Hyundai says that some 31 percent of its buyers choose one of its models primarily because of the car’s styling – two percent above the industry average. Which, if accurate, is no bad reflection on the way its cars look.

The i10 is the first time that the company’s latest design language has stretched this far down the food chain, though, and it’s reflected in a city car that’s rather more stylish than the i10’s otherwise appealing predecessor.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
As with the majority of small cars, the i10 follows current front-drive conventionalism

The dimensions are, just about, still city car, but there’s less boxy functionality about the shape than before. The roof is 40mm lower than in the outgoing i10, while the length is up by some 80mm to 3665mm, despite the wheelbase (2385mm) only increasing by 5mm. You can blame an increased front overhang and pedestrian impact regulations for some of that.

Beneath the skin, the platform is all new and, like the powertrain, is designed and engineered in Europe. Built here, too. The engineering centre is in Rüsselsheim, Germany (it’s also the city where Adam Opel made his first sewing machine), and the i10 is built in Ízmit, Turkey.

New it might be, though, beyond intelligent material choices to reduce material weight and cost, you don’t get too much that’s fancy at this end of the market. The i10 has a steel monocoque with MacPherson struts at the front end, and a torsion beam at the rear.

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Power for the range comes from a choice of two petrol engines; there’s no point making a diesel for a car this light (the 1.0-litre model weighed 1000kg exactly on our scales) and cheap. Instead, there’s the 65bhp 1.0-litre, three-cylinder thrummer, or an 86bhp 1.2-litre four-pot as an option.

Both are from Hyundai’s ‘Kappa’ engine family and the 1.0 is available with LPG in some markets. When a car costs a little over nine grand, you don’t give it a hybrid system or anything extravagant. It doesn’t use a lot of fuel in the first place, so you just get every ounce you can from the engine.

To that end, the Kappa engine has an aluminium block and head to reduce weight, with cast iron liners. The crank is offset by 11mm, which Hyundai claims is more effective, while conical valve springs are said to be quieter.

Its valves and tappets have a hard-wearing ‘diamond-like carbon’ coating, while piston rings are also given a low-friction finish.

The five-speed manual gearbox hasn’t gone without attention, either. There is a carbonfibre coating on the syncromesh rings, while a lower oil capacity and lower-friction transmission oil than that used in the previous i10 is said to improve fuel consumption by one percent.

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