Hyundai's new city car is likeable, comfortable and competent, but notable road noise spoils the overall package

What is it?

The Hyundai i10 has long been a popular and well-received compact city car. It earnt a solid four stars in our original road test, back in 2008, and was a distinguished contender in its sector.Since then, however, the likes of the Volkswagen Up have further raised the bar with regards to quality, comfort and ease of use.

Unperturbed, Hyundai is now returning fire with its “New Generation” i10. It’s more spacious than its predecessor, reputedly more refined and offered with a wide range of equipment. For example, buyers can specify climate control, a heated leather steering wheel, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity with voice control.

We tested a mid-specification 'SE' model with the entry-level 1.0-litre engine. It costs £9,295, several hundred pounds less than the equivalent Volkswagen Up. Standard kit includes air-con, electric heated mirrors and USB connectivity.

What's it like?

As you’d hope for a small city car, the Hyundai is easy to drive. The engine is smooth and relatively flexible, the controls are light and precise, and it rides in a controlled and composed fashion. It cruises happily at motorway speeds too; the overall feel is of a solid and mature product.

By no means is it the most engaging car to drive, with its steering being in distinct need of a little more weight and feedback, but elements like a delightfully accurate and slick gearshift do endow it with some charm.

Inside you’ll find a spacious and comfortable interior. There's plenty of room for front occupants, with lots of leg and headroom, and myriad useful storage points. The steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach but, during testing, it wasn't difficult to find a comfortable driving position.

There's adequate room for two adults in the back, with enough head and legroom to easily accomodate those up to six-feet tall. If necessary, it can seat three at a push - but they'll most likely only want to entertain short trips. Three rear headrests are fitted, boosting comfort and safety, but there's no centre arm rest.

The Hyundai even sports a decent 252-litre boot, a solitary litre larger than that of the aforementioned Volkswagen, and the rear seats fold to increase space further. A lack of a spare wheel as standard may irk some; if you're venturing afar regularly this may be an issue, so it's worth buying the optional one for £50.

One particularly impressive aspect of the i10 is its high standard of fit and finish. Admittedly some of the plastics in the cabin feel a little harsh, but the overall impression is of a quality product. The switchgear, for example, is pleasingly tactile and well finished. There were no rattles or squeaks apparent either, even on rougher roads.

Hyundai claims that the i10 will average a very reasonable 60.1mpg; during testing we easily returned an indicated 40mpg and it's likely that most will average upwards of 45mpg in day-to-day use. Consequently, thanks to a 40-litre fuel tank, the i10 should travel around a substantial 400 miles on a full tank.

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Should I buy one?

If you're in the market for a practical small car that's easy to live with, the Hyundai i10 should certainly be on your potential candidates list. It's well equipped, comfortable, effortless to drive and surprisingly endearing thanks to its eager engine and solid feel.

The only bone of contention is with the degree of road noise on some surfaces. Even on seemingly well-finished roads, and despite a range of noise countermeasures, a persistent hum can permeate the cabin.

If you’re particularly sensitive to these kinds of things, it may become infuriating - so do test drive one first.

Some buyers may also be disappointed to find that, unless you opt for a Blue Drive model, the Hyundai doesn’t qualify for road tax exemption.

Nevertheless, considering its positive aspects, five-year warranty, impressive reliability and host of servicing plans, the new Hyundai i10 is an appealing option.

As an alternative to the likes of a Fiat Panda, Kia Picanto or Volkswagen Up, it's well worth considering.

Hyundai i10 SE 1.0 66PS petrol manual

Price £9295; 0-62mph 14.9sec; Top speed 96mph; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 933kg; Engine 998cc, three cylinder, naturally aspirated, petrol; Power 65bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3500rpm; Gearbox Five-speed manual

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n50pap 8 January 2014

Might be better with its Kia cousin?

The Kia Picanto offers sub 100g/km motoring with what is, I presume, the same engine. The quoted emissions are the same as the old 1.2 litre i10 resulting in a £20 annual MVL. Even the 107, C1 and Aygo trio have managed to offer sub 100g/km motoring and they're decidedly long in the tooth. Perhaps Hyundai have missed a trick here, since the previous i10 Blue was MVL free.
Andrew Lee 7 January 2014


It looks very anonymous now. Whereas the previous model had a lot more character, albeit that of a small-wheeled toy car. I'd opt for an up! though.
bdodkin 7 January 2014

Hyundai i10

I have new a crdi Hyundai i30 and love it but as apparently with the new i10, am surprised at the amount of road noise especially as the refinement and ease of driving is otherwise so good. Hyundai have got to pay more attention to this.