The Hyundai brand has seen somewhat of a resurgence over the past couple of years, with a range of attractive high-value cars to suit most budgets.
The iX20 is Hyundai's latest entry into the highly contested mini-MPV class, offering smart looks and plenty of space. But is there more to the iX20 than its neat looks and tardis-like interior? I spent a week with the iX20 1.4 CRDi Active to find out.
The iX20 was launched last year and although it's Hyundai's second European car to adopt their new 'fluidic sculpture' form language (the most recent being the i40 Tourer estate), if you think it looks similar to another car on sale, you'd be right. As, the iX20 is similar in design and has shared underpinnings with the sister car, the Kia Venga.
The Hyundai looks best from the front, with the large headlight units with detailed refelectors and the family hexagonal grille/front air dam, that has a pattern that is supposedly inspired by the veins in a leaf that appears throughout the car; it looks great.
At the side, the highlights are the curvy roofline, the distinctive wheel arches, the upswept window line and a neat undercut at the bottom of the doors. With a large set of rear light clusters that eat into the rear quarters and a distinctive rear lip spoiler completing the look of the back of the iX20.
Our test car was fitted with one of three engines available for the iX20, the 89bhp 1.4-litre CRDi diesel. With emissions of 114g/km and 65.7mpg fuel consumption figures, in these cost-conscious times, the iX20 should prove cheap to run.
Light steering means the iX20 is fine around town and easy to park with generally excellent all-round vision, apart from the thick front windscreen pillars. The steering is fine on the motorway too.
With the iX20's tall body, there's plenty of roll in corners. Good news then, that there's plenty of grip from the 16-inch wheels. The bodyroll and steering which is both overlight and lacking in feel, work together to give a driving experience that isn't much fun. A Vauxhall Meriva drives better.
The iX20's ride is generally good, but it's happiest on the open road than in town, where it can feel unsettled at low speed.
Inside, the iX20 looks smart and modern, although the centre console is a bit busy and the ventilation controls are overcomplicated. The quality of the switchgear and interior plastics isn't quite in the same league as European rivals, but Hyundai have come a long way in terms of design and again I like the leaf vein design again on the speaker grilles.
The 1.4-litre diesel engine is smooth enough, but it feels slow and unresponsive. Yes, it sips diesel and features Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) but it has to be worked so hard to keep up with other traffic, that this has surely got to harm the economy.
The six-speed manual transmission has a workman-like feel, that isn't a pleasure to use. As I mentioned before, you won't buy this car for its performance; 60mph comes up in 14.5 seconds and the top speed is just 104mph.
The iX20's doors open wide and the tall driving position is commanding. The high roof means there's an impressive amount of space in the back and there's plenty of room for three six-footers. The 440 litre boot is a good size and a practical shape; it can be extended to 1,486 litres with the rear seats down. They also move forward and back and there's also a clever adjustable boot floor.
In Active trim, the iX20 lives up to Hyundai's reputation for value, with air-conditioning, remote central locking, electric front windows, a CD player with a USB socket, electric rear windows, Bluetooth, alloy wheels and parking sensors, all as standard for £14,645.
The six-speaker single-disc CD player sounds great and there are USB and aux ports to play your MP3 player through. A navigation system is not available on the iX20.
To sum up, if you're looking for a high-value, stylish mini-MPV, that's more practical than fun to drive, then the iX20 is well worth a look. However, if you value driver involvement, you're better off elsewhere.