue unchanged on the i20 Active when compared to the Elite i20. So, one gets the same dash, the same instrumentation and similar quality as the Polo challenger. And that’s not a bad thing because the Elite i20 is already top of the class when it comes to interiors; be it the feeling of space, the numerous stowage spaces, seating comfort or even space for that matter, the Elite i20 leads the pack.The equipment list is equally exhaustive. One gets everything from the top of the line Elite i20 on this, the i20 Active SX. So there’s keyless entry and start, a multifunctional steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a stereo with 1 GB internal memory, digital climate control and a reversing camera. It also gets automatic lights, ABS and air bags. Additionally, the i20 Active gets cornering lights and aluminium pedals. Yes, we know the latter doesn’t really add to the driving experience in any way, but we like it for it looks cool.What’s not so cool, is the use of blue on the dashboard, the doors and the seats. It just takes away from that plush feeling the Elite i20 is known for. Now this ‘blue’ is exclusive to the silver car. If you do however choose the brown or the red, all you get is matte orange outlines and inserts for the aircon vents, stereo, seats and the gear-lever. To be honest, we would have preferred an all black interior but if we had to choose between the two existing options – and this reads strange to me even as I write it – we’d settle for the orange.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX
The Hyundai i20 Active gets two engine options, first is a 1.2-litre petrol and second is the 1.4-litre U2 diesel. First is the petrol engine. This engine also powers the i20, and it produces 81bhp and 114Nm of torque. The engine is extremely quiet and there isn’t much vibrations. The engine does pull well but only at high-rpm, which means you need go up to 3,500rpm every time you drive in traffic. You need to alter a bit of your driving style, else get used to shifting gears much often to move fast, especially in traffic. For relaxed driving, this engine power is sufficient. For that quick overtake you need to downshift, be it in city or on an open road.
The diesel engine is a 1.4-litre that produces a good power of 90bhp and 220Nm. One thing that has impressed be about this engine is its quietness and the vibrations that are minimal, despite being a diesel. The output on paper is decent, but in reality it is linear increase and there is sufficient power to pull at low engine speeds. The final drive of the i20 Active has been shortened when compared to the Elite i20, making it extremely easy to drive. This makes it effort less as one doesn’t really have to shift gears often in city traffic. Even for overtaking most of the times there is sufficient power to pull. This comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission that is again easy to shift. The diesel gave us a mileage of 16km/l in the city under normal driving conditions and 20km/l on the highway.The five-speed manual gear levers are easy to shift and do not feel rubbery. Even the throws of the gear lever are short and easier to change. In city, the petrol will return about a fuel efficiency of 13.8km/l under normal driving.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The i20 Active gets a revised suspension setup while towards the front it has been fitted with McPherson strut with coil spring towards the front while the rear gets coupled torsion beam axle with coil spring, gas type shock absorbers which will really effective for bad roads plus it definitely gains its advantage from the enhanced ground clearance of 190 mm.
In terms of occupant protection, the i20 Active is very well equipped. The top-end variant gets six airbags, ABS, reverse parking sensors and camera. The centre infotainment screen on the top end variant doubles up as the display of the reversing camera while the mid S variant, the rear view mirror does the same. The overall build of the car also feels strong and confidence inspiring.
As far as cross hatchbacks go, then, this is a great example – not over-styled, but just distinctive enough to stand out from the thousands of i20s that already ply our streets. It has all of Hyundai’s core strengths – equipment, styling and ease of use, but also suffers from its usual weaknesses – primarily an unengaging driving experience. Its use of funky interior colours is a bit adventurous, but we think it works in a more ‘lifestyle-oriented’ vehicle like this.
We have to say, however, that its biggest strength comes from the fact that its donor car – the i20 – is such a capable product, and less so from the rugged styling add-ons that the Active brings with it. For most, we still think the i20 hatchback will be more than car enough, but for those who want something more distinctive, the i20 Active is clearly one of the best cars of its kind. However, at a price that’s around Rs 90,000 more than the equivalent i20, this top-end SX trim bears a heavy premium, so you will have to shell out a lot to stand out from the crowd.
Hyundai I20 Active Ex Showroom Price in Bangalore ranges from 6,72,166/- (i20 Active 1.2 Base) to 9,95,078/- (i20 Active 1.4 SX AVN).Hyundai I20 Active has 6 Variants of Petrol are available in India. Hyundai I20 Active comes in 5 colours, namely Red Passion,Polar White,Earth Brown,Sleek Silver,Phantom Black.