The world's cheapest car goes head to head with Britain's best city car on UK roads
30 May 2010

The Tata Nano has given new meaning to the word affordable, but how will it cope with the day-to-day demands of running in Britain?

Will a car with just 33bhp – and one that takes in excess of 30 seconds to hit 60mph and runs out of puff entirely not far north of 65mph – seem entirely unsuitable for our roads?

See the Hyundai i10 versus Tata Nano test pics

Will the compromises that its £2250 price places on refinement, handling, quality and performance perhaps seem too great for our Western palettes to bear?

And will the world’s cheapest car look too cheap next to the best-value city car offered to British buyers in recent years: Hyundai’s i10?

Delivery mileage only

The Nano has been supplied by Richard Cruttenden, who bought it in India and drove it over 6000 miles back to the UK. Yet inside and out, it shows little evidence of the adventures it has been through.

The driver’s door feels very light, but once you are settled in you soon get comfy. The steering wheel sits a little low and doesn’t adjust, but that’s it.

You get a lot of space for your money. At less than 3.1 metres it’s barely 10cm longer than a Toyota iQ, yet it’s a proper four-seat family car with bags of head and shoulder room.

The engine is a two-cylinder 624cc petrol two-valver with a single overhead cam, and it’s buried under the boot floor. Although it’s noiser than most superminis, it has multi-point fuel injection, a balancer shaft and special Bosch ECU.

Across quiet rural routes the Nano feels unexpectedly comfortable. Up to 50mph you can keep up with most traffic if you know how hard to work the engine and when to change gear – there’s no rev counter or shift lights to help. Corners do induce bodyroll, but grip at the front wheels is decent enough.

Life on a multi-laner is unenjoyable, though. The rev limiter intervenes at 65mph, but even at 60mph this car lacks the basic directional stability, chassis control and stopping power to give confidence.

Oddly, where you’d expect the Nano to impress – in the city – it’s only okay. Visibility is excellent and there’s – just – enough power to nip into gaps, but the unpowered steering can get cumbersome and there’s not enough compliance in the Nano’s chassis to soak up broken surfaces.

The i10

How does a Hyundai i10 feel after this? Sublime. Like a new Mercedes C-class after a tired, ten-year-old Vectra.

It’s gloriously easy and precise around town; it feels like a rocketship away from a standstill; it rides bumps so quietly and handles its body movements so well for a car so small. It’s just a peach.

That isn’t to say there’s no future in Europe for the Nano – far from it. Already work has begun on making the car comply with stricter Euro 5 emissions standards as well as fitting it with better, disc-based anti-lock brakes and a more sophisticated ECU.

Other changes need to be made to: in our book , the Nano needs power steering, a better chassis and a slightly higher top speed to really cut it with European customers.

You can read the full story, plus see more pictures, in this week's Autocar magazine, which is on sale now.

See all the latest Hyundai i10 reviews, news and videoSee all the latest Tata Nano reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Hyundai i10 2008-2013

The Hyundai i10 offers bags of kit at a keen price, but needs more character

Join the debate

Comments
15

30 May 2010

The Tata Nano will not work in the UK or most of Europe for many reasons,

1. The car was designed for India and south Asia where the roads are rubbish and you do not drive more then 10 mph for most of the time, I just got from Pakistan 5 weeks ago and the traffic is so bad in the citys its like Hell!!! theres no point having a huge V8 or twin turbo as no one travels more then 10 mph !!

Its also bloddy dangerous to drive a fast exspensive car in Pakistan\India as the driving is so bad that it would be to much of a risk to take your pride and joy for a drive. Also most drivers over there do not have a licence to drive or any idea of car control. I have seen 13 yr old boys driving cars in India and Pakistan !!! on the main roads and no one cares to stop them. Thats how bad it is over there so the Tato Nano makes sense because its cheap and people can afford it over there and if you do have an accident you wont be going fast enough to hurt anyone or cause serious damage.

2. When I was in pakistan most people do not care about the cars handling, steering, chassis etc all they want is a car that goes forwards and backwards, so it makes sene to build this horrible nasty piece of junk for the masses over there as it will do all the above not in comfort but cheaply which is the main thing for most people.

3. In the UK no one will enjoy this car unless you have a screw lose the interior is rubbish, people will laugh at you, it looks gay, its to dangerous for our roads 0-60 30 seconds just imagine driving this on the M62 !!!!

4.Its handling is rubbish and with all the step hills in this country how the hell will this drive on rural country roads it would just make more sense to buy the i10 Tata need to keep this in its home market and not bring it to europe because it wont work

30 May 2010

[quote moe360]1. The car was designed for India and south Asia where the roads are rubbish[/quote] Just like the UK (in fact, our urban roads are worse). [quote moe360]When I was in pakistan most people do not care about the cars handling, steering, chassis etc [/quote] Similar to the UK, except that here in the UK, the badge matters more than the dynamics.

30 May 2010

[quote Dan McNeil v2][quote moe360]1. The car was designed for India and south Asia where the roads are rubbish[/quote] Just like the UK (in fact, our urban roads are worse). [quote moe360]When I was in pakistan most people do not care about the cars handling, steering, chassis etc [/quote] Juts like the UK (here, the badge matters more).[/quote]

Dan trust me the roads in the UK could be better but our system is miles ahead of anything in Pakistan\India, trust me everytime I get back from there I relaise how lukcy we are to have a system which is organized and has order 85% of the time.

