Hyundul l20 versus rlvuls

26 Mur 2009 5:44 AM by Amlt Chhungunl ln Multlple compurlsons, Hyundul, Murutl, Skodu,
The first iteration of the deadly fight
between the big diesel hatches on a
mission to gun down gasoline saw
the Swift DDiS emerge as the most
lethal oil burner. The small gasoline
hatches , in the meantime , are
engaged in an intra-racial skirmish for
survival. There¶s a new , extremely
potent killer on the block. This
hostile Hyundaihailing from South
Korea is called the i20 and it is ready
to challenge the might of champions
from Germany and Japan. It¶s going to
be one hell of a fight.
To understand the magnitude of the i20 as a new contender , we need to rewind about five years back in time. Those of you who have
a profound interest in cars would recollect that Korean cars were considered in a league of their own when it came to aesthetics. They
were crowned the ugliest cars on the face of this planet almost unanimously. Like that was not a big enough accolade , these cars
featured poor technology , were flimsily put together and drove like metallic incarnations of disappointment itself. That was also the
time when Hyundai was emerging on the global automotive scene as a powerful player , and even though the company didn¶t have an
authentically well-engineered car to its credit , most small and midsize Hyundais were known to do their job reasonably well. Yet for
most international auto journalists , bringing out the topic of Korean cars still meant that it was time to crack jokes. And it wasn¶t
very different in India either , where there weren¶t too many quality offerings to begin with. Hyundai¶s small cars went down well
with the market because of their low cost and economical running , but nobody was confident about the more expensive offerings of
the company ± a segment where technology and sophistication take prominence over economy. Somehow Hyundai cars didn¶t quite
match the high European standards of quality , technology and design.
Circa 2007 ± the Hyundai i10 specifically designed and developed for Europe changed the way people looked at the Korean marque.
The i10¶s clean sweep of the Indian Car of the Year awards was unprecedented. Be it any department ± design , comfort , space or
refinement; the i10 bettered its competition in the country on every count and by a good margin. The i10 was a contemporary ,
quality product , ready to take the fight to the biggies. The fact reflected on the growth of the company. Local sales and exports
soared , and the Korean giant posted exceptionally healthy figures throughout 2008 when all the other auto players were feeling the
heat of the recession. Hyundai
had proven its authority in the small
car market. This , however , was not
the segment where we doubted the
Korean company¶s capabilities
anyway. The i20 is a very important
car because it¶s the next link in the
progression. Presenting products as
immaculate as the i10 in higher
segments (the i30 in Europe) will
prove Hyundai¶s aptitude as a
complete carmaker and the i20 is the
next logical step in that direction.
What makes this comparo interesting
is the fact that we have
the Skoda Fabia ± a car that was designed for the demanding European market and has met with great success there. The Swift , the
other contender in this shootout , is the car that was the biggest deterrent in the success of the Getz. Evaluating the i20 against its
cousin¶s nemesis will be interesting.
To start with , the new Hyundai shatters the earlier perception about the design of Korean cars to pieces. The i20 exhibits exceptional
flair and flamboyance. It doesn¶t need any discussion or argument to emerge as the best looking car of the trio , one look would be
enough. The sleek and slim twin grille at the front flanks the Hyundai emblem. Twin creases on the bonnet converge under the
Hyundai insignia to form a U. The vertically tapering headlamps end into a ridge that runs all through the flanks of the bonnet and
merge seamlessly into the A pillars of the car. The big central air-dam with slightly popped out headlamps completes the front which
manages to blend aggression , funkiness and elegance in just the right proportions. Somehow , standing behind the ORVMS and
looking at the swollen headlamps reminds me of the A-star. The windscreen is sharply raked and further accentuates the i20¶s
sportiness at the front. The slant reaches its peak soon after the windscreen ends and dips back sharply again to lend the car that racy
roofline ± a popular trend these days. An extremely strong crease starting from above the front fender and ending in a curve parallel
to the rear wheel arch along with an equally pronounced dip in the lower part of the doors give the i20 a distinctive profile.
The tail lamps of the i20 somehow remind me of the S-class. The latter too has a band of two parallel red glass strips separated by a
white glass band. The huge tail lamps extrude the rear end and enter the side area of the car between the C pillar and above the rear
fender. Full points to Hyundai designers who have managed to pull out a perfect blend of cheekiness , sporty stance and elegance.
The i20 is by far the best looking B segmenter out there. In comparison , the Fabia is more of a conformist and looks somewhat
feminine , even , from certain angles. The Swift¶s oddball form was almost revolutionary at the time of its launch but it¶s beginning to
get boring now.
Inside the new Hyundai¶s cabin , a
clean , uncluttered and pleasing layout
welcomes you. The central console is
a big departure from the minimalist
central units in this category of cars.
