What is it?
This is Hyundai’s latest attempt to keep its best-selling i10 relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Released back in 2012, the small city car from Seoul has always been a firm favourite of ours thanks to its class-leading build quality, versatile interior space and high residual values. But let’s face it, the little i10 has never been particularly exciting, aesthetically or dynamically.
Hyundai is looking to change that, however, with a host of changes that should, on paper at least, bring the i10 closer to the class-leading Volkswagen Up. Styling wise, a new grille, LED daytime running lights, reprofiled bumpers and new 14in wheels help sharpen up the cutesy looks, while the interior gets a refresh with a range of new trims.
The most significant change is the addition of an all-new infotainment system. Available only on range-topping Premium SE trim, the new 7.0in touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality as well as satellite navigation and live updates. Compared with the Up, which requires buyers to use their smartphone as a sat-nav, this could be a real deal breaker for buyers.
What's it like?
Aside from a slightly quicker steering rack and a larger front bump stop, the 2017 i10 is more or less mechanically identical to the model it replaces, which is no bad thing. We’ve always been impressed by the Hyundai’s remarkable ability to work just as well in the city as it does in the country, and the same remains true here.
Despite having a slighter firmer ride than both the VW Up and Renault Twingo, the i10 is surprisingly less fidgety over scarred city roads. Even on the larger 15in wheels fitted to our test car, sharp imperfections are soaked up with relative aplomb. That said, the 1.2's light clutch pedal and overly sensitive throttle can make low-speed manoeuvres feel somewhat clumsy and haphazard, so inner-city driving isn’t as effortless as it could be.
Venture out of the city and onto faster-moving roads and the i10 continues to impress – to a point. Thanks to impressive body control, the i10 is genuinely good fun to hustle down a B-road. Push on further, though, and, despite the revisions made to the steering, the lack of feedback through the wheel is a real limitation. Through quicker corners you often find yourself second-guessing your initial inputs, which robs you of confidence.
Under the bonnet, the i10’s 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine remains untouched. It’s a gutsy unit, and our engine of choice, but there’s no denying that it’s starting to feel a bit long in the tooth, especially when compared with the more powerful turbocharged units from VW and Renault. With peak power coming in at a heady 6000rpm, the engine needs working hard to access its best performance. Around town this is less of a problem, but as soon as you join faster-flowing traffic the engine's initial lack of urgency can become frustrating.
Inside, the i10’s cabin remains functional and robust but doesn't offer the same charm or sharp design that you'll find in premium rivals. That said, the interior has been lifted by the addition of the new infotainment system. Controlled via a 7.0in touchscreen, the new system is a vast improvement over the previous monochrome unit. Connecting your phone via Bluetooth is a breeze, the screen itself is clear and responsive and the TomTom-based sat-nav gives real-time updates.
Should I buy one?
The i10’s sophisticated ride, impressive residuals, class-leading space and commendable performance are a compelling mix. Add a new infotainment system into the mix and it is arguably the most rounded city car in its class.
However, the Hyundai still lacks the outright performance and dynamic sparkle of the class leading VW Up. The Up is also £345 less to buy, is more frugal in the real world and is fractionally cheaper to tax. Ultimately, subjective considerations may decide which is preferable, but from a dynamic perspective, keener drivers will still get more from an Up, while those more concerned with practicality would be better to consider the i10. It's as simple as that.
2016 Hyundai i10 1.2 Premium
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £12,800; Engine 4 cyls, 1248cc, petrol; Power 86bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 118lb ft at 6000rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 941kg; 0-62mph 12.3sec; Top speed 109mph; Economy 57.6mpg (combined); CO2 rating/BIK tax band 114g/km, 19% Rivals Skoda Citigo 1.0 SE L, Volkswagen Up 1.0 90 High Up