Sometimes, things just work out perfectly. Hyundai could not have foreseen the financial crisis that would coincide with the launch of the previous i10; nor could it have predicted that unprecedented government incentives would be offered to make small cheap cars appear virtually irresistible.

Had Hyundai still been turning out cut-price mediocrity like the Atoz, it may have resulted in nothing more than a profitable blip. But the i10 was different. It was decent enough to look at and to sit in, well made, great value and, incredibly, rather fun to drive.

It was a critical and commercial smash, establishing the steep trajectory for growth that has only just now levelled out – six years on.

Prior to the last i10, Hyundai had been building the Atoz (or Atos or Amica, depending on market) since 1997. In fact, 2014 marked its 17th in production as the model is still sold in India as the Santro Xing.

From a European viewpoint, such a long lifespan hardly seems deserved. Whatever its nameplate, the car was indicative of the downmarket approach the manufacturer took to carve a global niche for itself.

Nevertheless, it was cheap to run, cheap to buy and could seat four adults – all virtues that were transferred to the vastly superior i10.

Now, a second-generation i10, not dissimilar to the first, takes up the torch. Significant strides forward in desirability and overall quality have been promised, and they’ll need to be discernible now that others – Volkswagen in particular – have aggressively re-entered the city car segment.

Hyundai offers its new i10 with a choice of two petrol engines, a 1.0 litre and a 1.2 litre. All come as standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but buyers can opt for the 1.2-litre engine with a five-speed automatic.

A 'Blue Drive' version of the 1.0-litre i10 is also available, which delivers reduced emissions and improved economy compared to the standard version.

So are we looking at a Fiat Panda beater or VW Up fodder? You’ll know soon enough.

Top 5 City cars

  • The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

    Volkswagen Up

  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

  • The Celerio is an all-new city car from Suzuki

    Suzuki Celerio

  • Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

    Fiat Panda

  • Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva


First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Hyundai range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 November 2015
    We try the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol version of the Golf Bluemotion. If you're not doing mega miles, it's a better bet than the diesel
  • 2015 Mercedes-AMG A45
    First Drive
    27 November 2015
    Mercedes couldn't let the Audi RS3 get away with having more power than its AMG A45. As part of a wholesale A-Class facelift, it now has 376bhp and a host of other revisions
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?