City cars generally feel as though they’re targeted at the youth market, but the new Hyundai i10 instead has all the qualities of a large Hyundai in a compact package, making it feel like the most mature car in its class.
Large premium cars command high prices and high profit margins, so the manufacturers can go to town on developing the vehicles. The opposite is true for city cars – there’s very little profit margin and as a result most city cars feel as though they’ve been developed to a price point, and they look and feel as though corners have been cut. However the new Hyundai i10 changes this view completely – it feels like a large Hyundai in a small package.
The exterior of the new i10 looks more grown-up than its predecessor, and the interior looks like any other Hyundai – which is a good thing; it feels like a quality product and as though it’s from a larger car. Crucially it doesn’t give the impression of being a car for 18-year olds, unlike most other city cars. Which is important, as people of any age are entitled to drive a compact car that is ideal for urban areas.
So the interior isn’t full of bright plastics; it has an upmarket feel and there are clear buttons and controls rather than the entire car being controlled via a smartphone. Despite this being a small car you even get a decent amount of storage space, such as between the front seats. And there are five seats. The boot isn’t huge, but it’s respectable for this class of car.
Under the bonnet there’s a 3-cylinder, 1-litre petrol engine, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Just like the interior environment, the i10’s driving experience is very mature – in fact probably the most mature in its class. It feels light and agile around town as a small city car should. However the i10 is also very competent – and refined – on the motorway. There may not be much in the acceleration department at motorway speeds, but once you’re up to 70mph it’s much more of a relaxed environment than most competitors. There’s more road noise than a family saloon, but that’s to be expected.
The i10’s ride is comfortable, and handling is enjoyable, although the narrow tyres do struggle for grip on cold, wet roads if pushed beyond their comfort zone.
Our only main issue with the car is the driving position. Cars in this class just don’t have the engineering budgets for reach-adjustable steering wheels, so it won’t be possible for all shapes and sizes of drivers to get a perfect driving position. However it is easier to live with than some rivals.
Although we’re celebrating that this car isn’t targeted at the youth market, a little bit more in-car technology connectivity would be good. Rivals such as the new Toyota Aygo appear to have had all their Research & Development budget channelled into a touchscreen and associated media tech, rather than a modern new platform. The development of the i10 in comparison seems to have focused on shrinking the driving experience of a larger Hyundai into a pint-sized package. Personally, we would always go for driving experience over technology – but an 18-year old won’t agree with us.
The official economy figure for the Hyundai i10 is 60.1mpg, with emissions of 108g/km CO2. Over a week of mixed driving we achieved an average of 50.4mpg. Small-engined city cars generally fare worst in terms of real life v official mpg, so 50.4mpg v 60.1mpg isn’t too bad. We did achieve 54.3mpg on a motorway run. In an ideal world, we would want better economy from cars in this class, as they are so light. There’s a (4 seat) i10 SE Blue Drive 1.0 Manual which is more economical and emits just 98g/km CO2.
If you rarely drive more than 80 miles, and live in an urban area, an electric car might be better than a petrol car – EVs have very low running costs, although you’d have to see if the higher purchase costs work for you if you don’t cover that many miles.
The i10 costs £9,610. There are very, very few new cars that you can buy for under £10,000 – and even less that you’d want to drive – however the i10 is one of these rare beasts. Prices start at £8,345. As well as the 1-litre version tested, there’s also a 4-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine choice, which would be even better suited to longer journeys. Trim levels are S, S Air, SE and Premium. The i10 comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty, and the 1-litre models fall into the lowest insurance group 1.
Hooray! – city car buyers now have a choice. If you want ‘youthful and technology’ (and cheap and cheerful) then there’s the likes of the Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo. Next up the ladder in our view is the Volkswagen Up! – it may give the impression of being better engineered than the C1/108/Aygo trio – but, in our view, not by much. So we would vote for two cars as top of the class. One is the Fiat Panda – mainly because it just doesn’t feel like a city car – especially the (much more expensive) 4×4 version. The other is the new Hyundai i10 – because it feels like the most mature, grown up car in its class. The i10 scores a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.