Hyundai I10 Overview
Give the Hyundai i10 a few years and it'll be the fastest car in the world. This is the new 1.2-litre petrol version and, despite the engine being just 162cc larger than the base-spec petrol, it's 18 per cent more powerful, 20 per cent more torquey and - despite achieving the same emissions and economy - three seconds quicker to 60mph. We're still talking pretty modest numbers - 77bhp, 87lb ft and 12.8 seconds respectively - but imagine if they keep up that rate of progress with subsequent generations of engines. If they keep going at this rate, by the time they've fitted a 1.6-litre engine, it'll put out 160bhp and hit 60mph in 0.8 seconds.
And - whisper it in case it invalidates your five-year warranty - the i10's actually a bit of a laugh to drive. OK, the skinny tyres mean grip levels are tenuous at best, but the i10 is so light that it'll happily indulge in a bit of 205 GTi-style silliness on wet roundabouts. Compared to its three-cylinder rivals from Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota, the i10 is in a different league. Before I implode in a flash of eulogy, there are a couple of quibbles. Reach-adjustable steering would be nice, and do wonders for the slightly awkward seating position. And, if we're being honest, the i10 still looks like the sort of car you'd find parked in droves outside a south-coast retirement home.
In the meantime, though, this i10 will do just fine. Put simply, it's a proper little cracker. Don't be fooled by the i10's pensioner-spec exterior: there's plenty of clever tech going on in the engine here - hydraulic lash adjustors, beehive valve springs and an offset crank - all of which combine to make the i10 feel quite unlike a budget city car. It's almost silent at tickover, revs cleanly and - thanks in part to sensible gearing - is unobtrusive even at motorway speeds. Not to be confused with the world's most famous MP3 player, the i10 is the second car in Hyundai's i family after the i30. It sits at the bottom of Hyundai's range price-wise, but it's very much at the top of the pile when you consider value for money.
Never mind whether you like its looks or enjoy driving an i10, what will sell it to you is that you can buy an i10 Classic with Hyundai Accessories like air-conditioning, ABS, power steering, central locking, electric front windows and four airbags - all as standard - and still get hundreds of pounds of change from ?7000. Oh, and on top of all that, there's a five-year unlimited mileage warranty as well. For another ?600, the Comfort also brings remote central locking, colour-coded door handles and mirrors, and electric rear windows, while the most expensive Style gives you koko alloy wheels, a metal fascia, heated front seats and an electric sunroof - all for less than ?8000.
But, what's perhaps most impressive is that there is no obvious sign of penny-pinching or corner-cutting. On the contrary, the dash could pass for something from a much more expensive car, and everything feels very well put together. It's even a reasonably presentable little thing, with colour-coded bumpers on every model. What's more, for such a small car, there's even a fair amount of room inside. You could fit in four adults, and only if they were over six feet tall would they start to feel cramped. Even the boot is a decent size for a car in this class. Given its small dimensions and equally small engine, it will come as no surprise that the i10 works best as a city car, where you also really appreciate its light controls. However, out of town some of its shortcomings start to become obvious.
The performance noticeably tails off as you head up towards the motorway limit, whereas the noise does exactly the opposite. At those higher speeds, you really become aware of the engine's lack of flexibility - and it's all the more obvious when you choose the four-speed automatic gearbox. For the most part, the suspension copes well enough, but it struggles when the speeds rise and the bumps get bigger. In terms of the engineering, there's nothing ground-breaking here, although to be fair, even Hyundai will admit that. Instead, where the i10 does stand out is in having no major drawbacks, but offering a package of low prices and high levels of standard equipment that nothing else can match.