First drive: Hyundai i10
What is it?
More than five years after its predecessor went on sale, Hyundai will be delivering the first new examples of its clever and compact city car, the i10, early in 2014 – from January 30 to be precise. The previous version won rave reviews so on that basis alone the new car should be well-received. It looks sharper, has enhanced equipment levels, yet crucially, has not gone up in price, of which more later. Hyundai say it's a car that 'gets you from A to B' by which they mean B-segment equipment levels on an A-segment budget. They're right, as we're about to explain (even if it's not a particularly great slogan).
What's under the bonnet?
A choice of two petrol engines, described by Hyundai as refined and efficient. Of course, they would say that, but having put both through their paces on the highways and byways of the Italian island of Sardinia, it's difficult to argue. There's a choice of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder powertrain which can get from 0-60mph in around 15 seconds and has a top speed of 96mph; or a 1.2-litre four-cylinder unit which can get to 60mph in 12 seconds and tops out at 106mph. Not exactly Usain Bolt-like, but respectable enough. Both felt more than adequate on the long, traffic-free straights we found on the island, as well as the twisty mountain-based routes that really put the cars to the test. Naturally, the bigger engine will come into its own with a fully loaded car and boot . . . and with class-leading legroom across the range, you might well find yourself with passengers fairly frequently.
What's the spec like?
Lots of useful gadgets and gizmos, all laid out in a user-friendly style. In fact the interior of the car, as well as being very roomy, is actually rather natty, with coloured inlays that stretch right across the dash and around the gearstick. They brighten up the cabin tastefully and add to the feeling of spaciousness. The range begins with the S trim, which, as standard, comes with the 1.0-litre powertrain; cloth and vinyl interior trim in black and beige; central locking; electric front windows; daytime running lights and a tilt-adjust steering wheel. Prices start at £8,345 OTR (no change from the outgoing i10) and you can add aircon for £650. Moving up to the mid-trim SE, customers will benefit from remote central locking; electric rear windows; body-coloured door handles and mirrors and the ability to adjust the height of the driver's seat. Manual and automatic options are available at SE level, as are both engine sizes. Prices here start at £9,295. The range-topping Premium trim is the one Hyundai are really keen to shout about. Buyers will enjoy features such as Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition; steering wheel controls; rear speakers and LED daytime running lights. There are some additional nice design touches and Premium purchasers will need to find £9,995. Hyundai expect 90 per cent of purchasers to go for SE or Premium.
Just a few, among them, Citroen C1, VW Up!, Audi A1, Kia Picanto, Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo.
What's it like to drive?
We were impressed. Refined and roomy, comfortable and quiet, this car is a worthy successor to its predecessor. The gearbox is smooth and seamless, the steering is light and accurate and the overall impression is of big-car refinement in a much smaller product. Visibility is good and on the whole it feels very European, which is hardly surprising as it was designed in Germany and is being manufactured in Turkey. Perhaps it's a tad conventional in its looks and it certainly lacks the quirkiness of others in the busy A segment, but on the other hand, you really do get a lot of bang for your buck in a small car that doesn't feel like a compromise.
The AOL Cars verdict
If we were working for Hyundai we'd be feeling pretty optimistic about the i10's prospects. It deserves to do well. And one thing we have neglected to mention so far is that the car is backed by the company's five-year unlimited mileage warranty. Impressive equipment levels, sensible pricing and an interior that makes our much-loved long term Skoda Citigo look a little cheap. Good job, Hyundai.
Model: Hyundai i10 (Premium trim)
Engine: 1.0-litre, 3cyl petrol
Max speed: 96mph
0-62mph: 14.9 seconds
Emissions: 108g/km CO2