The obsession for SUVs in India is the primary reason for the proliferation of “Cross” styled vehicles. Companies that do not have an answer to the Ford EcoSport or Renault Duster have taken the easier route of spicing up a regular hatchback into a taller, more aggressive SUV lookalike — such as the Cross Polo, Etios Cross and more recently Fiat Avventura. The entry of the Hyundai i20 Active in the mix may be just what the doctor ordered.
Hyundai has done with the Active exactly what Toyota and Fiat did with their own vehicles, albeit better. The Elite i20 is already a good looking car and its style is a major reason for its success. The Active has 20mm higher ground clearance, projector headlamps, round and large Yeti-like fog lamps, skid plates with faux tusk bar, new two tone front bumpers and air dam and roof rails.
The side cladding is subtler, and daytime running lights (DRL) make a comeback, this time in the headlamp unit. The rear also gets round reflectors to complement the fog lamps, skid plates on the bumper and a large tailgate spoiler. It may not sport the aggression of the Duster, but the additional features will attract consumers.
There are nice little touches inside the cabin as well. The dashboard layout and design are the same as the i20, but Active gets better moulded fabric seats and two colour options—blue and orange. The dashboard, central console and the seats are colour-coordinated, with the orange variant with its subtle touches around the AC vents and music system more aesthetic than the in-your-face all-blue variant that looks a trifle tacky. The new colour theme not only differentiates the Active from the regular i20 but also adds an edge to it. The quality of the cabin is a few notches above the Etios Cross and almost at par with the Cross Polo.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Active retains i20’s 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines and there is no change in the specs. What has changed is the 190-mm ground clearance which has brought numerous changes in suspension settings. While the Cross Polo sits exactly like a regular Polo and the Etios Cross is only marginally higher than the Etios Liva, Active is considerably higher. Having said that, it does not change the car’s driving dynamics much. The perspective from the driver’s seat is good but not as commanding as the EcoSport or Duster. Both the petrol and diesel engines are refined and have enough power even for the occasional highway drive, but it does not
h av e the mid-range thrust that defines sports utility vehicles..
At Rs. 6.4-7.1 lakh for the two petrol variants and Rs. 7.6-8.9 lakh for the three diesel ones, Hyundai has priced the Active well. It charges a bit of a premium over the Etios and Avventura but given the gizmos and build quality, Active makes a compelling case for itself.
Airbags, even as a higherpriced option, would have been welcome. Interestingly, the top-end diesel version is priced very close to the Duster’s 85 PS variant, and some may prefer to make that crossing. Among the ‘Crosses’, though, there is little contesting that the i20 Active is the top pick today.
Maruti is readying a Cross variant of its SX4 sedan. When that happens, the battle would begin in right earnest.