What does disappoint is the ride comfort. There’s none of the Ford Fiesta’s wondrous balance of handling finesse and damper pliancy, here; instead (on the standard 17in alloys of our test car) you get a fairly wooden-feeling ride that has the Hyundai jarring heavily into potholes and fidgeting uneasily at high speeds.
The steering isn’t conducive to an enjoyable drive, either. Sure, it has a meaty weight to it that makes for good mid-corner bite, and there’s enough grip from the front end, but there’s no sense of connection and it feels vague in general. There’s just none of the light-footed, corner-hungry turn-in that you can revel in with a Ford Fiesta or Suzuki Swift Sport.
Still, the i20 Coupé is quite refined on a steady throttle, and with a decent driving position and more advanced touchscreen multimedia and nav system than you get in most rivals, there’s clearly still appeal. You even get a reversing camera as standard, on top of the auto lights and wipers, heated door mirrors and climate control that are included, even on cheaper mid-spec Sport trim.
For those designated-driver moments, two average-size adults will be fine in the back behind similarly sized front occupants when they’ve squeezed through the fairly small gap between the door pillar and tilted-forward front seat. You can seat three on the rear bench, but the middle passenger will be disgruntled to say the least.
The boot’s a respectable size – bigger than those of most rivals - and you get a standard variable-height boot floor, as well as the default 60/40 split folding rear seats.
Should I buy one?
Only if you’re tied to getting the lowest possible insurance rating, since the group 11 classification of the Hyundai is usefully lower than that of the Ford Fiesta Zetec S Ecoboost 125 or Suzuki Swift Sport that would be our first choices in the mildly sporting small hatchback fraternity.
It's also worth pointing out that the list price of the three-door Suzuki is also much cheaper at £1500 less (albeit without a touchscreen system), and both of these alternatives are noticeably faster and vastly more fun.
Simply put, for those who might actively want a sporty-looking car that puts safety ahead of performance and enthusiastic handling, the Hyundai has clear benefits. Step forward parents shopping for their teen's first car, because Hyundai has answered your prayers.
Otherwise, the Suzuki and Ford, or indeed the Mini Cooper or DS 3 that are also very competitive here, are much more to our taste and likely to be much more to yours, too.
Hyundai i20 Coupé 1.0-T GDi 120 Sport Nav
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £15,700; Engine 3 cyls, 998cc, turbocharged; Power 118bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 126lb ft at 1500-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1217kg; Top speed 118mph; 0-62mph 10.2sec; Economy 58.9mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 112g/km, 17%