Hyundai i10 SE: long-term test review

10 Dec, 2014 2:15pm Dean Gibson

City car holds its own on long journey to meet rally car sibling

Verdict

5

Mileage: 5,289
Real-world fuel economy: 47.9mpg

The Hyundai i10 has had a pretty easy life so far on our fleet. Week in, week out, it’s fitted the bill perfectly as a city runabout, thanks to its compact dimensions, nippy handling and eager 1.0-litre engine. However, an invitation from Hyundai to join its World Rally Championship team ahead of last month’s Wales Rally GB was the perfect opportunity for our i10 to stretch its legs and head for the valleys.

And so, early on a Wednesday morning, I headed west in the i10, bound for Hyundai’s pre-event test venue. While other city cars would have been well out of their depth with motorway driving, the little Hyundai proved more than capable of cruising at 70mph. 

Hyundai i10 LT - rallying

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine thrummed away merrily as I passed trucks and tried to stay away from the outside lane. It’s not that the i10 struggles with overtaking, it’s just that its diminutive size means other road users would think nothing of tailgating until I was able to pull back over.

Unfortunately, a two-hour hold-up on the M6 in Birmingham meant I was running behind schedule. But again, the i10 proved a comfortable place to be, thanks to the well padded seats, and the standard iPod connection kept me entertained. When I finally crossed the border into Wales, the twisting roads and spectacular scenery made up for the delays, although the i10’s lack of power meant spending plenty of time stuck behind buses and lorries. 

Eventually we met up with the i20 WRC team testing near Machynlleth for our shoot, where some of the team were keen to check out the city car. While its performance is nowhere near the rally car’s, they were impressed by the interior and orange dashboard trim.

After the shoot, I headed north to drive the i10 on the final Wales Rally GB stage at Llyn Brenig, where the little Hyundai impressed on gravel roads, and proved you don’t need a big SUV in the rough.

With a layer of dirt covering every panel, I pointed the i10 back east for the return journey. After 600 miles, I was home – tired, but not exhausted, and extremely impressed by the Hyundai’s ability on a wide variety of roads.

Hyundai i10: second report

Cheap-to-run city car is a fine alternative to public transport


Hyundai i10 long-termer

Mileage: 2,750
Real-world fuel economy: 42.5mpg

Even to the wealthiest of those among us, the cost of getting around is unavoidable. There are cheap ways of doing it, of course, and, if you have the budget, more elaborate ways, too. However, during the last five weeks I’ve spent with the Hyundai i10, one thing has stood out – just how cheap this car is to keep on the road. 

With the Auto Express office based in central London and my home south of the Thames, the i10’s stomping ground is the capital, with the city car rarely leaving the confines of the M25. 

Hyundai i10 front cornering

Hyundai is currently offering the entry-level S model for £99 per month (it’s £109 for our SE model). Add in monthly outgoings such as the cost of insurance (£26) and fuel (£75), and a grand total of £210 a month seems outstanding value  when you consider it would cost £312 per month for me to use public transport. Okay, London residents will have to contend with the £11.50 daily congestion charge, but for owners living outside the capital, motoring doesn’t get much cheaper.  

The i10 is also a popular car among the staff at Auto Express. Often, I’ve returned from a new car launch or event to find the keys in the hands of someone else. It’s clear to see why, as the i10 goes above and beyond what it’s designed to do. 

It’s just about big enough for five adults, it can tackle a 200-mile round trip without a sweat and, despite residing in the urban jungle, economy has never dipped below 42mpg. 

Hyundai i10 long-termer interior

Okay, that’s some way off the claimed 60.1mpg figure, while another small criticism I have is that the i10 isn’t as much fun to drive as a Skoda Citigo. But it does a better job of delivering big-car comfort and feel.

What’s more impressive is that it does all of this for less than £10,000. Plus, there’s been a big step up in quality over the previous model. Obviously, it’s no Mercedes S-Class, but robust materials and solid build quality make you question how manufacturers with cars in the class above can’t do as good a job as Hyundai. 

As for reliability, the i10 has been faultless. There isn’t a squeak, rattle or missing wheel trim to report, and I’m hoping this continues over the next few months. That’s if I can get my hands on the keys, of course.

Hyundai i10: first report

We’re delighted to pick up the keys to award-winning Hyundai i10 city car in SE trim

Hyundai i10 SE long termer main image

Mileage: 1,832
Real-world mpg: 43.0mpg

It’s not every day we get to welcome an award winner to the Auto Express car park, but this week we’ve done exactly that.

The Hyundai i10 was crowned 2014 Car of the Year by our sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and now it’s time to see if it can cut it as a hard-working addition to our fleet.

Over the next six months, the i10 will be subjected to the most thorough of tests in congested central London.

It’s the perfect environment for a car which has won plaudits for a grown-up driving experience that helps it deal with the rough and tumble of urban life.

Better still, Hyundai has gone more upmarket with its city car, improving the quality of the materials and giving it a handsome new look that’s a world away from its upright and restrained predecessor. However, key to the i10’s appeal has always been value for money, and Hyundai has stuck to this ethos with the second generation. Our car comes in mid-range SE spec, while we’ve gone with the smaller engine that’s offered, a 65bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol.

This model comes in at £9,610, but there’s plenty of equipment fitted as standard. All-round electric windows, remote central locking, heated electric door mirrors, USB connectivity and cruise control with a speed limiter are all included.

Hyundai i10 SE long termer Jonny talks

Sat-nav isn’t on the options list for the i10, but when sales executive Shan Islam of Hyundai North London handed us the keys to our car, he informed us that if we wanted it, we could add it as a dealer-fit option for a reasonable £700.

The amount of standard kit and the quality of the fit and finish are excellent considering its price, giving the i10 a big advantage in the increasingly competitive city car class.

Another strong point for the little Hyundai is its practicality. Behind the rear seats is the largest boot in the city car class, at 252 litres, while one of its trump cards is that it offers seating for five passengers. For a car of such small proportions, being able to fit three adults in the back is an impressive feat.

Hyundai i10 SE long termer boot

Not only is the i10 cheap to buy, we’ve already seen how inexpensive it is to run. Admittedly, emissions of 108g/km aren’t as low as in some of its rivals, but £20 annual road tax is hardly going to break the bank. Add to that claimed economy of 60.1mpg from the 1.0-litre engine and a group one insurance rating, and you won’t need deep pockets to keep it on the road.

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing if I can get anywhere close to that fuel economy figure in regular day-to-day use. An early return of 43mpg is a reasonably encouraging start.

Since I’ve been handed the keys, the i10’s composure and big-car feel on the road have been immediately obvious. Even on the heavily rutted roads of London, the Hyundai shakes off bumps like a car from the class above.

So far, so good then, but there’s more in store for the i10. In the coming months I’ll be keen to see how the little Hyundai copes with longer journeys, and even high-speed motorway trips.

Insurance quote (below) provided by AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • On fleet since: July 2014
  • Price new: £9,610
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 65bhp
  • CO2/tax: 108g/km/£20
  • Options: Metallic paint (£495)
  • Insurance group/quote: Group: 1 Quote: £309
  • Mileage/mpg: 5,289/47.8mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far
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