This will be my first ever post in Team-BHP, I am a new member into this huge petrolhead community. So, please do spare me if I do some mistakes but I am always willing to learn. Also this may be a long post so please bear with me.
I am writing this initial ownership experience after 2 months of ownership experience of the i20 N Line IMT variant. I have been following the forum and I felt should write about the IMT variant for the i20 N Line. Previous Cars Ownerships
The i20 N Line is my first car. Although my family has a Hyundai Grand i10 and Maruti Suzuki S-Cross (belongs to my Brother-In-Law, BIL from now on) both of which I have driven quite a lot. Need for new car/first car
It was a matter of heart over head. I have been itching to buy my own car since a few years. So that's the reason. Requirements and Budget
One thing I was clear while buying car was it would be either a Hatchback or a sedan (compact sedans included). I was not a fan of the CSUV or SUV. But I do like the S-Cross Crossover.
Contenders for Test Drives
- Budget: 11 - 12 lakhs On Road
- Safety: At least 4 Stars GNCAP or have good safety equipment like 4 - 6 airbags
- Engine: Petrol Engine as the general running would be less close to 500 - 600 kms a month. But the engine should have good power and torque figures.
- Transmission: Preferably Manual but I was open to good automatics as well like Torque Converters and DCTs
- Driving Dynamics: Should be a good handler, sure footed on highways, good steering feedback and low body roll
- Features: Good Infotainment system, Cruise Control, good quality rear view camera, projector headlights, good AC, spacious interiors and good boot capacity. Alloy wheels were a must (I drool over nicely done machined finish or diamond cut alloys). Sunroof was not priority for me. Also I don't like to do modifications in my car in any manner. I like to keep it stock in every sense.
Test Drive and Initial Impressions:
- Hyundai i20 Asta(O) DCT
- Hyundai i20 N Line N8 IMT
- Tata Altroz iTurbo XZ Plus
- Hyundai Aura SX Plus Turbo
- VW Polo Highline MT
- Honda City (4th Gen V variant)
- Hyundai i20 Asta(O) DCT & i20 N Line IMT weird TD experience
Funny thing was that either of the variants with exact transmission options were not available for TD at the time of visit. So the SA arranged the N Line DCT variant and Asta IMT variant for TD. The N Line drive was really good. The handling and steering feedback were spot on for my liking, although the ride quality was a bit firm but it was expected and thats what made the N Line handle so good. The added bit was the exhaust note which although wasn't loud but you could hear a soft rumble if the music is turned off. Coming to the Asta IMT. The ride was somewhat less firm than the N Line and the steering was more like previous Hyundais and step improvement from the Grand i10. The IMT transmission on the Asta was required getting used to a bit. The transmission was a bit slow in shifts and notchy at times. Not like a perfect shift you witness in a manual. The top of the line i20 or N Line came with good safety equipement and features. The car ticked almost all the requirement boxes. The Bose speakers are just excellent for in car music at least for hatchback or even for sedans. One thing that we noticed is that the seating is bit low, I think lower than most hatchbacks. But the interiors were built good and we already have a Hyundai and the service experience had been good as well.
Final Decision: Shortlisted. The price was out of budget but after driving it I thought if I could stretch my budget a bit, may be buy it (heart over head decision taking place here)
- Tata Altroz iTurbo (No TD Experience)
On the day of TD visit to showroom, it was a Sunday. The first dealership we visited, the SA told they can't give a TD on weekend and asked us to visit on a weekday. At first I thought it is a bit off but I complied. Also there was no Altroz car on display although that dealer being one of the larger ones in Hyderabad. I checked in another showroom they also denied TD on weekend but additionally they informed that there is no turbo variant available for TD. I checked in a third showroom they also didn't have a turbo variant Altroz for TD. But they said that due to semiconductor chip issue there are no TD vehicles. I reverted back to the first dealership on weekday. I called them the SA said he will call back after 30 mins but he didn't. After 1 - 2 hours, I called back again but he disconnected the call. I tried to follow up the next few days but same thing, he disconnected the call. If they don't TD vehicle they can just inform the customer at least.
Final Decision: Skip it. Although I was in so much in favor of this car by seeing the design, features and cost but the initial experience wasn't a good one.
