Hyundai's budget city car gets high quality build and specification

What is it?

The second model in Hyundai’s new European-focused model line up. Don’t disregard this car as a Hyundai branded Kia Picanto – the i10 is based on an entirely new platform, and shares only the 1.1-litre engine with Kia’s freshly revised city car.

There’s good reason for Hyundai to put so much effort into the i10. It needs to be good to match the quality levels set by the i30 hatch, and if it achieves this it is expected to double Hyundai’s sales in the segment to around 10,000 units per year. This is the first time we’ve driven it in full UK-spec, and with an automatic gearbox.

What’s it like?

Much better than the bare figures suggest. The four-speed auto ‘box is likely to account for around 25 per cent of the i10’s UK sales, and it deserves that. It’s the smoothest automatic in this class, and at low speeds it selects the right gears at the right time without the driver even feeling the change.

It’s agonisingly slow to change up if you accelerate hard, but that’s fine because these cars won’t be driven like that – they’ll be driven sedately around town, when the auto ‘box copes admirably.

More importantly, the i10 has successfully achieved the quality levels it needs to be a real contender in the European market.

The interior is the most spacious in its class, and though it features some cheap plastics - the standard plastic steering wheel and gear stick are the lowest points in the cabin - the majority of the materials feel durable and of good quality for the price of the car.

Plus, the UK-spec cars see a decent low-speed ride that successfully absorbs even the worst road surfaces without too much body roll in corners. To give it the final thumbs up, the 1.1-litre engine revs freely, and though very raucous at high revs is a lot of fun to hustle around city centres.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely, but only get the automatic if you simply can’t drive a manual. Competent though it is, the auto isn’t as good as the five-speed manual, which makes the i10 a much more enjoyable and responsive car.

Vicky Parrott

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rssh 18 February 2008

Re: Hyundai i10

I have driven it 100km here in India .It is underpowered but the interiors are fantastic just waiting for the automatic to come here.