Outside of an Avis centre, you probably wouldn’t have considered the old Hyundai i10. With the height-to-width ratio of a telegraph pole, the same level of visual interest, and a cabin that majored on spaciousness instead of tactility, it was a true function-before-form car. Surprisingly decent to drive, despite the sedate styling, but that trait was lost on the geriatric customer base. Now there’s a new version, expected to generate 75,000 sales when it goes on sale in January 2014. Read on for the CAR verdict.
The new Hyundai i10 actually looks like it’s been styled though!
Yes, at the third time of asking, Hyundai has had a crack at actually drawing a funky city car, and on the hole, nailed the brief. Being designed, engineered, and built in Europe for our tastes, it’s as derivative as pizza and chips in a Parisian bistro, but pretty funky all the same, if not as cool as the clean-cut lines of the more desirable VW Up.
At least it no longer like a miniature minibus…
That’s thanks to an all new dimensions set: 80mm longer, 50mm lower, and 65mm wider. So not only does the new i10 look like it’ll survive a mild crosswind, but the cabin is more spacious, the boot beats the previously class-leading VW by one litre (at 252l) and it’s stronger, stiffer, and safer. Plus, thanks to nerdy touches like moving the radio aerial to the rear of the roof and remoulding the door mirrors, the new i10 is the slipperiest city car you can buy. That makes for mean less wind noise and better fuel efficiency, Hyundai claims.
Speaking of that cabin…
Gone are the Fisher-Price buttons and kid’s high chair driving position, though commendable visibility remains. A splash of paintwork-matching colour lifts the ambience, and there’s decent equipment on offer too: most popular in the UK will be the mid-spec SE models, with remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, and a choice of 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre petrol engines with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Our test car, a top-spec ‘Premium’ i10, also gets from heated front seats and a heated leather steering wheel, 14in alloys, LED running lights and Bluetooth with voice control. All models get a USB socket, even the entry-level S, which kicks off at the same £8345 as the outgoing i10.
What’s it like to drive?
Refined, delivering on Hyundai’s promise that you get supermini manners in a city car package. There’s much less noise than the deafening old i10, and all the controls have been dampened too, with lighter steering, a less mechanical-feeling gearshift, and more up-to-scratch brakes. The noise of the 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, a carryover from the existing i10, is better suppressed, but you’d be mad to choose it over the barely any slower and infinitely more characterful 1.0-litre three-cylinder, which also coughs out less CO2 and boasts a claimed 2.4mpg economy advantage.
It’s actually a quieter package than the VW Up trio, thanks to some clever hydraulic engine mounts and an 11mm offset crank to reduce vibration, plus a wealth of extra soundproofing and seals. Despite all that, the new car is slightly lighter than before too.
The new Hyundai i10 still doesn’t create the same pang of ‘want’ as a VW Up, but it is better value, on a par for overall refinement, and substantially more mature than its predecessor too. Go for the 1.0-litre engine and mid-range trim for the best all-rounder and you’ll get a refined, useful and (at last) moderately handsome baby Hyundai.