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Hyundai i20


Hyundai's i20 was just about perfect in the UK, where I sampled it. It's small - parking spaces are rare. It's got an impressively tight turning circle - the roads are narrow...

It's perky - there are gaps to dart into, and short stretches of rural swervery to enjoy. The engine's got enough pep for open roads - which we were grateful for on motorway legs. And it was sufficiently roomy to carry our three-adult-and-picnic load. The 295-litre boot's surprisingly wide, too; we took kites and a model plane out one day.

It comes as no surprise, then, to discover the i20 is longer, lower and broader than the Getz it replaces, with an extended wheelbase for the all-new platform.

The skin's new-gen Hyundai in the smart i30 mould, so very Euro in looks and focus. I especially liked the bright red cabin trim accents for our lolly-red test car.

This was a 73kW/137Nm 1.4-litre petrol auto in Comfort spec, an engine-transmission-features combo we'll see here when the model arrives by year-end. Hyundai NZ is already trialling a 1.4-litre diesel, and promises five-door cars with fuel-frugal engines and auto transmissions.

The diesel is no doubt less thirsty than this 1.4. Admittedly I was hardly driving for economy, almost always had three aboard and took in some very varied routes with little highway, resulting in a 7.8l/100km thirst. That's a lot more than the brand's 6.1l/100km claim.

Still, the payback is the eagerness with which the little engine pulls. It could do with an extra cog - which would improve thirst, too - but it scampered along keenly enough, and handled well enough, to impress my car-mad rellies.

They're of average height, though. Try beanstalk teens in the back and you'll need a bigger rear seat.

If you need a larger boot, the second row seats fold to liberate 1060 litres, albeit with a stepped boot floor.

As for extras, the car's well kitted out. Ergonomics were excellent, and the seats comfy for hours at a time. Our car had ABS brakes, stability control and six airbags - all standard Hyundai NZ fare - plus 15-inch alloy wheels, a CD and aux/USB port, a multi-function trip, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and even a cooled glovebox. Naturally NZ cars will get the safety pack that's also standard here in Gods-own.

Overall the i20 is more refined, larger and better-designed than the sweet-handling but ageing Getz. The only criticism to surface was that ride was a touch firm for the rear-seat passenger.

Hyundai's i30 proved the brand has matured into a true competitor for the mainstream Japanese brands, and i20 confirms the impression. We look forward to trying it on NZ roads - and discovering its price, likely to start over Getz, which may initially remain on sale as a fleet-friendly price-leader.

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