We checked out the Aura the same day we visited for the i20. But after experiencing the i20, the Aura didn't feel quite premium on the interiors and the overall fit & finish. The other thing was that the sibling Grand i10 Nios had scored a 3 stars GNCAP and the safety equipment in terms of airbags as well was down to 2. So I thought, if I can stretch my budget to the i20 then I will go for it.
Final Decision: Skip it.
- Volkswagen Polo Highline MT
TBH, I was highly excited for this legendary car that has been in the market for so many years. I mean who won't be, any car enthusiast knows Polo being one of the best in the market when it came to great driving dynamics and the power on offer. And this showed in the test drive vehicle as well that we drove. The steering feedback was so good and the power and its delivery was so well put together, nothing beats it. It was surely a driver's pleasure for me. And the build was solid. More solid than anything that I had seen in hatchback. But that's where the good things ended as my sister and BIL didn't like seating space and the interiors felt a bit dated as compared to what others had to offer. The boot space was also on the lower side as per the premium hatchback standards. The car lacked rear view camera and projector headlights which could have been done as mods but like I said earlier I like my cars maintained Stock.
Final Decision: Skip it with a heavy heart.
- Honda City (4th Gen and 5th Gen)
On the day of TD visit, the dealership didn't have the 4th Gen City. The SA informed us that the 4th Gen is only for booking and delivery. He showed as customer's 4th Gen City that had come to service. After that we checked out the 5th Gen Honda City on display and then we went for TD. The i-VTEC engine, it is a gem. I have driven the K15B in S-Cross, and this VTEC feels so much lively. The power delivery is strong across the rev range I felt. The steering is great on feel & feedback. Excellent driving dynamics and the ride is plush. The transmission was slick and the gears slotted well. The interiors were spacious, well built and gave that big car feel. The fit & finish on the inside was excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed driving the City. Somethings I didn't like were the rear view camera, it was like grainy even in broad daylight. The car was quite long and I thought it might be a problem in my parking lot but I had to check it. Apart from that the car was just superb. Now I know why so many people like the City.
Final Decision: Shortlisted, although need to check for parking space. Final Selection and Booking
Now I was left with 2 options the i20 (DCT & N Line IMT) and Honda City 5th Gen V Model. Both of which out of my set budget. I did check out the parking space at my apartment with one of my friend's 4th Gen city and found out it was a small one and best suited for hatchbacks, compact sedans and CSUVs under 4m. So that meant bye-bye Honda City. Here I was left with only i20. So I thought should I re-consider the Aura. Till now there was no update on the Altroz. But then I thought, if getting my first car that I am going to keep for quite some years better get a good one and I swayed back to i20. Now in i20 which variant. During my TD, although I liked the DCT but I felt it was missing something from the drive feel and that was the missing gear stick. Blame it on my love for MTs may be. The gear changes at will and just the feel of a manual transmission is something else and cannot be defined. That meant the DCT was out. But then absolute manual meant it had to be the 1.2L Kappa engine which was way too lazy for my liking having driven in the Grand i10 for so long. Last remaining option was IMT and I thought lets give it one more try. So i called the SA and asked for one more round of TD for the IMT variant. The SA very kindly agreed to it and brought the IMT for TD to my home. After driving the second time, I got used to the 2 pedal MT concept. So I went ahead and booked the i20 N Line N8 IMT. The color was white as my family didn't like the Grey color and I was not very much inclined to the red or blue. The Blue was good but that shade of blue just didn't cut it. I wish it had the shade of blue sold in european market with the i20 N. So booking done and the wait began for delivery. The waiting period was 2 months as informed by the SA. Delivery Day
Fast forward to 1 month later. One fine day, I got a call from the SA that the car had arrived at the stockyard. And I was like "WOW, 1 month early !!!" I immediately got the VIN details and told the SA to get the car to the dealership as the stockyard was outside the city. I was bit skeptical though when he said that a driver will drive the car all the way from stockyard to the dealership. That's approx. 25 kms. But somehow it arrived safely. The next day I went to checkout the car. Man it looked beautiful !!! The dazzling white color against the contrasting black bits and the red accents at the front lip and side skirts. Just perfect. I did carry a PDI list and did all the necessary checks and finalized the car for delivery.
