The Hyundai Grand i10 was nothing short of a rude shock to the players in its segment. The Korean carmaker exhibited to the bunch comprising both Indian and international carmakers its stellar understanding of the market with a near-flawless product. The way the Grand i10 was brought to life took the expectations from the new-generation 2014 i20, or the Elite i20 to some really lofty levels. Upon its reveal, the Elite i20 divulged its Euro-centric inclinations – evident through its evolved take on exterior styling and a reinvigorated focus on sophisticated and understated, yet feature rich and comfortable interior.
In a fashion atypical of car makers in India, Hyundai India this time organized a media drive for its newest car model post its launch. We got to pilot the newest machinery from the Korean carmaker in the semi-urban setting of the historical city of Jodhpur. With the majestic Umaid Bhawan Palace providing a grand backdrop, we drove the new Elite i20 through the streets of the Blue City to evaluate and appreciate its abilities. Here’s detailed a log of our experience.
Design and styling
The Elite i20 represents the next rendition of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy, which, with its fresh new take on automotive design caught the fancy of millions – instantly raising the visual appeal of the products rolling out of the Korean brand’s stable. The thoroughly authentic design attitude, represented by Fluidic Sculpture 1.0 gave us delightful machines such as the Fluidic Verna, the new Sonata and the brilliant Elantra, which in our humble opinion is a classic exponent of fluid, well-proportioned lines.
The Elite i20, as stated by Mr. Casey Hyun, the brain behind the styling of the new hatch, has its roots in the much bigger and more premium Genesis sedan. Drawing inspiration from the silhouette of the premium Genesis limo, the new i20 has decided to adopt the more mature and understated European lines, averting the more expressive lines of the Fluidic Sculpture version 1.0 school of thought.
With the evolved European market within its crosshairs, the Elite i20 adopts a more cautious course to reach its design goals. The tweaked approach is evident in the way the car looks as compared to the rest of products bearing the Fluidic Sculpture hallmark.
The face of the car has some really interesting details. To start with, the radiator grille has taken a really low position on the massive new bumper. The chrome lined, single frame hexagonal grille houses the registration plate surrounded by a unique mesh pattern. The central elements of each mesh unit stand out as illuminated studs, as light falls on them from certain angles (see image below)
The bonnet is styled as though it’s slashed off before its end – somewhat in the Nissan Micra fashion. The plastic panel ahead of the bonnet merges into a narrow slit holding the Hyundai emblem. Flanking this slit are the newly designed swept back headlamps with integrated blinkers on the inner ends and interesting chrome elements inside. On top of the headlamps units are white accents, which would turn into daytime running lights for the Euro spec variants. Hyundai are not offering the feature for India, which is surprising as the previous gen version had it.
The mesh treatment continues below the radiator grille on the narrow air dam, which broadens towards its exterior ends to house the angularly shaped fog lamps. The lowermost portion of the front bumper is finished in an aggressively styled, wing-like, extended fashion, adding some more character to the fascia.
In profile, the large, swept back headlamps extend onto the fenders. The surface beyond the chrome element is finished in black and culminates above the front wheel arch. The headlamp’s rearmost end marks the beginning of the Elite i20’s shoulder line, which gets stronger as it traverses the car’s length before ending strongly into the aggressively styled tail-lamps.
The roofline drops down front to back to lend the car a sporty stance, and merges into the nicely styled spoiler. Window frames get a black plastic treatment, but more importantly, the wide C pillar has been blacked out completely for a floating roof treatment. While the concept by itself is admirable, we really think that Hyundai could have replaced the rough, black plastic with a smooth, glossy black glass for stronger visual impact.
ORVMs bear integrated blinkers, handles on the top spec Asta variant are all chrome and the car comes clad with rub strips on the lower portion of both front and rear doors. The new 8 spoke wheels look nice, though we can imagine the i20 carrying an even snazzier set with élan.
Where the Elite i20 really stands out is at the rear. In all honestly, we just could not take our eyes off those aggressively styled LED tail-lamps. The horizontally laid out jewel inspired tail-lamps look fantastic, especially when lit. The exterior section of the three-block lamp unit, integrated with the blinkers rests below the C-pillar, while the other two blocks are mounted on the hatch door. The surface between the tail lamps has been raised to lend the rear an even sportier stance. At the centre of this hump you have the bold Hyundai emblem with the rear view camera positioned right below.
The rear bumper, just like the front unit is massive, and has an angularly shaped, large sized recess to house the registration plate. Bottom of the bumper houses reflectors on its flanks with the right reflector featuring the reverse lamp to its right.
The Elite i20 is an eye-catching car. Its proportions are bang on the money. With being 24mm wider than the previous gen car, and boasting flatter bonnet, the stance is squat and sporty. Those wide, aggressively styled tail-lamps are an absolute standout feature. There are some elements which we think we could have been better executed, like the blacked out C-pillar we talked about earlier. However, the Elite i20 thanks to its big size and some interesting details succeeds in grabbing attention on the road, much more than most of its immediate rivals.