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.
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.