"The Hyundai i10 ticks all the boxes, is cheap to run, fun to drive and very practical - there aren't many better city cars around."
First introduced in 2008, the i10 has been a huge hit for Hyundai, clocking up impressive sales during the innovative Government Scrappage Scheme. To build on that success, the new model offers improved engines, including an ultra-efficient 1.0-litre petrol in the i10 Blue, as well as a more powerful version of the 1.25-litre engine from the previous car. The looks have been lightly revised, too, with the hexagonal grille from the Hyundai ix35 SUV at the front and tweaked lights at the rear. The interior still feels a bit cheap, but there is plenty of room for four and is surprisingly good fun to drive. What's more, regardless of the various improvements, the new i10 remains great value and even comes with the company's unlimited mileage, five-year ‘Triple Care’ warranty package.
Light, accurate steering, soft suspension and strong engines combine to make the Hyundai i10 an enjoyable car to scoot around town in, and at low speeds, it's comfortable and quiet. There is a choice of two petrol engines – a 68bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit in the i10 Blue, and an 85bhp 1.25-litre four-cylinder in the standard car. Neither is particularly quick, but in the hustle and bustle of city living, both are agile enough to keep you at the head of the queue. The i10 feels solid on the motorway, but there are only five gears and the engines do need to be worked hard to keep up with faster flowing traffic. That said, the gearbox is easy to use, and despite its tall shape and skinny tyres, the baby Hyundai handles well.
Bumps and potholes pose little threat to the Hyundai i10, as the suspension is tuned for comfort and deals with rough roads very well at lower speeds. The short wheelbase is surprisingly well cushioned and rivals many mid-sized SUVs for a relaxing ride. The small engines are quiet around town, but get noisier at motorway speeds due to the lack of a sixth gear. Interior space is surprisingly generous, too, partly thanks to clever packaging, so even two full-sized adults will be able to sit comfortably in the back. Plus, the i10's tall roofline means that there's plenty of headroom there, too.
This is a strong point for Hyundai, as the company has an excellent five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, which with the new Triple Care package, includes free roadside assistance and annual vehicle health checks. Inside, the quality of the cabin plastics isn’t great, but the i10 is cheaper than most its main rivals and feels more than acceptable for the bargain price. In terms of safety, it falls slightly behind newer rivals like the VW up! and Skoda Citigo, but still managed a solid four stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests and three for pedestrian protection. Mechanical problems are unlikely thanks to a decent reliability record, but should you run into difficulty, the comprehensive warranty should save you from any big bills. With Hyundai placing an impressive seventh in the 2012 Driver Power survey, and the i10 a respectable 57th, owners are clearly a satisfied bunch.
For its size, the Hyundai i10 has a reasonably sized boot. At 225 litres, it's slightly bigger than a Kia Picanto and much larger than that in a Suzuki Alto, while bettering the Chevrolet Spark and Nissan Pixo, too. The i10 only comes as a practical five-door, and the doors open wide, so accessing the rear seats is simple, while its tall, upright and boxy shape means space in the back is ample, even for larger adults. Comfort and Style models get additional underfloor storage in the boot, giving owners somewhere safe to keep valuables out of sight.
Value for money
There's no denying the Hyundai i10's trump card is its value for money. It's difficult to find a cheaper car than the i10, because list prices are so low. The bargain new price means depreciation is minimal, and with small, economical cars in such strong favour at the moment, it's an undeniably sound long-term investment.
The new i10 is now cheaper than ever to run: the 1.0-litre Blue model will average 67.3mpg and emits 99g/km of CO2, which means no annual road tax and tiny fuel bills. However, the more powerful 1.25-litre with the five-speed manual gearbox, will return similar economy and it costs only £20 per year to tax. Unfortunately, if you want an automatic, you’ll have to plump for the larger engine, and suffer severely compromised running costs as a result. All cars come with Hyundai's five-year Total Care package, which includes a comprehensive warranty, roadside assistance and annual vehicle health checks so it should prove fairly easy to keep a lid on any long-term costs. Insurance premiums are amongst the lowest of any new car, and even entry-level cars come with air-con, electric windows and a six speaker stereo.