Hyundai i10 review
Hyundai's i10 city car is one of the best in the class, offering space, efficiency and refinement to rival cars from the class above
Hyundai's latest i10 is a world away from the cheap-and-cheerless offerings of the company's past. Designed to rival the Skoda Citigo, VW up!, Toyota Aygo and Kia Picanto, the Korean city car has evolved into an excellent all-rounder that majors on big-car feel and quality.
The second-generation i10 features the same compact footprint, low running costs and long list of standard equipment as its predecessor. It might be a bit characterless from the outside, but step into the cabin and there's a significant jump up in quality.
The first i10 was hardly cramped, but this model is even more spacious despite the sleeker look. There’s enough room for five adults at a push – unlike the four-seat Skoda Citigo, the i10 gets a trio of three-point belts in the back – and the boot will swallow a useful 252 litres of luggage.
Two engines are available in petrol form only - a 65bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder and an 86bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder. Both deliver decent performance and strong fuel economy, but the smooth and eager 1.0-litre is our pick thanks to its lower CO2 emissions and refinement. Both powerplants are mated to a slick five-speed manual gearbox, while the 1.2-litre engine is available with a five-speed automatic transmission as an option.
Light controls, excellent visibility and compact dimensions make the Hyundai i10 a breeze to thread through crowded city streets, yet it feels equally composed and assured out on the open road. The handling is safe and predictable, while on the motorway road, wind and engine noise are kept in check – although it’s not quite as refined as the SEAT Mii.
Hyundai has chosen a straightforward model line-up, with buyers able to choose from S, S Air, SE, SE Blue Drive, Premium and Premium SE versions. All Hyundai i10 models get electric front windows, remote central locking, a trip computer and a USB connection for the stereo, while S Air models and above add air-conditioning. SE models are further kitted out with cruise control, electrically operated door mirrors and alloy wheels. Range-topping Premium models are given a luxurious feel courtesy a leather trimmed steering wheel and gearlever, and Bluetooth phone and music streaming.
The Blue Drive model is based on the SE, but is stripped of air-con and split/fold rear seat in and effort to save weight and get the car’s CO2 emissions down to 98g/km – all other models are above 100g/km.
Finally, as with all Hyundai models, the i10 is backed by a generous five year, unlimited mileage warranty that also includes five years of breakdown recovery. Further adding to the car’s appealing ownership proposition is a fixed price servicing pack that covers three years’ of maintenance for just £349.
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, there’s a choice of bright blue, orange beige or red metallic look finishes for the dash, gearlever surround and seat trim. And while these bold colour choices won’t be to all tastes, there’s no denying they add character to the cabin. A USB connection, trip computer and electric front windows feature on all i10 models, plus SE adds air-con, electric rear windows and electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors. Bluetooth is a £175 option, but we’d expect this to be standard on a car that’s clearly aimed at younger drivers.
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 set the Volkswagen up! as its benchmark for dynamics.
The MkII i10 is far more refined than before, thanks to its smooth and 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 car from the class above.
Like the Skoda, the Hyundai has a slightly firm low-speed ride, 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.
Once up to speed the ride is smooth, and is balanced out by 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. As a result the Hyundai 10 feels composed and capable through a series of corners.
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 models are also 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. Five year ago you'd be happy with that amount from a larger supermini.
And unlike the Skoda Citigo and its VW and SEAT cousins, the Hyundai i10 is a full five-seater, with the rear bench getting a trio of three-point seatbelts.
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 five-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. However, these figures come at the expense of desirable kit, such as air-conditioning. The 1.2-litre four-cylinder feels more muscular out on the road, but there isn’t enough of a performance advantage to justify its higher price and slightly higher running costs. For instance, its mpg and CO2 figures are falls to 57.6mpg and 114g/km for the manual, and 45.6mpg and 142g/km for the five-speed automatic.
Still, all engines are available with Hyundai’s fixed priced servicing package, which covers the first three years of maintenance for just £349. And if you’re planning on keeping your i10 a little longer, then you can opt for the £649 five-year plan.