This week we’ve had the Hyundai i20 Coupe in for review in Sport Nav trim and with the 3-cylinder 1.0 litre 120PS T-GDI Engine, Hyundai’s sportiest i20 Coupe.
When Hyundai revealed the new i20 at the Paris Motor Show in 2014, they promised it would be followed by a three-door i20 coupe, and we expected that wouldn’t amount to much more than a three-door take on the i20 hatch.
But when the Hyundai i20 Coupe did arrive for the UK a few months later it was actually a proper three-door coupe version of the five-door i20 hatch, with an almost all new body with more steeply raked pillars, new bumpers, new lights and a new grille, but thanks to the underpinnings of the i20 hatch it still offered plenty of room for passengers and stuff.
The i20 Coupe deserved to succeed just for offering a real rarity in a market segment where almost every other car maker has given up on three doors coupes, preferring practicality over style rather than appealing to a younger market looking for something a bit different.
So the i20 Coupe offered plenty of promise when it arrived, but it didn’t come with anything you could really call an interesting engine option until this i20 arrived – the i20 Coupe 1.0 T-GDI – with the choice of 10oPS or 120PS (that’s 99bhp or 118bhp in old money) from a three-cylinder engine promising good economy and lively performance (well, relative to the sector norms).
To find out if the i20 Coupe with the 120PS engine is a good option, Hyundai has sent us the i20 Coupe 1.0 T-GDI, in range-topping Sport Nav trim, to review and road test.
Hyundai i20 Coupe – Inside & Out
The i20 Coupe is a much better looking car than its five-door i20 sibling, and although it’s more of a sleek three-door hatch than a real no compromise coupe, it is properly decent looking.
The big grill and statement headlights at the front, a lower stance thanks to lower suspension, some impressive character lines on the flanks that look good and make the i20 Coupe look like it has big wheel arches, a ‘floating’ roof thanks to strategically placed bits of black trim, new bumpers and a tailgate spoiler all work together to present a very pleasing sporty look with the promise of a bit of fun.
But just like the Tucson we reviewed recently, the interior is rather less appealing than the exterior.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it – either in terms of looks or quality – it just lacks some of the panache Hyundai has managed to inject in to the exterior design.
That said, it feels robust and well bolted together, the plastics you touch feel fine to the touch and, in this i20 Coupe Sport Nav trim, there are plenty of toys thrown in.
The toys include the sort of stuff you’d normally expect in a high-end spec, like auto lights and wipers, Climate, Privacy Glass, Cruise and DAB, but Hyundai has also managed to include stuff you might normally expect to pay more for like the Sat Nav, and Reversing Camera.
It’s a comprehensive spec that justifies the £16,200 price tag (a few hundred pounds more than the equivalent Fiesta Titanium, but a chunk less than the Titanium X) and means you really won’t be looking to spend more.
Not only is the i20 Coupe better looking than the i20 Hatch, its looks don’t compromise space, with room in the back for two proper six-footers (as long as they can negotiate getting in) and boot space – 311 litres seats up, 1,011 seats down – is remarkably good.
Hyundai i20 Coupe – Performance and on the road
It’s not long since the idea of a three-cylinder engine under the bonnet of any car being considered even remotely sporty was anathema, but Ford’s little EcoBoost 1.0 litre and Peugeot’s 1.2 litre three-pot have been busy proving that’s no longer the case.
Fortunately, you can also add to that list this cracking little three-pot from Hyundai, good here for 118bhp and a 0-62mph in just over 10 seconds, a figure which doesn’t to justice to how it feels to drive.
Yes, you need to keep the revs up to make the most of the three-pot, but if you do you could be forgiven for thinking it was a much bigger naturally-aspirated engine, with a nice fruity exhaust note and lots of encouragement to push on.
The gearbox is a decent one too – which encourages you to stir it to keep in the right rev band – and although there’s nothing cutting edge about the handling, it feels safe and nailed down unless you’re really stupid, offering enough to encourage brisk country road fun, compliant enough (most of the time) to be pleasant on urban roads and capable of sitting at motorway limits all day without complaining.
In fact, the i20 Coupe, with this engine, is a properly fun little hatch.
Hyundai i20 Coupe – Verdict
We’e not entirely sure Hyundai set out to make the i20 Coupe a properly fun, sporty three-door hatch, but putting the very good 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine under the bonnet has certainly made it in to one.
Is the engine as good as Ford’s EcoBoost in the Fiesta? Well, probably not, although it’s a very close run thing, and the i20 Coupe drives and handles well, certainly well enough to be competent when you need it and fun when you want.
Hyundai’s may no longer be as cheap as chips, but that’s because they now stand toe to toe with the best the mainstream offers, and although you may baulk a bit at a price that’s more than a comparable Fiesta Titanium, the long and thorough spec sheet still makes the Hyundai a bargain.
As for running costs, in truth we only got 34.8mpg in the week and a chunk of miles we had it, but that’s because the car encouraged us to drive it hard (honest, we had to), but when we didn’t it was civilised and accommodating and, driven as most owners would, more like 40mpg would seem a reasonable average.
Throw in the long spec sheet, bullet-proof five-year warranty and decent looks, and the i20 Coupe is a very appealing, value for money, fun to drive little car.
Hyundai i20 Coupe 1.0 T-GDI Sport Nav Review Quick Tech Specs
- Engine: 998cc, 118bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 10.2 seconds / Top Speed 118mph
- Economy: 58.9mpg – Official / 34.8mpg – Test
- Emissions: 112g/km
- Price: £16,200 / Price as tested £16,750
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK