Road tests

New Hyundai i10 N Line 2024 review: souped-up city car proves size doesn’t matter

The Hyundai i10 N Line arrives with a host of sporty tweaks and the popular city car is all the better for it

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The Hyundai i10 N Line injects a pumped-up attitude into our favourite city car, and thanks to the engaging handling and rorty exhaust note, never fails to put a smile on your face. The boy-racer looks may be a bit juvenile for members of the parish council, but the N Line is as spacious and well equipped as the regular i10. As such, it’s a worthy addition to the range.

Due to shrinking profit margins and stricter emission regulations, the once thriving city-car class has dwindled to just a handful of models. The Peugeot 108, Citroen C1, Vauxhall Viva, Skoda Citigo and, most recently, the Volkswagen up! have all met their makers, but there are a couple still fighting the good fight – the Hyundai i10 among them.

The i10 is our reigning City Car of the Year thanks to the fact it’s a doddle to drive in town, and a facelift in 2023 brought with it some styling tweaks and a new digital instrument cluster. It also heralded the inclusion of extra safety systems like forward collision warning and lane-keep assist that were reserved for larger, more expensive cars until now. 

In general, it’s an understated, smart-looking little car. But what if you want something with a little more attitude? Well, that’s what the N Line model is for. The range-topping version of Hyundai’s smallest offering gets a viscous-looking, Piranha-like face with new grille and daytime running lights, plus a set of model-specific 16-inch alloy wheels and twin exhaust tips. There are plenty of red accents, just like the full-fat hot hatches from the brand’s rapidly evolving N division – creators of the sublime i20 N and i30 N. 

Being just an N Line model means it's not on the same plane as those cars, but this is more than a simple styling pack. Indeed, the i10 N Line gets an exclusive 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine that produces 99bhp and 172Nm of torque – plenty of grunt for a car the size of a shoebox, and enough to get the front tyres scrabbling for grip when you tear away from a junction. It also provides a pretty rowdy exhaust note to compliment the car’s image.

Paired to the engine is a five-speed manual gearbox that is a joy to use, with a short throw between each gear and it slots in place with a satisfying clunk every time. Even the position of the gear lever feels perfect, as it’s always just a short distance from your left hand, allowing for quick shifts when needed.

Then there’s the steering, which has just the right amount of weight to make you feel like you’re muscling it around corners, but still light enough so low-speed manoeuvres and navigating tight city streets are easy. Of course the i10’s diminutive size helps in those situations, allowing it to change direction quickly and feel very agile. There are no unnecessary drive modes, either.

Put simply: the i10 N Line is a riot on a twisty back road. And yet, after nearly 450 miles – including a couple of bouts of sprinted driving – we averaged a respectable 42.3mpg. Exactly 10mpg shy of Hyundai ambitious quoted figure of 52.3mpg. 

One gripe we do have is the slightly firm ride, which does make the car feel very lively. It’s fine as you snake through the countryside on smooth tarmac, but on rougher road surfaces things become quite bouncy. Rear passengers get it worse because they’re positioned directly over the rear axle, feeling every bump and pothole you hit. Also, while the N Line is just as capable in urban environments as the regular i10, it’s not a great cruiser as the cabin fills with road noise at higher speeds.

There’s a lot to like about the N Line’s cabin, however. Included is a heated steering wheel and heated front seats – which we were particularly grateful for as we tested the car in the winter – plus a wireless charging pad to go with the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and an eight-inch touchscreen. The bespoke N Line seats aren't body-hugging buckets, but there’s enough side bolster to stop you flying into the passenger’s lap when cornering.

Red accents inside and a set of brushed metal pedals help give it a sporty feel. The car’s leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob are nice touches too, but they’re about the only soft touch materials you’ll find inside the i10. The rest of the interior is made from hard, scratchy black plastic, which we can accept in a car at this price – and with the N Line especially, it does evoke a feel of much older hot hatches from the eighties.

Of course, classic hot hatches don’t have any of the safety aids that the i10 now gets. We just wish Hyundai had added a physical button to turn off the lane keep assist (it’s buried in the sub-menus) instead of fitting an easily-accessible switch for the traction control.

Otherwise, the i10’s cabin is surprisingly spacious, with the boxy proportions providing a remarkable amount of headroom – even for six-foot adults. We managed to fit four grown-ups, two dogs and a boot full of luggage in the car when we lived with it – so maybe don’t judge the i10 on size alone.

Model:Hyundai i10 N Line
Price:i10 from £15,420 / N Line from £18,020 / As tested £18,820
Engine:1.0-litre 3cyl petrol turbo
Transmission:Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power/torque:99bhp/172Nm
0-62mph:10.5 seconds
Top speed:115mph
Economy:52.3mpg
CO2:123g/km
L/W/H:3,675/1,680/1,483mm
On sale:Now
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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