The small crossover segment is really heating up. After Ford's great success with the EcoSport last year, other manufacturers are starting to take a keen interest in the budget crossover segment. Seemingly first to the punch will be Hyundai, with the new i20 Cross Sport.
The i20 Cross Sport exudes class, with hooked LED-equipped headlights, a funky gas cap, chunky body cladding, and floating D-pillars. It's not quite a crossover, however. It's basically a jacked up i20 hatchback, much in the same way a Subaru XV is a taller Impreza. Despite this, the Cross Sport has an impressive 170mm of ground clearance, matching many actual crossovers. It's not quite as off-road-ready as the EcoSport's 200mm ride height, but it's good enough for most city slickers.
Dimension-wise, the i20 Cross Sport shares the same wheelbase as the Accent hatch, but it's built on a newer platform developed by Hyundai's European arm. It's slightly shorter and slightly wider than the Accent, at 3,995mm and 1,760 mm, respectively. There's an extra 70mm of height as well, something that you really notice sitting in the backseat, which has the same generous legroom as the Accent.
Power comes from either the 99hp 1.4-liter Kappa gasoline engine used in the Accent, or a new 89hp 1.4-liter CRDi. According to the press release, the gasoline variant will come with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, instead of the CVT found in the Accent sedan. If the new 1.4 CRDi is anywhere near as frugal as the 1.5, economy should be fantastic with the available six-speed manual transmission.
The i20's interior follows in the style of the European-designed Grand i10, with a two-tone black-and-orange dashboard, and snazzy pinstripe black-and-orange seats. Material quality is a step up on the Grand i10 and the Accent, and the design reflects the same Germanic aesthetic as the Volkswagen-ish exterior. The demo units aren't final spec; while the steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth and USB functionality are present, the rear-view camera and the rear AC aren't showcased here, although Hyundai assures us they're coming. We hope Hyundai keeps the cool flower-spoked alloy wheels.
One major concern for the i20 is the price. As dealers were set to have a conference after the launch to "address concerns about pricing," it seems we in the media were not the only ones thinking about numbers. Given prices overseas, it seems like the fully loaded diesel variant will be in the P900,000 range. We imagine that the price-leader gasoline variant hasn't been finalized yet, and that's the important one: Hitting that P800,000 price target will be important in taking the fight to Ford.
We'll find out for sure over the following months. Whatever the price, it's safe to say that the i20 Cross Sport will definitely give the EcoSport a run for its money.
Photos by Niky Tamayo