We take a closer look at the Hyundai i20’s Indian journey spanning over 12 years and 3 generations and how every transition of the premium hatchback manages to strike a chord with the market.
First gen- A unique approach
The Hyundai i20 was one of the first premium hatchbacks to hit the country even when the particular segment was not so trendy. The i20 was initially designed to let Hyundai capture the European subcompact B segment which was quite competitive back then, but surprisingly, the hatchback did win hearts in India too.
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The Hyundai i20 was designed in Germany and adopted the Korean automaker’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language and featured styling and architecture which was quite ahead of the curve in India. Compared to the hatchbacks now, the first-gen i20 was quite boxy and with generous spacing for passengers.
Ranging between Rs 4.81 lakh – Rs 7.53 lakh (last recorded price), the i20 came with both petrol and diesel options. The 1.4-litre Gamma petrol engine offered 100 PS of power and 139 Nm of torque and the 1.2-litre Kappa diesel engine offered 80 PS of power and 114 Nm of torque. The engines were mated to a 4-speed AT or 6-speed MT. The hatchback had a good run with one facelift down the line until it phased out in 2015.
Second gen- A bolder approach
The second-gen of the hatchback entered the Indian market as the Hyundai Elite i20 in 2014. The Elite i20 took on the mantle quite gracefully. Designed in Germany, this car adopted the ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’ design language. The Elite i20 had an enhanced appeal inside-out and boasted better safety features to woo the audience.
Apart from the good passenger space, the Elite i20 also sported a black and beige dual-tone dashboard, steering mounted controls, Bluetooth integrated audio with USB and AUX and 1 GB internal storage at a time when the Indian audience was not used to the pampering in terms of the features offered.
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The Elite i20 offered 3 engines across its span of 6 years. The 1.2-litre petrol engine offered 83 PS of power and 115 Nm of torque and was paired with a 5-speed MT. The 1.4-litre petrol engine offered 100 PS of power with 132 Nm of torque and was paired with 4-speed AT. The 1.4-litre diesel engine offered 90 PS of power and 220 Nm of torque and was paired with a 6-speed MT. Ranging between Rs 6.57 lakh-Rs 8.33 lakh (ex-showroom), the premium hatchback had quite a decent run until it was silently bid farewell by Hyundai to make way for the all-new i20.
Third gen- Keeping up with the times
The 3rd-gen Hyundai i20 is definitely the best version of the hatchback brand India will get to see but it would be unjust to call it a breakthrough in the segment like its predecessors were. It is safe to say that the Korean automaker is a little late to join the party where the competition between the premium hatchbacks is turning fiercer every day.
The all-new i20 adopts a whole new ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language by the automaker and totally discards the boxy appearance of its predecessors. The new avatar looks quite aerodynamic and features much sleeker details. The sharp headlamps with DRLs and the LED foglamps give the hatchback an aggressive character. The elevated hood with strong character lines and the black accents on the front grille give the car a slightly muscular look.
On the inside, the hatchback looks even more appealing with neon accents and the large touchscreen display. If we were to go by the concept images, the interior looks quite spacious as well, sticking to the originality of the i20 brand. The hatchback is also set to boast the 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel and the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engines under the hood, offering as many options as possible.
Expected to boast a price tag ranging between Rs 5.7 lakh – Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom), the hatchback will take on the likes of Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Tata Altroz, and the Toyota Glanza upon its arrival on November 5.
The 3rd-gen Hyundai i20, although a little late, has all the qualities to become a trendsetter and carry on the legacy of the brand. With 3 engine options, new Bluelink connected features, Hyundai’s SmartSense features and sharp looks, the i20 will be a tough competitor to take on in the segment. The question that needs to be asked is how will the Indian market receive this premium hatchback, especially where offerings like Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS and Fiat Punto Abarth faded away with time even after being ahead of the curve.
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