First Drive: Hyundai i10
Stuffed full of equipment, the i10 aims to make the city car relevant again, finds Jonathan Musk.
SECTOR City car PRICE £12,495-£15,495 FUEL 52.3-56.5mpg CO2 101-105g/km
The latest Hyundai i10 is the third generation of the popular city car, which benefits from a raft of improvements that help make it more refined and feel grown up.
Benefiting from a host of upgrades and updates all round, and a multitude of standard equipment that’s not available from its competitors, the i10 has big ideas.
That’s interesting in itself, as other manufacturers are winding down their A-segment operations, with the likes of the Citroën, Peugeot and Toyota tie-up coming to an end with their trio of C1, 108 and Aygo cars respectively. Conversely, Volkswagen Group has recently refreshed its range of up!, Mii and CITIGO cars with electric power – something oddly absent from the new baby Hyundai. The reason given for the lack of electrification is that Hyundai doesn’t currently feel small EVs are saleabie, despite committing to an otherwise comprehensive EV strategy.
Small cars used to be a bread and butter segment, but with today’s SUV trend and low-cost financing and leasing available for larger offerings, the small car has taken a hit.
To keep people interested in the i10, Hyundai has ensured it ticks a lot of boxes with a spec sheet that reads like an Argos catalogue. For starters, it comes with five seats, which has become a rarity in this class, and this is aided by an extra 40mm wheelbase that ensures usable rear legroom.
Base-level S trim has been dropped from the line-up too, meaning the entry-level SE comes with niceties including DAB radio, 3.8” display, Bluetooth, A/C, electric windows, leather steering wheel and cruise control, to name but a few.
Not only that, but the car is stuffed with safety equipment too, including Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Warning System and AEB – the latter of which was disappointingly dropped from the revised Volkswagen Group up!, Mii and CITIGO. Other trims include SE Connect, which would be our middle-ground pick of the bunch, and the Premium trim, which adds 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lamps, heated seats and steering wheel and a few design accents. Worth mentioning is the as-yet unavailable i10 N-Line, which will offer around 100hp of small car fun, as well as more sporting design flourishes.
Engine choices for now include the petrol-only 1.0-litre 67hp or 1.2-litre MPI 84hp petrol, as well as the choice between a five-speed manual or, frankly, amusing automated manual transmission (AMT). The latter is worth mentioning only because its lamentable gear changes offer surprising amusement and in all fairness it does the job.
The 1.0-litre is the pick of the pair, benefiting from an archetypal three-cylinder character and only minor reductions in performance compared to the more expensive 1.2-litre four-cylinder. That said, when the going gets tough, or motorway speeds are required, both struggle to perform. The five-speed box is largely at blame here, with its relatively low ratios keeping revs high when cruising. Nonetheless, the ride is comfortable and reasonably quiet for a small car and the shrill-free engine note means it is barely noticeable.
There’s a lot to be said for the i10, which manages to offer big-car equipment and efficient engines in an appealing package.
KEY FLEET MODEL: Hyundai i10 SE Connect, 1.0 MPI, manual
STRENGTHS: Generous standard equipment
WEAKNESSES: No electrified version
FW Star Rating