On the D-day, me, my sister and my brother-in-law went. All paper works were done, loan processed and the car ready for delivery. The car was under a curtain, I pulled the curtain and the beauty revealed itself. I was grinning from ear to ear and my sister and BIL couldn't stop laughing. The SA then gave a basic walkthrough of the car which I couldn't hear much as my mind was occupied with getting my hands on the beauty. After everything, I jumped into the driver's seat, gave my thanks to the almighty and asked for blessings before my first drive. Took the car straight to the temple, did the customary puja and brought the car home. I couldn't help that evening but to visit to the parking just to check out the car from time to time. I was itching to drive it. Driving Experience
After driving for 2 months and close to 1500 kms, I have just one statement for it - "The Car is an absolute gem".
The 6-Speed IMT Transmission (The highlight of this experience) - This transmission is a matter of getting used to. For the initial 5 - 6 kms of the first drive, my left foot fumbled between the dead pedal and the empty space of the clutch during gear shifts or when coming to a halt. But once past that learning curve, the transmission isn't a problem. I can say this because when I switch to MT cars even for a day in between, it is the same learning curve again in the manual for the first 5 - 6 kms and then I am good to go. The transmission is a bit notchy when shifting from 1st to 2nd even when I lift my foot off the accelerator but after that shifts are smooth. Good thing is that the gear shift slots well and are reassuring. Though I have to admit, they are a bit slow. You shift a gear, it takes a fraction of a second to actually shift and the car moving in the next gear. Nothing like a perfect traditional manual shift.It does auto rev match on the downshifts which are slow again. But surprisingly the gear shifts to 4th, 5th & 6th gears are a tad faster in shifts than 1st, 2nd & 3rd. Overall I would say its a good transmission, my left leg thanks me always in the traffic.
Coming to the Engine, the 1.0 turbocharged TGDI motor is a delight to drive. The power begins once you cross 1600 - 1700 rpm. Below that it is bearable if only 1 - 2 persons are there in the car. But if it is a full house or 1 - 2 persons with luggage, that's when the turbo lag is felt badly as the progress below these rpms is very slow and lazy, you may need to downshift here. The mid-range is quite strong and the car pulls ahead swiftly once above 1700 rpm mark. There is no push back feel but the acceleration and pull remains brisk. One the highways if you are above 1700 rpm you just need to put your foot down and the car will start pulling even in the 5th or 6th cog.
The Steering has great feel and feedback. It is quite direct and I know what the car is doing and pointing at when I give even slightest of inputs. It centers well almost 95% and the last 5% needs to be done manually. I have driven the car on a few short highway drives and the it drives like a mature car with no surprises.
The Suspension on the car has been tuned to be stiff. It can be felt if you manage to go through a medium sized speed bump on the uppers of 20 - 25 kmph. It thuds through badly and feel like the suspension is gonna break (it won't but it just feels like that). So you have to be slow on speed bumps. Slow speed rides can be a bit harsh due to stiff suspension but nothing uncomfortable. With the correct tyre pressures around 33 psi, the ride is quite comfortable. The suspension comes to its stride once the car moves above 35 - 40 kmph. It is somehow more absorbent at higher speeds and some potholes don't thud through as much at lower speeds I felt. The ride then is quite supple.
Coming to other features, the projector headlights are quite powerful and does a great job at lighting the way ahead in city or on highways. Even during the dusk and dawn hours or on streets with streetlights, the lights do a good job. If I have to compare with the projectors from S-Cross (as I have driven that only) the i20 does a better job in my opinion in this headlight department.
The Infotainment is a delight to use. It is quite smooth and the touch response is on point and not vague that you have to tap multiple times. The Bose speaker system and the subwoofer are the showstoppers here for me. They are excellent speakers one can get in a car of this segment. One nitpicking though, the volume from the rear door speakers is a bit low.
The Instrument cluster is good and easy to use. The TPMS has been accurate all the time till now. One highly useful thing in the instrument cluster is that when you use the navigation system, it shows directions and distance to the next turn in the MID which is really helpful as I don't have to take my eyes off the road for long.
I think I will terminate this already long post here. The overall ownership experience of the i20 N Line IMT has been brilliant till now. Here are some pictures of the beauty. I have named her the WhitePearl (inspiration from the Black Pearl in POTC
Here are a few pictures of the car: