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Hyundai's third generation i10 gets the basics right and leaves city car rivals to fight it out over who's the trendiest. June Neary takes a look.
I might well be revealing myself as a bit of a grumpy old woman here but exactly who was it that decided small cars had to be 'funky'? It seems that every new city car that pops up on the market is either swathed in retro design themes, pursuing some futuristic styling concept or comes in the most lurid array of colour schemes imaginable. Sometimes it's a baffling combination of all three. Now, despite not quite fitting into the target demographic for such vehicles, I like to think that I appreciate a trendy little city car as much as the next person. I'll admit that properly executed, the fashionable small can work very well but do they all have to try so hard? Hyundai's i10 is refreshing in that it isn't a slave to fashion and that's why I always though that we'd get on famously. The third generation i10 model we look at here, like its predecessor, is a city car just like the Fiat 500, the smart fortwo, the Peugeot 108, the Toyota Aygo and others. What's different is that it's a throwback to how city cars used to be. By that, I mean like a bigger car but small. Hyundai hasn't bothered creating a lifestyle statement with mountains of personalisation options, a viral marketing campaign and its own branded pop concerts. Hyundai has made a practical and well built small car that it's selling at an affordable price. What's not to like?
The i10 has one of the longest wheelbases in its class, helping with ride comfort while also maximising the amount of room inside this compact city car. This model's long wheelbase has been achieved by pushing the wheels right into the corners of the car so as not to increase overall length by too much. It's a bigger thing than its predecessor, body changes adding 5mm to the length and 20mm to the width. It sits 20mm lower too, helping it avoid the Noddy-car look of many city cars. The i10's cabin might be slightly dull compared to city car rivals but the design is simple and appealing. The vibrancy and ingenuity that characterises the best small car interiors doesn't appear to be in evidence but Hyundai looks to have concentrated on getting the fundamentals right. Build quality is strong and the clear design of the controls helps give the i10 a classy, mature feel. Getting child seats in through the wide opening rear doors is surprisingly easy and chocolate marks were relatively straightforward to wipe off the seat fabric. Inside, the i10 offers best-in-class legroom and cargo capacity. Front and rear passengers benefit from surprisingly generous legroom, while boot capacity is supermini-like, rated at 252-litres with all seats in place.
This little Hyundai doesn't feel particularly lively on the road but it's easy to drive and manoeuvrable with better comfort levels than you'd expect in a car this small. A choice of 1.0 or 1.2-litre petrol engines is available. The 1.2 is a four-cylinder unit that offers 83hp, making the car good for 62mph in 12.6s on the way to 106mph. Customers are also offered a 66hp 1.0-litre engine at the entry level which makes 62mph in 14.6s on the way to 97mph. The latest model has targeted improving refinement as a key priority. The suspension has been given a thorough working over to improve ride quality and reduce noise. The longer wheelbase and better quality relocated dampers will help here, improving body control over road imperfections.
Pricing starts at around £12,500 and there's a choice of three trim levels - SE, SE Connect and Premium - and at SE level, there's an extra £800 to pay if you want the 1.2-litre engine rather than the 1.0-litre unit. An AMT automated gearbox is a £500 option. Even the base 'SE' model gets a DAB radio with a 3.8-inch display, Bluetooth, air conditioning, electric windows, a leather steering wheel and gear lever, electric mirror adjustment and cruise control. Standard safety equipment across the range is class-leading, including Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Alert (DAA), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) with integrated Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning System with Lane Keep Assist (LKAS) and eCall, which can automatically dial emergency services in the event of a serious accident, shortening response times and improving post-accident protection.
Some people will bemoan the fact the i10 city car from Hyundai doesn't display the youthful vibrancy and stylish design found in some of the leading city car products. Others will love it for precisely that reason. This is a straightforward small car refreshingly lacking in gimmicks. It's good to drive, well-built and neatly designed without resorting to outlandish colours or gimmicky detailing. There are increasingly few small cars like the i10 and that can only play into Hyundai's hands.