Car Buyers Guide

Hyundai i20 Active

February 2016



  • New 1.0-litre engine is an excellent all-rounder
  • Active model comes with a good specification
  • Looks enhanced with Active add-ons
  • Overall quality is good for the price


  • Driving experience is safe rather than engaging
  • Hyundai badge still lacks kudos amongst some buyers
  • Standard i20 offers the same space and similar looks for less money
  • Rear seat headroom won't suit taller adults
Rarely a manufacturer that stands still, Hyundai has introduced an updated version of its highly popular i20 supermini and included a new model to the range too. The i20 Active is Hyundai's take on a crossover, bringing a suite of small changes to offer an alternative to the regular i20 hatchback.

Competition is fierce at the smaller end of the market, and while image is an important factor it is often value that is at the top of the priority list. Hyundai has been consistently improving the quality of its cars in recent years, adding to their desirability but remaining consistent with its high value ethos. The i20 is a prime example of this.

New to the i20 range is the Active model, which is the first compact crossover to come from Hyundai. Rather than being a standalone model, the Active fits within the i20 range although it is a unique trim level of its own. Importantly the Active model remains two-wheel-drive only as with other i20 models, although the ride height is raised by 20mm.

The Active model is also distinguished by a number of exterior enhancements, most notably the new front and rear bumpers which hint at underbody protection but which are unlikely to be utilised. Active models also gain roof rails and a rear spoiler, while the interior specification is also enhanced although all i20 models have additional equipment following this year's upgrade.

Mechanically speaking much of the revised 2016 remains as before but one significant change is the option of a new 1.0-litre petrol engine. The three-cylinder turbocharged unit is a new design and is available in two power outputs, and the i20 Active model in particular can only be specified with this power unit. It replaces a naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol unit, promising better economy as well as improved performance.

Our verdict on the Hyundai i20 Active
Choosing the Active model over the regular i20 is more a matter of specification and looks than any off-road ability, but the fact is that SUV-derived models now account for a huge proportion of the overall market. It's arguably more handsome than the standard car and is good value, but it is the perky yet frugal engine that gives it such strong appeal.