Hyundai turns up the appeal with small MPV

There was a time when Korean cars felt a little out of place on European roads. The styling was often a bit gawky. The interiors looked like they had been designed by the producer of a budget-priced hi-fi and just to make sure you felt ill at ease, the indicators were on the wrong side.

These days are firmly behind us. Hyundai is learning from the Japanese. If you want to produce a car that appeals in Europe, you have to come to Europe. The Hyundai ix20, launched in November last year, was designed and developed in Europe. it is also manufactured in Europe, in a factory in the Czech Republic

Hyundai ix20

Hyundai say their aim with the ix20 was to produce a car “with the style of a supermini, the space of an estate car and the economy of a city car”. A bold aim, indeed.

I would give it the nod on style. The ix20 does have the looks of a modern supermini. indeed it looks like it has been designed using quite a few of today’s superminis as inspiration! To my eye the result looks a tad derivative with a definite nod to the Ford Fiesta in the resulting package.

Space of an estate car? Well, passengers are well catered for and I even found sufficient space to tuck my knees behind all but the furthest back settings of driver’s seats.

The boot space was initially surprising. When you first open the hatch, the boot floor seems rather high. But, further examination reveals that there is quite a bit of concealed space under the removable boot floor. With the rear seats unfolded, the load area will swallow 440 litres of luggage.

Hyundai ix20 interior

The economy of a city car? I suppose that depends on the city car. My test car was the Hyundai ix20 CRDI which, as the D suggests, is the diesel version. In this form, the ix20 boasts a combined fuel consumption of 65.7 mpg, with the trip computer telling me my real-time economy was hovering around the mid 40s.

The 1.4-litre diesel produces 89bhp which propels the ix20 CRDI to 62 mph in a rather leisurely 14.5-seconds. Carbon dioxide emissions are good, but not outstanding at 114 g/km. As a result the ix20 CRDI fits into band C for UK car tax.

The diesel does come with the downside of a rather dull and intrusive soundtrack. That, plus the rather dull performance, leads me to think the petrol versions might be a better bet.

In the style of many modern superminis, you sit quite tall in the ix20. Manufacturers have found that this is the best way to package maximum passenger and load space in a short vehicle. Even so, there is ample headroom.

Visibility from this commanding driving position is quite good in most directions. However, the double front pillars do make for quite noticeable blind spots.

Hyundai ix20

One minor, but annoying, issue had with the test car was the standard-fit air conditioning. On this car it took a long time to produce cool air and even then it was not that cool. In a car that has been sitting in the sun, that was frustrating.

The Hyundai ix20 CRDI comes in three different trim levels – Classic, Active and Style – starting at £13,445 and rising to £15,445. Considering how well-equipped it is and factoring in the five-year warranty, it’s a package that will undoubtedly appeal (possibly with the presumably livelier and quieter petrol engine) to Hyundai’s identified target audience – young families.
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