Hyundai ix20 1.4

Our favourite car in this class still makes a great deal of sense and puts in a strong performance in this test

Can our current class leader defend its crown? We raved about the diesel ix20 when it trumped its rivals last year (Issue 1,138), so now we see if the petrol version puts in a similarly strong perfrmance.

It’s still the style champion in this line-up. Not only is it neatly proportioned, but the ix20 features the kind of details you would expect to find on more expensive machines. Its distinctive headlamps and door mirrors fitted with integral indicator repeaters add a touch of class to the exterior.

Inside, it’s a similar story. You will find spacious dimensions, split sliding rear seats and a panoramic sunroof, while the quality of the fixtures and fittings is first-rate. The classy buttons for the stereo, simple switches for the air-conditioning and clear instrumentation highlight the effort that has gone into designing the interior.

Trim quality is the best on test, and the kit count is a match for the Verso-S and Venga’s. Highlights include Bluetooth connectivity, full iPod integration and a multifunction leather steering wheel, complete with backlit buttons. Forward visibility is aided by the tall driving position, while rear parking sensors compensate for the car’s thick C-pillars.

A cavernous 440-litre boot is the joint biggest here, along with that of the car’s Kia cousin. Plus, a simple false floor allows you to create a flat load space when you fold the rear seats, or it can be lowered to optimise the available capacity.

Despite a meagre 89bhp output, the four-cylinder petrol engine provides decent pace, as long as you don’t mind using the full rev range – peak power and torque are delivered at 6,000rpm and 5,000rpm respectively.

As with all the cars in this test, though, heavy loads or a full complement of passengers will blunt acceleration. Around town, the stop-start system comes into play, too. The Hyundai is the only car in this line-up with the clever fuel-saving kit, and it works with a shift indicator to give strong eco-credentials.

It’s trumped in the official economy standings only by the Toyota. Where the ix20 really scores is on comfort. Despite its close similarity to the Kia, it stands out as the most cosseting option because its suspension was tuned specifically for UK roads.

It does a better job of riding big bumps and coarse surfaces than any of its competitors here. Decent brakes, a light gearshift and numb but accurate steering round off the driving experience. This accomplished performance is backed up by a brilliant five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and matching roadside assistance package. Factor in the brand’s superb reputation for dealer service, and you’ve got one of the most convincing small family runarounds on the market.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Our class champion will take some beating thanks to its brilliant combination of space, style, value and low running costs.

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