Hyundai i10 review

Hyundai's second generation i10 gets the basics right and leaves city car rivals to fight it out over who's the trendiest. June Neary takes a look.

Will It Suit Me?

I might well be revealing myself as a bit of a grumpy old woman here but exactly who was it that decided small cars had to be 'funky'? It seems that every new city car that pops up on the market is either swathed in retro design themes, pursuing some futuristic styling concept or comes in the most lurid array of colour schemes imaginable. Sometimes it's a baffling combination of all three. Now, despite not quite fitting into the target demographic for such vehicles, I like to think that I appreciate a trendy little city car as much as the next person. I'll admit that properly executed, the fashionable small can work very well but do they all have to try so hard? Hyundai's i10 is refreshing in that it isn't a slave to fashion and that's why I always though that we'd get on famously. The second generation i10 model we look at here, like its predecessor, is a city car just like the Fiat 500, the Ford Ka, the Toyota iQ, the smart ForTwo, the Mitsubishi Mirage and countless others. What's different is that it's a throwback to how city cars used to be. By that, I mean like a bigger car but small. Hyundai hasn't bothered creating a lifestyle statement with mountains of personalisation options, a viral marketing campaign and its own branded pop concerts. Hyundai has made a practical and well built small car that it's selling at an affordable price. What's not to like?

Practicalities

The i10 has one of the longest wheelbases in its class, helping with ride comfort while also maximising the amount of room in side this compact citycar. This model's long wheelbase has been achieved by pushing the wheels right into the corners of the car so as not to increase overall length by too much. It's a bigger thing than its predecessor, body changes adding 80mm to the length and 65mm to the width. It sits 50mm lower too, helping it avoid the Noddy-car look of many citycars. The arced sill finisher on the flanks is an idea that looks to have been cribbed from Renault but works extremely well in giving the sides some shape and depth. The i10's cabin might be slightly dull compared to citycar rivals but the design is simple and appealing. The vibrancy and ingenuity that characterises the best small car interiors doesn't appear to be in evidence but Hyundai looks to have concentrated on getting the fundamentals right. Build quality is strong and the clear design of the controls helps give the i10 a classy, mature feel. Getting childseats in through the wide opening rear doors is surprisingly easy and chocolate marks were relatively straightforward to wipe off the seat fabric. Inside, the i10 offers best-in-class legroom and cargo capacity. Front and rear passengers benefit from combined legroom of 1,890mm, while boot capacity has been boosted by more than 10 per cent to 252-litres with all seats in place. By contrast, a Skoda Citigo offers 251-litres, so Hyundai just squeaks in above the class benchmark.

Behind the Wheel

This little Hyundai doesn't feel particularly lively on the road but it's easy to drive and manoeuvrable with better comfort levels than you'd expect in a car this small. A choice of 1.0 or 1.2-litre petrol engines is available. The 1.2 is a four-cylinder unit that offers 87PS, making the car good for 62mph in 12.3s on the way to 106mph. Customers are also offered a 66PS 1.0-litre engine at the entry level which makes 62mph in 14.9s on the way to 96mph. There's still no diesel engine offered and it's probably a sound decision. Buyers of this type of car rarely rack up enough miles to make the incremental cost of buying a diesel work out versus the savings they'd see in fuel bills. The latest model has targeted improving refinement as a key priority. The suspension has been given a thorough working over to improve ride quality and reduce noise. The longer wheelbase and better quality relocated dampers will help here, improving body control over road imperfections.

Value For Money

Pricing starts affordably at around £8,500 and there's a choice of three trim levels - S, SE and Premium - and at SE level, there's an extra £500 to pay if you want the 1.2-litre engine rather than the 1.0-litre unit. At entry-level, you get the basics - central locking, electric front windows, CD tuner + USB, Daytime Running Lights, ISOfix and tilt adjust steering wheel as standard. And, for another £650, you can also have air conditioning. Further up the range, the sort of features that were once the preserve of cars from a class or two above have now filtered down into the city car sector, so expect to find things like automatic climate control, a heated leather steering wheel and cruise control with speed limiter - dependent on which trim level you choose. There are also safety features which include standard-fit stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and front curtain airbags.

Could I Live With One?

Some people will bemoan the fact the i10 city car from Hyundai doesn't display the youthful vibrancy and stylish design found in some of the leading city car products. Others will love it for precisely that reason. This is a straightforward small car refreshingly lacking in gimmicks. It's good to drive, well-built and neatly designed without resorting to outlandish colours or gimmicky detailing. There are increasingly few small cars like the i10 and that can only play into Hyundai's hands.