By Marc Lachapelle
After unveiling the five-door version of its i20 subcompact at the Mondial 2008 in Paris last fall and seeing it launch successfully on the European market, Hyundai has followed up in Geneva with the introduction of a spunky and cheery three-door i20.
Built on the same platform as the five-door i20, the three-door variant looks like a laser-lock rival to the current Toyota Yaris three-door. The Korean upstart is slightly longer (3,930 vs 3,825 mm) and built on a wheelbase also a touch lengthier (2,525 vs 2,460 mm) than its potential rival. The i20 is also quite comparable in size to the current Accent 3-door. Its longer wheelbase and a body that is both shorter and wider promise a roomier cabin and a smaller footprint. And the five-door i20 could tackle the similarly-equipped Honda Fit.
The three-door gets a full helping of active and passive safety systems including six standard airbags, active head restraints, the latest in ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control. The Euro model also gets an extensive range of modern and impressively stingy gasoline and diesel engines from 1.2 to 1.4 litre in displacement, but eventual North American versions would likely get bigger cubes.
That said, a combined fuel economy rating of 5.2 litres per 100km from a 1.2-litre gasoline engine and a Prius-competitive 4.4 litres per 100km with a 1.4-litre diesel look quite attractive to Canadian eyes these days.