Road Test: Hyundai i10 1.25 SE
Sector: City car Price: £9,995 Fuel: 57.6mpg CO2: 114g/km
The Hyundai i10 may compete in the smallest sector of the market, but customer expectations of a city car are so high that it’s also one of the most demanding.
A great city car has to be cheap to buy and run, spacious, manoeuvrable and fun to drive, and it also has to look cute to compete with the best in the sector. It’s a lot of boxes for something so small to tick.
The old i10 left some big shoes to fill. This was the car which put a void between the modern Hyundai range and the dowdy Atoz which came beforehand, but it says a lot for the manufacturer’s recent design revolution that it had started to look a little dated against the newest in the range.
This doesn’t. Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, the new i10 looks considerably more modern, and hunkered down to the road. It shares its chassis with the much-praised Kia Picanto, and the engines are also carried over from its cousin.
With improvements to bodyshell rigidity, the i10 feels altogether more grown up to drive. The electric power steering is quick to respond, body roll is minimal and the turning circle is tight, aiding inner-city manoeuvrability.
It’s definitely worth trying both engines, as the 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine lacks the in-gear punchiness of the less powerful 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit and needs to be revved to extract the best performance. With both engines offering adequate motorway performance, the smaller unit in 98g/km SE Blue Drive spec is the pick of the range.
Interior space has, predictably, grown slightly between generations – not only because of the longer, wider platform, but also because of better packaging. The i10’s gearbox has moved forward slightly to free up a little more space, and the cabin feels surprisingly large for what is a small car from the outside. Boot space, at 252 litres with the rear seats upright, or 1,046 litres with them folded, is said to be best in class.
Hyundai’s design eye has been cast over the interior, too. Body-coloured accents on the dashboard and seats go a long way to brighten up what is, in line with the class, a fairly basic interior. The i10 is expected to attract a top-heavy demand for trim levels, hinting at an audience who aren’t only buying based on price. SE models, as tested here, feature equipment such as USB and auxiliary connections and rear electric windows, but Bluetooth is an unusual omission, reserved for the top-spec Premium version.
So the i10 has advanced as much between generations as the original car did compared to the Atoz. This is a tough sector with some excellent newcomers on the way over the next 12 months but, particularly with the three-cylinder engine, Hyundai makes a good case for itself.
With good looks and high practicality, the i10 has the right ingredients for a demanding segment. Shedding the four-cylinder 1.25-litre engine for a more powerful version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder would be helpful for bringing running costs down though.