From £10,0306
Gets the turbocharged engine the i10 always needed, but styling revisions, performance enhancements and a price it could do without

What is it?

Meet the range-topping new addition to Hyundai’s i10 city car line.

The i10 N Line adds turbo power to the car’s under-bonnet armoury for the first time for as long as there has been an i10. It’s powered by a 1.0-litre turbo three-pot petrol motor making 99bhp and 127lb ft of torque. Not quite enough, perhaps, for the car to stand alongside the slightly peppier and widely acclaimed Volkswagen Up GTI, but Hyundai clearly believes otherwise and has priced this car with ambition to go head to head with the VW.

Should it have? Well, sporty superminis have certainly been built on less. This car does have very shiny pedals and some jazzy red exterior styling parts, after all. It has gently overhauled suspension, too - stiffer coil springs, retuned dampers and new rear axle bump stops - and some snazzy 16in alloy wheels. And it also benefits from the generous hand with equipment and in-car tech that Hyundai lavishes on the i10 as a whole range; so it gets an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android phones as standard, as well as plenty of active safety features of the kind that you can imagine might well help sell a car like this.

Having said that, they’re also the things that might sell a much more modest £11,000, entry-level i10. So, besides the embellishments, how much more does this top-of-the-range version have going on?

What's it like?

Those suspension changes add a thin but just-perceptible layer of extra body control and chassis response over and above the level of an ordinary i10; which, by city car standards, is a tidy-handling prospect, but doesn't offer much driver entertainment these days to those used to better-handling, full-sized superminis. 

The N Line version offers only the very mildest sprinkling of extra sporting seasoning, then. It's competent and nice to rub along with, but to suggest that it grips, steers or corners in a way that smacks of a junior warm hatchback would be misleading.

The good news is that Hyundai’s rolling chassis changes haven’t compromised the i10’s ride comfort or urban drivability, both of which remain good. This is, in dynamically broad scope, an easy-going, well-sorted little car with an air of big-car sophistication about it that will carry you around from A to B agreeably - albeit with the merest edge of firmness about the ride over uneven surfaces.

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That engine, meanwhile, adds welcome drivability for the car, but not the extra audible and textural fizz that anyone ‘cross-shopping’ with a VW Up GTI might hope to come with it. There's enough torque for at least a little urgency through the higher gears, which most city cars certainly don't offer. You wouldn’t go so far as to call the car’s performance ‘fun’, though, since the motor doesn’t spin beyond 5000rpm particularly freely and doesn't sound all that characterful. Beneath the new shiny gearknob, the shift quality of the car’s five-speed manual gearbox is respectable but no better.

Hyundai’s interior styling tweaks make the i10 N Line identifiable as an attempt at sporting flavour, but only just. The new N-branded seats are hardly any different from the car’s normal ones, no more adjustable and little more supportive. The chrome pedals, N-branded primary controls and red air vent adornments, meanwhile, are nice enough; although they do seem like the kind of additions so often reached for to make up for a ‘sporty’ driving experience that isn’t as clearly distinguished as it might be.

Should I buy one?

Well, the ingredients and characteristics we’ve just covered are what we might call ‘the trees’ for this car. And ‘the wood’ that the Hyundai product planners appear to have missed? That because Hyundai’s N brand doesn’t confer much desirability yet and the car’s design makeover is somewhat half-heated, none of these things makes it a credible alternative to the Up GTI. Except, perhaps, on a spreadsheet.

The N brand is, after all, only one fully fledged hot hatchback old as far as UK enthusiasts are concerned - and that car was by no means universally recognised as a world-beater. When VW put the GTI badge on an Up, it did so having developed an only marginally more compelling driving experience for the car than Hyundai has; but also with so many decades of investment having gone into what the GTI badge stands for, and knowing it would mean something to people. To put it another way, VW didn't forget to make a lot of very memorable drivers cars first.

Having only driven this one N Line offering, I’ll admit that I’m not the greatest authority on them. Perhaps I just expected more of a 99bhp bit of fun city car than it was really fair to (although, to me, the fun part was what seemed to be missing). 

But for Hyundai, in contrast to VW, it seems very early days to be sweating a performance sub-brand like this - to be using it to charge £2500 more for a top-end i10 than Kia charges for a Picanto with the very same engine - when that sub-brand is still very much in the process of being built.

Hyundai i10 N Line specification

Where Buckinghamshire, UK Price £16,195 On sale Now Engine 3 cyls in line, 998cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 99bhp at 4500rpm Torque 127lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual Kerb weight 1024kg 0-62mph 10.5sec Top speed 115mph Fuel economy 52.3mpg CO2, tax band 123g/km, 27% Rivals VW Up GTI, Kia Picanto 1.0 T-GDI GT-Line S

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Comments
6

15 July 2020

Sorry but the words warm, sport and gti should not be in this review, it's just had 10 pounds worth of suspension upgrades to justify the crazy price.  In no way is it a sporting rival to the Up gti other than in price

15 July 2020

"The new N-branded seats are hardly any different from the car’s normal ones, no more adjustable and little more supportive."

As this is just an N-Line rather than a full N version is this so surprising?

I've never seen a review yet of the Up GTi that makes a similar comment on that model, and as the Up is a 'proper' GTi it's ridiculous that it makes do with just tartan trimmed standard seats. Its really tight of VW, and a massive negative for me, especially when, for example, the group can fit superior seats in models such as Skoda's Monte Carlo trim. The price of this i10 is very optimistic though, and the lack of a more stylish 3-door limits its appeal further.

15 July 2020
I'm sure the up GTi was criticized for its seats not being supportive, or particularly sporty, though that may have been in the comments section, but I agree, it is a pointless negative, as you say this isn't an N, it's an N line, like ST line and R line etc, but as such it is too expensive.

15 July 2020
A shame it doesn't appear to have regained the fun aspect that the first i10 had, and it really should be cheaper, irrespective of its kit count over the picanto equivalent or up GTi.

15 July 2020

Agree with most of the comments here, but the turbocharged tripple would work well lower down the range. An 1 litre SE Turbo at a modest premium would make a great little car in the same mould as the 100bhp Fiat Panda. 

In the meantime, the Kia Picanto looks like a far better option.   

26 July 2020

Hyundai i10 line 2020 is nice but the price is to high. 

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