A few years ago a Hyundai would have passed me by without a second glance. Hyundais of the past were cheap but they were anything but cheerful. Recently, however, a revolution has happened and Hyundai's current range is not only excellent value for money – it's also desirable. They look cool and are as well made as their rivals and to prove this, Hyundai's even offering five years warranty on all its new vehicles.

The i20 I'm testing is the mid-range Active model fitted with the most popular engine choice – the 1.2 petrol. Although it's not packed with clever features, ours comes with bluetooth, electric folding mirrors and steering wheel audio controls as standard. If you want luxuries such as automatic headlights and a reversing camera opt for the top-of-the-range Style from £12,345.
From the outside it's a very handsome little car, its facelift front lights replacing the gawping lights of the pre-facelift model, suggesting that Hyundai means business against its rivals such as the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta. The interior is a little disappointing – some of the plastics feel cheap (the gear knob looks like it was bought from Halfords) and the seats are a little on the firm side. However, it is spacious with plenty of room for four adults and the boot is huge compared to others in its class.
To drive, the i20 isn't entertaining, but it isn't meant to be. It's a safe drive, the suspension absorbing bumps well and the performance is more than adequate. During my time with the i20 it displays an average of around high 40s mpg on the computer. Like with the Swift I reviewed recently, I'm spending a lot of time with the i20 sat at motorway speeds – where the revs are a little higher than ideal at 70mph meaning the engine is working hard and guzzling more fuel than it would pootling along A-roads at 50 mph, which is how a lot of these spend their time. There are other engines available – 1.4 petrol and diesel units as well as a 1.1 diesel, however I've been impressed with the 1.2 and I'm not convinced it'd be worth splashing out for a more powerful or efficient engine.
Around town the i20 excels. Its light steering and clutch combined with a small turning circle makes it a doddle to manoeuvre and visibility is good. Unlike a lot of cars in its class, the i20 is easy to judge when parking as there are no large overhangs and massive blind spots.

If you're after a sporty little hatchback with the badge of a marque that will impress your friends, the i20 is not for you. However if practicality, reliability and value for money are what you're after, combined with a conservative but handsome image, it's worth considering an i20.

Hyundai i20 1.2 Active

Recommended retail price: £11,595
Top speed: 104 mph
0-62 mph: 12.7 secs
Official combined fuel consumption: 57.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 114 g/km
Insurance group: 5
Road tax: Band C - £30/year
Servicing: 12 months/10,000 miles
Warranty: Five years/unlimited miles
I liked: Practical, good value for money and excellent warranty.
I didn’t like: Not very exciting. Interior feels a little cheap.

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