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 Hyundai i10 has always been a sensible city car choice, with its blend of practicality, reliability and solid build quality. This new, sharply styled second-generation model aims to inject a dose of desirability, without losing its predecessor’s sensible appeal. As before, it’s only available as a five-door, with a familiar line-up of 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines.
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
Hyundai has worked hard to boost the i10’s kerb appeal, providing it with some of the same head-turning styling cues as the brand’s i30 hatchback and Santa Fe SUV. That means you get a bold trapezoidal front grille, swept-back headlamps and eye-catching creases set into the car’s flanks.
The SE model features simple plastic wheel trims as standard, but even so it looks more expensive than the slightly plain Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii. If you want an even more upmarket feel, then the range-topping Premium model adds 14-inch alloys, eye-catching LED daytime running lights and side repeater indicators set into the door mirror housings.
The Hyundai’s grown-up appeal continues inside, where you’ll find a smartly designed dash, top-notch materials and excellent build quality.
For instance, our test car came with a bright blue metallic finish for the dash, gearlever surround and seat trim, while beige, red or orange trim is available as a no-cost option. A USB connection, trip computer and electric front windows feature on all i10 models, plus our SE adds air-con, electric rear windows and electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors. Bluetooth is a £175 extra and cruise control costs £50.
All versions get a height-adjustable steering wheel, while SE models and above benefit from the same function for the driver’s seat. Combined with the high-mounted gearlever, this makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Head out on the road in the new i10 and it’s clear Hyundai has learned lessons from the Volkswagen up!. The MkII city car now sets the standard for refinement, thanks to its smooth, unobtrusive three-cylinder engine, minimal wind noise and well insulated suspension. In fact, on the motorway you could be tricked into thinking you’re in a much larger car.
Like the Skoda, the Hyundai is hobbled by a low-speed ride that causes it to thump into potholes. Yet it hasn’t lost its appeal in town, where the combination of a high-set driving position, excellent visibility and light controls makes driving and parking a breeze – plus you can specify £195 rear parking sensors for extra peace of mind.
The trade-off for this stiff set-up is agile handling. The electrically assisted steering doesn’t feel as naturally weighted as the Skoda Citigo’s, but it’s direct and accurate, plus there’s much more grip than in the Fiat Panda.
Hyundai has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, and the brand scooped a respectable 18th-place finish in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey - but that was a fall of four places from 2013.
The company’s cars scored particularly highly for reliability, with the ix35 crossover taking fourth place in this category. And as the new i10 uses updated versions of the old car’s durable engines, you can expect trouble-free service.
Safety has been given top priority in the new i10, meaning all cars get six airbags, electronic stability control and tyre pressure monitoring. However, unlike the Panda and Citigo, there’s no option to add hi-tech low-speed collision-avoidance kit.
Unfortunately the Hyundai i10 only scored four out of five stars for safety in the Euro NCAP crash tests, being marked down in the safety assist category.
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.
Look around the interior and you’ll spot plenty of useful cubby space. For instance, the doorbins are handily shaped, with room for a 1.5-litre bottle of water, plus there’s a deep cubby ahead of the gearlever that also contains the USB and aux-in connections.
The well shaped boot offers a handy 252 litres of space, which increases to 1,046 litres with the 60:40 split rear bench folded.
Like its predecessor, the new i10 doesn’t cost a lot to buy, and it won’t cost a lot to run.
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.