Hyundai i20 Active joins the crossover Halloween. Where premium hatchbacks masquerade as SUVs.

New Delhi, 18 March 2015: The much awaited i20 Active was launched by Hyundai Motor India at the JW Mariott, New Delhi Aerocity yesterday. The occasion marked the global debut of the vehicle.

Targeted at the aspirational, metropolitan, enthusiastic and value-seeking young generation, who live an active lifestyle, the vehicle follows on the footsteps of the Toyota Etios Cross and the Fiat Avventura to pitch itself at the top end of the growing crossover segment – a niche where premium hatchbacks seem to be having a Halloween party masquerading as SUVs.

Hyundai India has had a rather successful 2014 and they have followed it up with a few quick launches in the first quarter of 2015. Their vehicles have struck the perfect balance between quality and value, and made their way into the consumers’ hearts. The fact is that they understand emerging India and the personal transportation needs of the new generation better than any other vehicle manufacturer at the moment.

The Elite i20 in its original form is a personal favorite with its fluidic design, sporty performance, aggressive pricing and all the bells and whistles that make it an absolutely ‘no compromise’ vehicle. The new i20 Active is based on the original Elite i20 platform and looks stylish as its SUV doppelgänger, with some cool first-in-class features like cornering lamps, cluster ionizer and the smart pedal. It incorporates Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy and has a well proportioned, bold and athletic presence thanks to the blacked out C-Pillar, a raised ride height, increased ground clearance (190mm) and the sharp hexagonal grille. The car has sporty 16-inch diamond cut alloys, which lend an aggressive touch. Projector headlamps with LED day time running lamps & positioning lamps give the vehicle added flair.

There is a choice of two color packages for the interiors – Tangerine Orange and Aqua Blue. The vehicle retains the same engine and gearbox as the hatchback version. The 1.2 Kappa Dual VTVT Petrol has an output of 83ps and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with an ARAI certified mileage of 17.19 km/l. While the 1.4 U2 CRDi Diesel variant does 90ps and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, and does an impressive 21.19 km/l.

The i20 Active comes loaded with features that will surely impress the aspiring young metropolitan customer. Keyless entry, push button start, 8 speakers for surround sound, rear AC vents, multifunction steering wheel and and a 1GB internal memory for entertainment on-the-go, are just a few. It is also well equipped with safety features like dual airbags, ABS, cornering headlamps and impact sensing auto door unlock. Many of these are features one would expect in a higher segment, and Hyundai once again pushes the benchmark in its offering, combining great features with an overall superior built quality.

The vehicle ticks all the right boxes for the crossover segment. However, it fails on the one count which has been Hyundai’s strong point, and that is meeting the principal desire of ‘value’ that the Indian customer seeks. The vehicle is clearly overpriced, with the petrol 1.2 version starting at INR 638,586 and 1.2S version at INR 709,735. The diesel 1.4 version starts at INR 763,228, the 1.4S is for INR 834,337 and the 1.4SX version is for INR 889,427. This is an introductory price and may go up further, and that is cause for worry.

There seems to be a hint of over confidence in the pricing strategy. At these price points, the i20 Active is more expensive than competitors, and would encourage customers to look out of the segment and explore alternatives. But who knows, the pricing may even work for Hyundai. I personally feel the 2015 consumer in the sub 10.0 lac price point has been spoilt for choice. They expect more for the same price and this is too heavy a premium, for what are primarily cosmetic changes.

In short, a perfect vehicle, at a slightly imperfect price. But if they do manage to get over the ‘expensive’ tag through some aggressive marketing and sales strategy, Hyundai has yet another clear winner in their hands. 

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