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Hyundai i20: Paris Auto Show

What Is It?

The Hyundai i20 brings its bold new face to the 2014 Paris Auto Show. Although the i20 is a global car that’s never been sold in the U.S., it could signal what’s next for the U.S.-market Hyundai Accent sedan and hatchback.

The strong presence conveyed by the i20’s front fascia is immediately striking. Although this is a tiny car — smaller, historically, than even the diminutive Accent — its large, confident headlights (with LED running lights) and trapezoidal grille make it look unusually comfortable in its own skin. It’s not too farfetched to imagine the i20 taking on stylish runabouts such as the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, right? After all, the stretched MINI hatchback rolls on a 101.1-inch wheelbase, and the new i20’s wheelbase has gained 45 millimeters for a total of 2,570 mm — which converts to, you guessed it, 101 inches. Interestingly, the current 2014 Hyundai Accent also has a 101-in wheelbase.

You can see where we’re going with this: Supposing that the i20 really is the next Accent, we expect it to offer a wide range of hardware in U.S. specification to compete with everything from budget subcompacts to MINI-style premium models. The global version is set to offer a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine like the ones in the base MINI Cooper and the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost, so that’s a good place to start. Would Hyundai consider installing the robust 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder from the Veloster Turbo? That might be too much to hope for right off the bat, but meanwhile, a standard nonturbo 4-cylinder seems a likely base offering, with a high-powered hot-hatch version arriving in the not-too-distant future.

Inside, the i20’s dignified dashboard puts it leaps and bounds ahead of the current Accent. The center stack looks like a downsized version of what’s in the new Sonata, with similar trapezoidal control panels that echo the shape of the abovementioned grille. Notable features include a 7-in toucshcreen, full smartphone integration and a panoramic sunroof that actually opens (said to be a segment first overseas). A lane-departure warning system will also be offered.

How Much?

To be determined.

When Can You Get It?

The current Accent debuted in 2012, so it’s entering its fourth model year for 2015. Our crystal ball says that if Hyundai i20’s going to show up here at all, it’ll be as a 2017 model sometime in late 2015 or early 2016.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

You’re sold on Hyundai’s relentlessly improving product line, and you’re ready for its volume-selling subcompact to take the next step.

Other Cars to Consider

MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door With the same wheelbase and likely a similar 3-cylinder engine, the Cooper Hardtop will be a threat, albeit at a higher price.

Ford Fiesta — Another member of the 3-cylinder club, the Fiesta offers Euro-inspired handling and an available high-performance Fiesta ST that Hyundai will hopefully try to emulate.

Used Volkswagen Golf — The somewhat larger Golf tends to get pricey if you option it out at the dealership, but a certified pre-owned model can be a great value.


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