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.