Hyundai has taken a very adventurous step forward in the premium hatchback segment by giving the successful Elite i20 hatchback the in-vogue crossover treatment. The unique bit about this Korean creation is, unlike its competitors - the VW Cross Polo, Fiat Avventura and Toyota Etios Cross – TopGear's 2015 Hatchback of the Year comes out of Hyundai’s beauty clinic appearing more adventure-ready than ever, while also managing to retain a premium and sporty feel. That, and the task of transforming the regular hatch into a crossover wasn't left only to the Hyundai's cosmetics department.
The i20 Active comes with new projector headlamps with daytime-running lights and cornering lamps, things the Elite missed out on. Other tasteful bits include the roof rails, new bumpers with rounded fog lamps, a skid plate and plastic cladding around the base of the hatch – that protects the lower bodywork from minor scrapes and scratches, new 16-inch diamond-cut alloys, a rugged-cool looking fuel-filler cap, lend this variant a sinewy look. With a marginal increase in dimensions, the Active sits 190mm above the ground, which is a 20mm improvement in ground clearance over the Elite.
The equipment list is equally exhaustive. One gets everything from the top of the line Elite i20 on this, the i20 Active SX. So there’s keyless entry and start, a multifunctional steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a stereo with 1 GB internal memory, digital climate control and a reversing camera. It also gets automatic lights, ABS and air bags. Additionally, the i20 Active gets cornering lights and aluminium pedals. Yes, we know the latter doesn't really add to the driving experience in any way, but we like it for it looks cool.
What’s not so cool, is the use of blue on the dashboard, the doors and the seats. It just takes away from that plush feeling the Elite i20 is known for. Now this ‘blue’ is exclusive to the silver car. If you do however choose the brown or the red, all you get is matte orange outlines and inserts for the aircon vents, stereo, seats and the gear-lever. To be honest, we would have preferred an all black interior but if we had to choose between the two existing options – and this reads strange to me even as I write it - we’d settle for the orange.
Inside the cabin it is the same story as the Elite i20, it has the same space and equipment on offer. However, to spice things up Hyundai is offering two new colourthemes – Tangerine Orange and Aqua Blue. The insides, majorly black, are then dressed in contrasting colours. The aluminium pedals are new and add to the sporty appeal inside.
The i20 Active packs in all the goodies that the Elite i20 has, but with the added benefit of higher ground clearance and pseudo machoness. It offers a good ride,is a decent handler, has proven engines and most importantly since it is a Hyundai, it should be easy to live with. If the i20 Active has caught your fancy, then we’d recommend the diesel variant, as it has the power to transport five passengers and the luggage and is more efficient too.