The roads in Pakistan are a lot worse I have driven and seen it with my own eyes we in the UK are very lucky we moan way to much about the raods and system over here I think everyone should experince driving in india\Pak then they will relaise how lucky we are.

30 May 2010

I never thought I would see a car that made the Hyundai i10 look sophisticated and stylish!

But it doesn't fool me.... They both suck...

Perhaps its a piece of good hyundai marketing, against most cars the i10 looks crap but in this company it looks good...

30 May 2010

[quote fhp11]They both suck[/quote]

Wrong. As a city car the i10 is not at all bad. Very quick off the mark about town, placable and darty (to the point it's actually quite fun) , easy and light to drive, reasonably comfortable, very well equipped (air con and front and rear electric windows are unusual standard fitments in its class), has the commanding high driving position 4x4 drivers like and is well screwed together. It has its faults: poor high speed refinement (lot of tyre noise) and if really pushed the handling isn't the best, it feels a bit topply when chucked into corners and it runs out of front end grip quicker than most superminis I've driven (just don't tell my mum how I know that one).

The i10 serves a purpose. It provides cheap, easy to drive, comfortable, reliable city transport to people like my 68 year old mum. It was chosen because it is one of the few city cars that come with a proper automatic transmission rather than some daft Hydraulic clutched or CVT alternative. As Mum's starting to get on a bit the high driving position is a bonus as it aids easy access and egress and the combination of a five year warranty and a very competitive purchase price made even more attractive by Hyundai's own scrappage scheme that offered £2K for her 9 year old Suzuki Swift.

Suck did you say? When did you drive it to form this objective opinion?

30 May 2010

Is it legal for Autocar writers to drive this car on UK roads when it is not registered in the UK or even in Europe ?

30 May 2010

They both are rubbish and I would only ever thinking of driving either if it was the only car in my budget and I did not have the money to buy any thing else.

If i was old and in my 60s and did my shopping from M&S and did not know how to park a car in a busy carpark.

If i was a cheapskate who does not want to spend his or her money on a decent set of wheels (whats the point of living then ?)

If I was gay

Would only drive this if I wanted to rent a cheap car for holiday or as a courtsey car.

If someone said to me you have to choose between these two cars I would take the bus to work

30 May 2010

[quote moe360]

I would only ever thinking of driving either if it was the only car in my budget and I did not have the money to buy any thing else.

If i was old and in my 60s and did my shopping from M&S and did not know how to park a car in a busy carpark.

If i was a cheapskate who does not want to spend his or her money on a decent set of wheels (whats the point of living then ?)

[/quote]

You just described a lot of drivers Moe which in turn explains why Hyundai sells a lot of i10s. Don't knock it too hard. It serves a purpose and serves it well. Doesn't appeal to me at the moment, not nearly refined enough at speed, but if I was back in London where it's a struggle to get parked near your house or anywhere else for that matter, you rarely drive outside a 30 limit, cars get bashed and scratched regularly and no one you know ever sees your car because you take the tube and taxis everywhere when socialising I could live with a two year old, cheap as chips automatic one of these. Would never wash it or repair any dings and would use nice hire cars for trips back to Scotland or NornIron.

30 May 2010

[quote tannedbaldhead]

[quote moe360]

I would only ever thinking of driving either if it was the only car in my budget and I did not have the money to buy any thing else.

If i was old and in my 60s and did my shopping from M&S and did not know how to park a car in a busy carpark.

If i was a cheapskate who does not want to spend his or her money on a decent set of wheels (whats the point of living then ?)

[/quote]

You just described a lot of drivers Moe which in turn explains why Hyundai sells a lot of i10s. Don't knock it too hard. It serves a purpose and serves it well. Doesn't appeal to me at the moment, not nearly refined enough at speed, but if I was back in London where it's a struggle to get parked near your house or anywhere else for that matter, you rarely drive outside a 30 limit, cars get bashed and scratched regularly and no one you know ever sees your car because you take the tube and taxis everywhere when socialising I could live with a two year old, cheap as chips automatic one of these. Would never wash it or repair any dings and would use nice hire cars for trips back to Scotland or NornIron.

[/quote]

I agree in does serve a purpose but I am just not a fan of any of these small cars they just remind me of learning to drive again.

Whats happening with your new company car ? have you got one or you sticking with the MX5 ? Did you know someone on the is MX5 fourm said the Passat CC is for gays !! how dare they

30 May 2010

[quote moe360]

Whats happening with your new company car ? have you got one or you sticking with the MX5 ? Did you know someone on the is MX5 fourm said the Passat CC is for gays !! how dare they

[/quote]

Gay indeed... How rude. CC is a classy baby Phaeton lookalike for manly men.

Last company cars purchased were 08s. Lot of lads been made redundant and those left have to make do with their old cars. I'm glad I opted out of a company car as I'm on about £4.5K extra a year and 40p a mile for business use. Mazda is paid for in September. I'm not sure whether or not to replace it and what to buy if I do. Am tempted by the Pug RCZ and Honda CRZ but haven't really looked into other alternatives (i10 isn't one of them). I really fancy the new VW Bluesport (a petrol one) but not sure when or if for that matter it will come to the market.

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