Hyundai i10 review
Third generation Hyundai i10 has what it takes to beat the best in class, with a refined, mature and value-packed package
The previous Hyundai i10 broke into the mainstream thanks to generous discounts afforded by the government’s car scrappage scheme. But the new model is a world away from its cheap and cheerful predecessor. Longer, wider and lower than before, the new i10 offers big car features in a small package, complimented by a driving experience that’ll make you think you’re driving a much bigger model. Two petrol engines are available – a 65bhp 1.0-litre three cylinder or 86bhp 1.2-litre four – with the former being the pick thanks to its impressive mechanical refinement, fuel economy and rev-happy nature. For 2014, Hyundai has ditched the trim names of Classic, Active and Style in favour of S, SE and Premium, but standard equipment is still decent, with all models getting central locking, a USB connection, and ISOFIX mountings for a child seat.
Our choice: Hyundai i10 1.0 SE
The new Hyundai i10 wears the brand's corporate ‘fluidic scuplture’ design language quite well. However, like sister brand Kia, the design theme tends to work better on larger cars. The nose is dominated by a trapezoidal grille jutting forward, but the look is a little on the bland side, unless you opt for a top-spec car with boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights. It’s better in profile, with a curvy bodyside similar to the latest Renault Clio, and an upkicked C-pillar graphic, while the tail is its best angle, with the concave curves of the tailgate looking a bit like the latest BMW 1 Series. The overall look can’t match the cool, industrial style of the VW up! and its sister cars, but it’s a big step forward from its predecessor. Inside, the dashboard is well laid out and functional, if not the most exciting design, although you can lift this with one of four contrasting colours that match whichever exterior paint finish you opt for.
Hyundai claims buyers of A-segment cars care the least about how these cars drive. But it’s good to know that the i10 is still great fun to take for a spin. The 1.0-litre engine thrums along nicely, but thanks to lots of sound deadening in the bulkhead and doors, it’s never intrusive. It’s a little on the slow side, but as long as you anticipate moves or inclines ahead, you won’t struggle to keep up with traffic. This is less of an issue with the 1.2-litre engine, which has more power and torque. All models have a slick five-speed gearbox – there's no automatic - and disc brakes all round, giving good stopping power. The ride is very impressive, and has a supple feel of a much larger car. It’s quite a soft set up, so there’s some roll in corners, but the trade-off is a comfy ride. It’s a town car, so the turning circle is tight, and the steering is light and direct.
Both engines are carried over from before, albeit in improved forms, so shouldn’t pose too many problems. If they do, as with all new Hyundai’s the i10 is covered by a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, which also includes five years of breakdown cover. The new i10 is built from 20 per cent more high-strength steel, making the bodyshell stronger, while all cars have six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and stability control as standard. The i10 was designed and developed in Europe, and is built in an upgraded factory in Turkey, with Hyundai claiming the i10 has what it takes to cope with everything a European buyer can throw at it.
For a car with such compact dimensions, the i10 boasts considerable cabin and boot space. Up front, all models from SE and above get a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and all cars have a steering wheel that adjusts for rake but not reach. All cars are five-door only, and its four doors open wide, and feature a bottle holder. There are also cupholders in the centre console, a storage area and USB socket in the dash, and a good-sized glovebox. Head and legroom is a little tight for tall rear-seat passengers, but adults could easily make short trips in the rear in comfort. The rear seats split 60:40, and the seat bases flip up to allow the rear seat backs to fold flat. That gives a 1,046-litre load space, which is reduced to a class-leading 252-litre boot with the rear seats up. The boot is deep and the tailgate opening is wide, making it easy to load luggage.
No i10 should be particularly expensive to buy or run, with its price and equipment levels competitive in the segment. In standard form, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine returns 60.1mpg and emits 108g/km of CO2. This improves to 61.4mpg and 106g/km if you opt for the stop-start equipped model, or goes up to 47.1mpg and 137g/km if you take the four-speed automatic gearbox. If economy is a priority, there’s a 1.0-litre BlueDrive model, which is available as a manual and in SE trim only. It returns a claimed 65.7mpg and 98g/km. The 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine isn’t essential, but offers extra power. However, mpg falls to 57.6mpg with a manual gearbox (45.6mpg with an auto) and CO2 rises to 114g/km and 142g/km respectively. The i10 insurance group figures have yet to be revealed.