The new DS3, customise every feature to suit your style
Amazing what a difference a facelift can make. Last year Hyundai gave its rather anonymous-looking i20 a midlife makeover, with the focal point being a new face, and it suddenly looks so much crisper and more focused.
Sadly, the engine range got watered down in the name of affordability and efficiency, with the previous 1.6 petrol engine being canned and a new 1.2 joining the range.
Then, recently, a rather provocative launch invitation reached my inbox, inviting me to test drive a new i20 "with turbo-power."
Of course, that brief flash of excitement dissipated when I read the word turbodiesel in the following line, but let's not take away from how much sense this engine makes for those who do a lot of open-road cruising.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the new 1.4-litre CRDi motor pushes 66kW and 220Nm. Hyundai claims a combined fuel consumption figure of exactly five litres per 100km, which is not class-leading but very decent nonetheless. And unlike Hyundai's diesel SUVs, the i20's engine can run on 500ppm diesel-sludge.
At town-driving speeds, the CRDi is a bit laggy in the lower reaches of the rev range but out on the open road the CRDi is a real trooper, lugging along silently and economically at low revs and providing a decent kick when you need to overtake - providing you swop a few cogs.
Other than that, the i20 rides comfortably and takes corners neatly enough but, if I'm to nitpick, it's not as fun to drive as a Fiesta and the interior is not as elegantly designed or finished as the one you'll see inside a VW Polo.
So why buy the i20 then?
You'll appreciate the Hyundai if you want a car with all the bells and whistles. Hyundai says that, compared to the slightly cheaper (and less powerful) Polo 1.2 TDI, the i20 has around R12 000 worth of 'extra value'.
It's packed with comfort features like automatic climate control, automatic folding mirrors, rear park assist and a four-speaker Bluetooth-enabled USB/Aux/iPod sound system.
16-inch alloys add some dazzle to the exterior and a full complement of airbags (front, side and curtain) conspire to keep you safe in a crash. The cherry on top is the standard 2-year/30 000km service plan and five-year/150 000km warranty.
It's still an expensive offering though, with the 1.4 CRDi coming in at just under R195 900. Yet for that you are getting a practical, solid, comfortable and economical hatch that proves just how far the Koreans have come.
1.25 Motion - R144 900
1.4 Fluid - R169 900
1.4 Fluid AT - R179 900
1.4 Glide - R181 900
1.4 CRDi Glide - R195 900