By Patrick James on 2016-11-26 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Hyundai i20 Active
JUST in case anyone has been living on Mars, crossovers are now all the rage.
From the Qashqai to the 2008 from Peugoet, Mazda's CX-5 and the Renault Kadjar, all the car manufacturers are getting in on the act, even the upmarket brands.
So it should come as no surprise that Hyundai has produced a rugged looking version of the the i20, which although front wheel drive, looks like an off-roader.
Like other Hyundai models, it is well blessed with standard kit and comes at a price which although no longer bargain basement, is more than competitive in this class.
Based on the regular i20 with which it shares many components, more than 50 per cent of the exterior parts are unique to the Active.
It features a revised suspension, a commanding driving position and better all round visibility, while the body is raised by an extra 20mm allowing easier access.
The i20 Active does look more rugged with different bumpers, skid plates, integrated roofbars, rear spoiler and round fog lamps to front and rear.
In addition it features side skirts and cladding and more muscular wheel arches and new, 17-inch alloy wheels.
The interior feels even more spacious thanks to the raised seating positions, and feels light and airy, with decent leg and headroom all round.
The robust look continues inside with metal pedals while interior colour scheme can be personally tailored.
This model featured a one-litre three cylinder petrol turbo charged engine, which produces plenty of grunt and delivery a pleasing raspy sound under hard acceleration.
It has power outputs of 100 or 120ps. Three cylinder engines are all the rage these days, particularly on smaller cars where lower weight, but decent power make it an attractive option.
The 100ps is the one I sampled but Hyundai says the higher powered unit has been developed to facilitate more spirited driving without sacrificing efficiency.
To keep the engine unit as small as possible, the exhaust manifold is integrated within the cylinder head and can therefore be cooled efficiently using the cylinder head water cooling system.
Mated to a smooth five-speed gearbox, it hits 60mph in just 10.7 seconds and has good pull throughout the gear range. It's not at the expense of economy either, with a claimed, if slightly ambitious figure of 62.8mpg.
However lower emissions of 104g/km means it is cheap to tax and attracts low benefit in kind taxation. It's all quite an impressive package at just under Â£16,000.
Handling is also decent despite its higher ground clearance while the ride if on the soft but comfortable side. Wind and road noise are not too bad, while the rasp of the engine is far from unpleasant.
The interior is well laid and Korean motors now match European competitors for quality, with logical controls and robust fixtures and fittings to give the car a well put together feel.
The dark finish is offset by nice bright trim touches throughout the cabin and to steering wheel, gear lever, doors and brake lever. The multi-function steering wheel and gear lever are also leather trimmed.
Standard kit fitted includes electric windows and door mirrors, cruise control, privacy glass, aligned projector lights, air conditioning, DAB radio with six speakers, parking sensors and aux connectivity and smartphone docking point.
Safety kits is also impressive with six airbags, ABS, stability control, emergency brake system, hill start and speed sensing door locking.
For practicality, the boot is a decent size with 326 litres, but fold down the rear split seats and a large stowage space of 1,042 litres opens up. In addition, a luggage net keeps shopping secure while there are bottle holders and other containers for extra practicality.
A TomTom LIVE service is also available featuring real-time traffic updates, weather, POI (Points of Interest) search, plus speed camera warnings in selected countries
Hyundai i20 Active 1.0 T-GDi
Mechanical: 100ps 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 62.8
Insurance Group: 6
C02 emissions: 104g/km
Bik rating: 17%
Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles
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