What is it?
The original Hyundai i10 was about as successful as any city car could hope to be.
Hyundai was already improving on its reputation for producing bottom-end ‘value’ offerings before the i10 was launched, but, thanks in part to a bit of economic collusion between industry and government, the five-door jelly bean was the hit single the Korean brand needed to properly force its way into buyers' consciousness.
While the i10 took full advantage of the unique circumstances created by the scrappage scheme, it’s worth remembering that it was already a six sailing high over the boundary before the Alastair Darling put a gust of wind behind it. Cheap, cheerful, spacious and robust would likely have been enough, but the car was also fun to drive, earning it (among other things) the accolade of being Autocar’s 2008 car of the year.
Given its critical and commercial success, the new i10 could probably have been triumphantly copied and pasted onto the market if Volkswagen hadn’t spent the past 18 months subtly changing the game. The VW Up, with its quality, refinement and comfort, showed the segment how easily a tiny urban runaround might be made to turn the heads of high-spending downsizers.
Hyundai may not like to name it specifically as a benchmark, but during an early preview of the new car (being cold weather quality tested in north Sweden), only one rival model was referenced by the engineers.
Thus the i10 moving slowly through the final stages of its development is considered by its makers to be a ‘more grown-up’ version of the UK bestseller. Beneath the camouflaging and familiar upright profile, the model has grown slightly at the wheelbase and track courtesy of a modified platform. But what Hyundai is really referring to is an open assault on the kit levels expected of a city car.
Cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, all-round electric windows, switchable ESP, keyless entry, push button start, climate control and even a heated steering wheel were all included on the test mule Autocar drove two months ago. Although undoubtedly spec-heavy for assessment purposes, it seems certain that Hyundai’s strategy for offering considerably more for much the same money will continue aboard the new i10.