We road test the newest addition to Hyundai’s growing family – the Bayon baby SUV…
I feel a bit sorry for the Hyundai Bayon. Not only has it been saddled with a name* which means nothing to most UK buyers, but it was introduced at around the same time as Hyundai’s acclaimed Ioniq 5 EV and Tucson SUV.
In other words, this worthy compact crossover – which will do battle with the likes of the Nissan Juke, Seat Arona, Ford Puma, Renault Captur and Skoda Kamiq – missed out on the launch limelight.
First impressions are mixed. Let’s be charitable and describe the design as bold. A huge grille sits below thin headlights, there are sharp creases down the side and it has an angular rear end with tall tail-lights and a thin horizontal light bar.
Inside, it’s much the same as the i20 hatchback, the car on which the Bayon is based. The dashboard is attractive enough and sensibly laid out with top versions getting a pair of clear and crisp 10.25-inch digital screens – a digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel and a central touchscreen which takes care of media, navigation and car settings.
Naturally, it’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible, while Hyundai’s BlueLink smartphone app allows owners to connect with the car remotely, checking its location, status and sending routes to the sat nav for their next journey.
The Bayon range is priced from £20,530 and there are three trim levels offered: SE Connect, Premium and Ultimate.
There’s only one engine available – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol (99bhp or 118bhp) with the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission.
The engine has 48-volt mild hybrid assistance and the more powerful version paired with the auto gearbox is capable of a 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. Fuel consumption is as high as 53.3mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 119g/km.
My 118bhp test car in Ultimate spec came with a six-speed manual transmission and a ticket price of £24,780.
Top trim means there’s plenty of kit, including black gloss door mirrors, two-tone black roof, keyless entry and a Bose sound system, on top of the rear view camera, privacy glass, heated front seats and steering wheel found on entry-level models.
There’s lots of safety and driver assistance equipment too including AEB (autonomous emergency braking), Blind Spot Collison Warning and Lane Follow Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and automatic high beams. Ford the record, it achieved a creditable four out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The Bayon is surprisingly spacious inside with room for two adults in the back, though space for your feet below the front seats is limited. The boot is a reasonable 334 litres, expanding to 1,205 litres with the rear seats flipped down, and there are smaller storage spaces dotted around the cabin.
My only gripe is that there’s too much scratchy, hard plastic used around the cabin.
I’m glad I was able to try the clever manual gearbox, which is marketed as an intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT).
Apparently, there’s no physical link between the clutch pedal and the clutch and it allows the engine to switch off temporarily while coasting, reducing emissions and saving fuel.
The system seems to work well enough on the move, though sometimes there is a hesitation with the stop-start when engaging first gear in slow moving traffic.
That said, the clutch is light, and the gear lever has a pleasant short throw, even if it is a bit notchy at times.
The engine is more punchy than the performance figures suggest, and more importantly for many, it’s smooth and refined when up to speed.
You can choose between three drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport). Eco is fine for motorway runs on cruise control (50mpg is achievable), but Normal is the best all-rounder and will do just fine, because Sport simply adds weight to the steering.
With its light controls and raised driving position, the Bayon makes sense as an urban crossover choice.
It would be wrong to call its firm ride sophisticated, but it’s comfortable enough.
It’s light up front, so grip level is moderate in the wet or on a loose surface, but overall it handles well and body control is decent. So, while it’s not as engaging to drive as some rivals, it ticks plenty of boxes for most buyers.
Verdict: The Hyundai Bayon is an honest, competitively priced, boldly-styled new entrant in the busy compact crossover segment. Well equipped, easy to drive, practical and economical, it comes with an appealing five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
*Just so you know, the Bayon name is inspired by Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country in the south-west of France.