One of the, albeit small, problems of being in the motoring journalism field is that people ask you what car they should buy. Apart from a Perodua, all cars are relatively good these days. And apart from a Perodua, there’s no car that is frankly diabolical any more. It all comes down to taste. So it is hard for me to tell you what car you should buy, because while I might like the looks of the Renault Clio, you might prefer a Volkswagen Polo. And that is fine.

A few weeks ago, however, someone phoned me up asking what car they should buy. I therefore launched into the above paragraph, and felt quite pleased with myself. At this point most people smile and agree – but not this person. ‘Yes, but what do you think I should buy?’ they said.

In the interest of getting them off of the phone I replied – without much thought it turned out – ‘Ohhh… a Ford Fiesta.’

‘But I had heard the Hyundai i20 is pretty good,’ they wined, ‘What makes the Fiesta better than the i20?’

I was stumped. I simply couldn’t give a reply. So, to give them an answer, I borrowed one from Hyundai.

Prices for the i20 start at a measly £9,520, which is remarkably good value as it comes with electric windows, air conditioning, ESP, six airbags, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, and Aux In capability. My one, however, was the £10,340 1.2-litre Comfort model which, on top of the aforementioned, came with alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, electric rear windows, heated and electrically folding door mirrors, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and USB connection.

How did it drive?  Well, in fact. The ride was bouncy in a comfortable but not in a scary at all sort of way, and the 77bhp 1.2-lire engine was delightfully zippy and rev-happy. It was ideal for city use but, on the M4 on my way to Wales, the 1.2 capabilities were limited. It could easily do 70mph but it felt rather strained and stressed – like Gillian McKeith trapped in a wheelie bin full of spiders, for instance.

The seats became painful after three hours though, but most i20 owners would not be going to Wales and back again so the seats would be comfortable enough to pop to shops. And the dash though plain and uninspiring, was well screwed together and could easily put up with student abuse.

Looks wise, well… it looks like a Vauxhall Corsa which is certainly no bad thing as that is quite a good looking car, but the gearbox however was dreadful. Selecting reverse became a shriek-filled experience from both the gear cogs and me, but that was the only real bad point.

So would I recommend this car to my phone caller and you, dear students over the benchmark – the perennial Ford Fiesta?

On first impressions, no I wouldn’t. The Fiesta adds just a little more excitement and style to the mix. But that comes at a price . £3000 to be exact. For the same level of specification as the i20 you have to splash out on a whole 3 grand more, and that is just too much to bare. And the Hyundai comes with a five-year warranty.

There we are then; I’ve told you a car you should buy.

Merry Christmas.


Scores: 7/10

What’s good: It does the job

What’s bad: It does the job

On the radio: Would I Lie To You?