If there is a niche to be filled, in between segments, trust Hyundai to fill it faster than any one else. So, it’s a little surprising that the company took so long to be in the hatchback crossover segment. But the company wanted to make sure that they had the best product in a competitive segment.
And from the looks of it the Active i20 has been well worth the wait. This car is essentially meant for those customers who love the practicality and easy-to-drive nature of the Elite i20 but want the road presence and styling of a compact SUV. It’s a party trick VW, Toyota and Fiat have tried before.
As you can see from the pictures here, the Active gets a more dramatic face from the Elite. It essentially looks like the Elite i20 has been to the gym and taken plenty of protein shakes. But when the effects are so good, who is complaining. The headlamps are all new and now also get LED daytime running lights along with projector beams and even cornering lights. You also get a faux scruff plate, neatly integrated into the bottom half of the front bumper. The rear gets a new bumper as well, which is very nicely sculpted to integrate lamps in it. There is also matt black plastic cladding around the sides of the car. The obligatory roof rails complete the butch styling. The side profile is compete with a new set of alloy wheels, which gives the car plenty of character along with the extra 20mm ride height.
Hyundai has done away with beige and brown combo from the Elite and given the Active all black upholstery. This gives it a sporty and young look. To liven things further there are dashes of blue on silver and white cars, while the other colours get orange on the seats, dashboard as well as gear lever knob. Quality levels are upto usual Hyundai standards. The seats offer plenty of comfort as well. For rear passengers there are AC vents, which have a decent throw of air. Just like the Elite i20 even the Active gets a cooled glovebox for added convenience. The boot at 285-litres of space offers generous capacity as well.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You get the same set of petrol and diesel engines. The petrol 1.2-litre unit develops around 83bhp while the diesel develops around 89bhp. Both engines are supreme on refinement and even when you rev hard, the cabin remains a calm place to be in. The diesel is the pick of the two units, delivering a good mix of performance and efficiency. Performance is stellar once you push the motor beyond 2,000 rpm. The light clutch, accurate gearbox and sprightly engine really make the Active a joy to motor around town. Another advantage that the Active diesel has over other rivals is the fact that it comes with a six speed gearbox (the other rivals only have five). This gives the engine greater flexibility when you are cruising on the highway.
Ride and handling
The Active rides 20mm higher than the regular i20 and Hyundai engineers seem to have stiffened up the suspension a bit as well. What that means is that the car feels better planted at faster speeds. But even with the (slightly) stiffened suspension, even when you are pottering around town on bad surfaces the Active soaks up the bumps pretty well. Though the i20 was never really a keen driver’s car, Hyundai engineers have done a good job with body lean, which is well under control for a car that has a ground clearance of 190mm.
Safety and equipment
?Hyundai is known to load up their cars with the most exhaustive features list and the Active is no different. You get all the bells and whistles. The Active’s top-trim gets two airbags and ABS. You also get rear parking sensors, a cooled glovebox along with 1GB of storage space on the stereo for your music.
Most buyers who plan on buying a compact crossover do it for the style and image alone. These are two areas where the Active i20 scores top marks in. That, along with the punchy and refined diesel engine, extensive features list and that trusted Hyundai brand name make it the best hatchback crossover in the market at the moment. So is you are looking at a car that offers the practicality of a hatchback but the road presence of a SUV, the Active i20 makes great sense.