Big buttons for easy access , well
sorted controls , use of good quality
plastics and a distinctive design ± the
i20¶s dash reminds you of some much
more expensive cars. Above the
central console , that has a seatbelt
warning for all the five seats as
standard , you have a digital readout
for trip , odo and other info. We
thought that the i20¶s readout will
display data like distance to dry ,
instantaneous fuel efficiency , etc. like the Fabia , but to our disappointment , that was not the case. Aspi wasn¶t too fond of the
chocolate brown-beige interiors. He was very critical of the colour choice especially as Hyundai could have chosen a classier colour
without any extra cost overheads. i found the brown colour nice enough though. The Civic and CR-V style three-spoke steering wheel
with aluminium inserts spells jazz. With steering mounted audio controls , the car looks too good to be true for its segment. A closer
inspection and a few taps on the aluminium finish panel reveal that some cost cutting has gone into that beautiful look. The
aluminium bit may feel slightly cheap but it looks smashing. The leather wrapped wheel , however , feels as nice as it looks. The
clean dash of the i20 augments the feeling of space. The instrumentation layout is conformist in a good way ± black dial , big , white
and clear font. The speedo and odo flank the temperature and fuel gauge. Panels in the cabin meet seamlessly , the finish of the
interior is splendid and the immaculate execution witnessed in the i10 seems to have been further improved. The quality of material
used for the brown dash isn¶t exactly bad or disappointing , but it still feels harder to touch than it ideally should. The way it looks ,
one would expect it to feel softer and suppler. Even the lower beige panels feel slightly scratchy and brittle. Overall , the quality
inside the cabin is commendable and good enough to give the Fabia , the hitherto class leader in that department the heebie-jeebies.
The Swift is showing its age on the interiors front and the amenities that you get as standard even in the i20 Magna trim (bottom of
the line) overshadow the Swift¶s higher spec variants¶ list by a humongous margin. Automatic climate control , tilt and telescopic
steering wheel , rear aircon vents , height adjustable driver¶s seat , seatbelt warning for all passengers , the list of features in the i20
keeps going on and on. The Swift is totally outclassed here. The Fabia , offering a contemporary , high quality , European standard
interior seems comparable with the i20¶s cabin. However , the i20 pips the Skoda by offering a much superior stereo system with
options for auxiliary and USB input , (much) better sound quality with four speakers against the Fabia¶s two-speaker audio system
which is a disappointment. Also , the Fabia doesn¶t have steering mounted volume controls ± a letdown for the price at which it¶s
being sold here. Visually too , the i20¶s cabin looks more lively and jazzier than the Fabia¶s understated interior. The only
functionality that theFabia has and the
i20 doesn¶t , is the trip computer that
gives you data like instantaneous
efficiency , average efficiency ,
distance to dry and heaps of other info
± very useful. The i20 is less spacious
than the Fabia , but only marginally
so. The Swift doesn¶t stand a chance
against the two options here when it
comes to backseat space and comfort.
Add to the i20¶s arsenal , an option of
as many a six airbags for safety and
the Hyundai emerges as the clear
winner among the three cars as far as
interiors go.
The i20 rides on an all-new platform
aimed to deliver the lively driving dynamics demanded by the European market. The car was extensively tested on European roads.
Hot weather testing was carried out in Spain , cold weather trials took place in Sweden while high speed testing was completed in
Germany. As a result , the i20¶s front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension manage to deliver a good blend of dynamic
stability and ride comfort. The car behaves well around corners , feels poised and begs to be driven hard. The small 1.2-litre Kappa
engine though doesn¶t really have the sort of power to let us test the dynamic ability of this car to the limit. With a 185 section rubber
, some may call the i20 an over-tyred car but it aids grip around bends tremendously. The i20 can probably do with thinner rubber for
better efficiency but then you should be ready for the Swift-like squeals the skinny tyres would make at every attempt to guide the car
around bends even at mediocre speeds.
The i20¶s new rack and pinion steering setup has also been tuned to deliver quick and accurate responses for easyCity manoeuvring ,
and great feedback around corners. Extensive use of advanced noise reduction materials , as Hyundai claim , has resulted in a quiet
cabin. In comparison , the Fabia , with its European focus is a terrifically poised car around corners. It takes a lot to unsettle this
Skoda from the chosen line. The wide tyres won¶t let the Fabia wag its tail unless you really want to test your luck. The steering feels
heavy and transmits a solid feel to your palms. It isn¶t as fluid and effortless as the i20 at low speeds but doesn¶t feel inconvenient
either. The ride quality of the Fabia , however , is slightly on the harsher side. Passing over undulations at low speeds makes you
experience a slight bounce while at higher speeds you can hear a distinct thud. While the stiffer setting helps the dynamics at high
speeds , comfort takes a slight hit. The i20 is suppler and more cushioned.
On to the most important aspects then ± engine and gearbox. Why so late? Well , none of the engines on the three cars are convincing
enough. We have experienced the 1.2-litre Kappa unit on the i10 earlier and really appreciated its smoothness and refinement.
However , for a car that weighs more than a tonne and has a 185 section rubber providing grip , the i20¶s 80PS gasoline engine feels
somewhat disappointing. As one would imagine , the car doesn¶t feel too peppy or sprightly for its size. But there still is a sense of
tractability and responsiveness about that Kappa unit. You put the right foot down and the engine will not feel overloaded or non-
responsive. Of course , there is a lack of power reflected in the in-gear acceleration figures but the more important thing here is that
while the car doesn¶t push you back with a shove , it doesn¶t feel entirely breathless too at lower revs.
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