Road Test: Hyundai i10 N Line
Could the mild-spice N Line i10 be all the car you’ll ever need? Jonathan Musk investigates.
SECTOR A-segment hatchback PRICE £16,695-£18,245 FUEL 52.3mpg CO2 123g/km
Everyone loves a hot hatch, but not so many will be enthralled by the prospects of a luke-warm one – and that’s what the i10 N Line is, despite appearing to be a part of Hyundai’s full-fat N range of performance hatchbacks.
It’s powered by a perky 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo T-GDi engine kicking out 100hp and 172Nm torque, which is plenty of pep to drive it to 62mph from standstill in 10.5 seconds onto a top speed of 106mph. Clearly, it’s more of a show car than an actual performance machine, but that’s not to suggest for a second that it can’t reward with giggles aplenty. The only thing holding it back is a relatively lacklustre five-speed gearbox that misses a racy knife-edge shift transition, and the engine’s overweight flywheel that clings onto revs like Trump to an insult. Regardless, if you’re gentle through the gears and row the gearbox along, the rest of the car’s setup rewards with fun suspension that joyfully skips about B-roads with aplomb.
Being a part of the N Line family means it also comes with a modicum of sophistication too, including sporty accents to be found on the front bumper design plus bi-function headlights and front fogs and the obligatory N Line emblem and LED Daytime running lights. Meanwhile, inside the cabin there’s privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate as well as a few sporting accents – and that’s about your lot. The Tech Pack commands a rather dear £1k to add navigation, wireless mobile phone charging and speed limit warning to the 8-inch standard dumb display. Don’t opt in and you can make use of your own mobile phone, although we found that this proved slightly problematic thanks to the use of older USB 2.0 ports despite accepting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. A single USB-C port would have been a nice addition.
Despite the minor foibles, the N Line is a genuinely interesting car to drive and it satisfies that grey area of cars that neither falls into undesirable/boring performance or overly ambitious hot hatch thrills. This is its niche and it makes it every bit as much fun as more powerful cars. Drive it as hard as you like, be rewarded by the thrumming engine note and you’ll never break the speed limit yet you’ll enjoy the same satisfaction smiles as cars costing twice as much – and of course you benefit from the everyday joys that the regular i10 offers too.
Unfortunately for Hyundai, Volkswagen has revived the up! GTI and at similar or even less money, it’s hard to love the i10 N Line over it – the up! gets a sixth gear for long journey refinement and enjoys a more punchy 115hp engine and better performance accordingly.
However, the i10 benefits from a raft of technology that’s not immediately obvious based on its driving credentials alone, including: Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, High Beam Assist and Forward Collision Warning System with integrated Autonomous Emergency Braking and eCall, to name but a few.
Could do with more power to make it really top notch, but there’s plenty still to enjoy about Hyundai’s smallest N Line.
Key Fleet Model: Hyundai i10 N Line 1.0 T-GDi 100PS Manual
Strengths: Frugal fun, laden with big-car technology
Weaknesses: Needs another gear and a bit more power
Fleet World Star Rating