Hyundai: Smart and sophisticated
Hyundai's i20 is a car in the brand's new mould - smart and very European in looks and focus. No surprise then that it's designed in Germany. I trialled the car in Britain, where, with its narrow, congested roads and pricey fuel,it fits right in. I sampled the 1.4-litre petrol auto in Comfort trim, a combination we will get here.
It's a new car with an all-new platform, longer, lower and wider than the Getz it supplants, with a longer wheelbase, and new rack and pinion steering. However, the engine is not new, being shared with the i30 in Europe though not here, where the line-up opens with a 1.6.
The company line
The i20 will replace the Getz in New Zealand, though the older model is tipped to initially remain on sale for budget buyers. Hyundai NZ has landed a pre-production 1.4-litre diesel for evaluation and hopes to launch before Christmas, with five-door cars sporting frugal engines and auto transmissions.
What we say
This is a smart little beast particularly in the hot-red of our test example, with red seat and trim inserts. The cabin is well laid out with firm, but comfy pews and good ergonomics.
It will easily fit four average-sized adults plus a reasonable 295-litres of luggage. Got more? The rear seat squabs swivel up and the seatbacks fold to take 1060 litres - although the load floor is still stepped.
There's a decent features list at Comfort spec. ABS brakes, stability control and six airbags are standard, plus 15-inch alloys, a CD and aux/USB port, a multi-function trip showing fuel remaining, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and glovebox cooling.
On the road
My third week in Britain has really underlined the benefits of diesel engines; they're far more frugal. Over similar routes this 73kW/137Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine returned 7.8l/100km after a week of varied driving; more than either of the previous two small diesel cars I've sampled. To be fair, only the Hyundai was fully loaded, but still, its claim is 6.1.
That said, this car's performance was far perkier than last week's similarly sized Citroen with its 1.6-litre diesel engine.
The Hyundai could do with a five-speed auto instead of the four-speed, which at times needs an insistent foot on the go-pedal to drop a cog. But under most conditions the set-up worked fine, and indeed it scampers along rather well, even with three adults and a day's picnic detritus aboard.
It feels assured too, an able successor to the sweet-handling Getz, though ride was a touch firm on Britain's patched roads - especially for the rear-seat passenger. However, this car feels far more refined than the Getz - as refined as its looks suggest.
Why you'll buy one
It's smart inside and out, with a decent features list and a grown-up feel, and very practical around town.
Why you won't
You're awaiting price before making a decision - or you're stuck in a 1980s time warp and haven't noticed how good the Koreans have got.