The fluidic design of the HB20 has impressed Brazilians greatly. The car has already broken into the top 10, and Hyundai claims there are 24 thousand people who have already ordered one and have plunked down some money. Undeniably, the car is a looker. In my opinion, the side is the highlight. That swoosh is very appealing. As for the front, you either like the corporate mug or you don’t, and I don’t. The back has some problems. This is a problem in Brazil. We are into backs. This one makes the car look narrower and taller than it really is and some of the lines are clashing. In general, the car is well-built, but it’s not perfect. The example I drove had misaligned doors.
Inside, Hyundai promised that the HB20 would be competitive with higher segment cars. At first glance it is. The shapes and some color are there. However, after a more tha perfunctory glance, the plastics reveal themselves. They are hard and look cheap. They’re no fun to touch, either.
The seats are ok, but the fabric on them is cheaper than on competitors and even on lesser cars. The switchgear is not a notch above the competition, as Hyundai has claimed. Those found in a Volkswagen Gol, for example, feel more solid.
I had been to the dealer. I had sat in a few. Finally, I got to drive it. Equipped with the same 120 hp present in other Hyundai-Kia products and a 5 speed manual, the car never felt specially lively or obedient. The steering lacks almost any feel and I felt it was quite tiring for anything but city driving. Push the car over 90 km/h (56 mph) and it gets so light that I didn’t feel I wanted more.
The car does not want to be pushed. It creaks. It shakes. It moans. Moans. The suspension arms are too short for Brazil， and it reaches its limit (with a thud) at almost every speed bump at almost any speed. Minor potholes turn into major problems. In the twisties the car feelks like it wants to roll over. There’s no point driving the car hard, it’s not built for that. In the city, drive with care, or the car’s protestations will be your constant companion.
The engine of course has been flexibilized for Brazil. This means it’ll run on ethanol or Brazilian gas. It’s a little gruff when at higher RPMs and the sounds it makes are not really enticing. An owner of the car reported that he’s getting the same mileage as he did on his 1.6 Sandero, roughly 8km/l on gas and 6km/l on ethanol in heavy (and hilly) city driving. As far as Brazilian cars go, that’s about average.
So there you have it, the Hyundai HB20. If you want a car to show off to the neighbors and drive slowly around the city, this is the car for you. If, however, you like driving and enjoy the occasional romp, you will be much better served elsewhere.