Hyundai i10 1.1 Comfort Auto

Great value Korean offering is a strong contender for class honours.

  • Thin A-pillars ensure excellent forward visibility. The i10 also gets alloys, plus colour-coded door handles and mirrors.
  • The gearbox is adequate around town, but joining dual carriageways or motorways can be a daunting experience.

While Kia has made a big impact with its Cee’d and Pro_cee'd, parent company Hyundai hasn’t been able to attract the same level of interest among UK buyers with its small cars. Take the i10’s predecessor, the Amica: it’s not a particularly common sight on our roads, unlike Kia’s Picanto.

Hyundai has already signalled its intention to change this by introducing a new naming system. We’ve been impressed by the Ford Focus-rivalling i30 (Issue 975), while the manual i10 claimed victory in its first UK test shoot-out, against the Fiat Panda (Issue 1,003). But can the auto take centre stage when facing two newer competitors?

From the front, there are clear similarities between the city car and its hatchback big brother, while the clean rear with its neat tail-lights provides a modern appearance. Yet the car doesn’t look so attractive in profile. Despite Hyundai’s attempts to give it a dynamic stance, thanks to that upswept waistline, it still appears tall, which only highlights how small the wheels are. The i10 is far less athletic than rivals.

Don’t be deceived by the low price, though – this is no bargain basement offering. The car is as solidly put together as the Suzuki or Vauxhall. So although it’s basic, it doesn’t feel cheap. The dash is modern, the instrument dials clear and the controls well laid out. We especially like the intuitive stereo, which comes complete with an auxiliary input for MP3 players.

So it’s a shame that the steering wheel – an important first point of contact – is made of such rough plastic. Had Hyundai spent some money here, it would have made a huge difference. Still, the boot is generously proportioned – with an identical 225-litre capacity to the Splash and Agila – and has a storage tray under the floor.

On the road, the car is superbly manoeuvrable, thanks to a tight turning circle and good all-round visibility. The revised 1.1-litre petrol engine is another strong point. It’s impressed us before, although that was with a manual gearbox. The automatic fitted to our test car severely hampers progress and saps what little power the i10 has.

The model delivers only 65bhp, and you’ll find it spends a lot of time at the top end of the rev counter, where it feels strained and noisy. While the auto is smooth enough between changes, it has a sudden action when trying to manoeuvre at slow speeds, making parking tricky. At the test track, it recorded a leisurely 19.2-second time for the 0-60mph sprint – more than six seconds slower than rivals. Opting for the manual brings this down to a more respectable 13.3 seconds.

Still, despite the limited pace, the i10 handles well, due to its responsive steering and decent grip, even with narrow tyres. Body control is better than in the Splash and Agila, but the ride isn’t as forgiving over potholes. On uneven city roads it doesn’t insulate bumps as well as its rivals, and can be a little crashy. Yet it’s just as stable on the motorway, where it’s a comfortable cruiser.

The i10’s biggest selling point is its price. At £7,900, it’s by far the cheapest choice here – and that’s with the auto box. Choose the manual and the figure drops to £7,095 – a bargain for such a capable city car, especially when it gets air-con, electric windows all-round and alloys. Then again, it has only four airbags, there’s no trip computer and stability control isn’t an option. That could harm the Hyundai’s chances in this company.

Details

Price: £7,900Model tested: Hyundai i10 1.1 Comfort AutoChart position: 3WHY: We’ve already tested the manual i10. Here we find out if the auto is an equally strong package.

Economy

In terms of pace and driver fun, the auto box does the i10 no favours. And it hampers economy as well. Our car averaged 37.4mpg – 5mpg less than the manual version. It was the thirstiest car here, although only 2mpg behind the Suzuki.

Residuals

Expect the Hyundai to be the strongest residual performer of this trio, thanks to its low price. Our figures are based on the outgoing Amica, which holds to a superb 44.5 per cent. If it matches this, over three years the i10 will lose £4,384.

Servicing

Servicing costs for the i10 are slightly higher than for the Splash, at £668. But Hyundai’s UK dealers treat you better. The network was 7th in Driver Power 2007. Adding to the appeal is the five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Tax

Opt for the auto box in the i10, and it pushes CO2 output up 20g/km, to 139g/km. But this makes no difference to company car tax. In fact, the Hyundai works out as the cheapest to run due to its price – lower-band owners pay £261 a year.

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