The range of Hyundai i20 three and five door supermini sized hatchbacks offer a wide range of reasons-to-buy for most small car owners whether they have a family or empty-nesters or indeed singles.
The reasons-to-buy are numerous - very competitive purchase price, high value specification, long five year unlimited mileage warranty, designed and tested in Europe are all notable but the real-life fuel economy is probably the 'headline' reason-to-buy for me.
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The i20 hatchbacks are offered with 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol and 1.4 CRDi diesel engines and available with three levels of trim and specification, Classic, the best selling Comfort and Style.
Prices range from a headline grabbing £9,745 and rise to a still competitive £13,745 for the top spec with the diesel engine - not the best choice model for most buyers unless it is a high mileage company car user.
My test model was probably one of the best selling models, the 1.2 Comfort three door costing £10,595 but I would happily spend the extra £500 and buy the five door version of this model.
Having the extra doors just makes life easier if you carry passengers or even for just putting coats and bags on the rear seats. Three door hatchbacks might look sportier but in real-life five doors are best for all-round use I find.
Engine and performance
Before I delve into what a good buy this i20 really is let me just explain my headline good news about this car. The real-life fuel economy, officially this 1.2-litre, four cylinder Kappa petrol engine with a modest 77bhp power output and 87lb ft of torque looks no more than ok on paper.
But the official Combined Cycle fuel economy is a really impressive 55.4mpg and my test car returned 51.8mpg. That is really excellent for a petrol engine and just shows us how well developed new generation petrol engines are.
This was no pussyfoot driving either. Around 300 miles at maximum legal speed on motorways with another 200 or so miles on country A and B roads plus another 100 miles in stop and start commuter driving. I was really impressed and I will now recommend this i20 on the strength of that fuel economy.
The CO2 emissions are low as well at just 119g/km so VED road tax in the first year of ownership is £0 and only £30 per annum for the second year onwards and for company car drivers the Benefit-in-Kind tax is only 10 per cent.
That is as good as most small diesel engines but without the extra £1,100 a diesel engine generally costs over a petrol unit in small to medium sized cars. Even the low Group 8 insurance rating is not going to cost even the youngest owner a fortune.
The acceleration, flexibility of power delivery and outright top speed are not as headline-grabbing but the i20 1.2-litre is definitely not sluggish.
Top speed is 106mph but that is of no relevance and the zero to 62mph acceleration time is 12.9 seconds, more than enough for most drivers.
Even driving up steep hills didn't cause real problems but overtaking slower traffic on busy A roads needed some planning and swift gearchanges.
The petrol engine revs very freely so under hard overtaking acceleration it was very easy to hit the rev-limiter but the five-speed gearbox was slick and precise. A six speed unit would make cruising at higher speeds a little more relaxed engine noise wise.
For customers wanting an automatic transmission then that is a £1,045 option but sensibly only mated with the 1.4-litre petrol engine, which still doesn't cost the earth to buy or run.
Driving the i20
The ride comfort and road holding, despite the European design and application, are not the i20's strongest features being no more than acceptable.
There is body-roll during cornering, the suspension cannot absorb the potholes thumps and bumps with ease and the road noise intrusion is quite high. But none of these more negative comments would put me off buying one.
The styling doesn't allow the Hyundai i20 to stand out in a crowded car park as it is somewhat mundane and conservative, it is not off-putting but it isn't the strongest reason to buy this car.
However the specification is just the opposite and first class for the money. Standard equipment for the best selling Comfort level includes air conditioning, ESP electronic stability control, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, 15-inch alloy road wheels and the five year warranty of course.
Rounding off the standard spec is glove box cooling, steering wheel audio controls, trip and mpg readout computer, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, a good sound system with Aux-in, full USB and iPod compatibility, active front head restraints and a comprehensive array of airbags.
This is so much car for the money and with good real-life fuel economy during my test that I have to say in all honesty this i20 is an impressive ownership proposition for many would-be supermini buyers.
Hyundai i20 MILESTONES
Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort 3-Door
Engine/transmission: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC, 77bhp, 87lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm, 5-speed manual
Performance: 106mph, 0-62mph 12.9 seconds, 55.4mpg in the Combined Cycle (51.8mpg on test), CO2 119g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 per annum second year onwards, BIK company car tax 10%
Insurance group: 8E
Dimensions: L 3,9400mm, W 1,700mm, H 1,490mm, boot-load space 295-1,060kg
For: Real life fuel economy, low road tax and insurance costs, very attractive pricing, long warranty, high level of specification - a lot of car for the money
Against: Functional rather than fun to drive, conservative exterior styling, bland interior, high road noise intrusion, indifferent but still capable handling