The i10’s big asset in this department is how inoffensive it is. How well it copes, for example, when taken out of its comfort zone, plonked on the M1 at a 75mph cruise next to articulated lorries and executive saloons, battered by crosswinds and upset by uneven surfaces.
Bad-handling small cars can suddenly feel very small indeed if they don’t have motorway stability, good resistance to roll and pitch and the easy high-speed touring manners of, say, your average full-size hatchback.
But the Hyundai has all of the above. Patience-testing performance aside, this car has more than enough ride composure and directional security to make regular appearances on the motorway in rush hour, and on cross-country roads.
The i10’s steering is well weighted: light (just as it should be for something this size) but consistent and predictable when returning to the straight-ahead.
Though it’s quite softly sprung, the i10 doesn’t ride with the compliance of a VW Up, and there’s a little bit of excitement in the secondary ride you could live without. Nothing that interferes for more than the odd moment, though. For the most part, this car handles with competent maturity.
But the incisiveness we once responded to in the handling mix of the i10 is long gone. The car handles tidily at low speeds, but finds only as much grip around roundabouts and tight junctions as you expect it to, and flatly refuses to engage with attempts at playfulness from behind the wheel.
The i10 coped admirably with the tasks before it on MIRA’s wet and dry handling circuits. As hard as it seemed to actually accumulate enough speed to test them, the car’s tyres provided more than enough grip on both tracks to satisfy any reasonable requirement, and those grip levels were well matched to progressive body control, an intelligent stability control system and a handling balance biased towards stability at the limit.
There are few nasty dynamic tendencies to unearth in this car. Turn the ESP off and you’ll find that gathering understeer is all that awaits you when the road is dry.
In the wet, the i10 can be more of a handful. Its shortness of wheelbase, high roll axis and limited lateral grip makes for quite sudden lift-off oversteer when push comes to shove, which can be hard to recover due to the lack of power and traction up front. But this is common in cars of this type. More to the point, leave the ESP on and you’ll simply never encounter the consequences.