It may not be immediately obvious, but a sub-13sec 0-60mph standing-start acceleration time such as the one the i10 recorded remains a pretty strong performance showing for an A-segment city car in 2020.
The little Hyundai has long been more powerful than most of its direct rivals and that has been an enduring selling point for four-cylinder, upper-level versions of the car. Now that it has both turbocharged and hybrid-assisted class opposition, however, the i10’s pleasingly authoritative drivability isn’t quite so distinguishing; and yet it remains a pretty clear strength.
The 1.2-litre engine doesn’t pull from low revs like a turbocharged three-pot alternative might but it still feels usefully torquey from low crank speeds and moves the car’s one-tonne mass along fairly easily. It’s also more smooth-running than the class-typical three-cylinder motor would be at and around idle and it has a more linear-feeling power delivery than some downsized turbo motors – both of which you might like about it.
With some cars in this class stuck with up to 25% less pulling power than this one, the gap between a full-sized supermini and a city car can feel rather large on the road and some city cars struggle for even remotely assured acceleration above 40mph. However, the i10 closes that gap to something quite negligible in most driving circumstances. It’s not gutsy, but gutsy enough to get up to the national speed limit without necessarily being revved to the redline in every gear or making you feel like you’re holding up the traffic.
Overtaking on single carriageways isn’t something you’ll consider too often, but tractors and HGVs can be picked off with a degree of urgency. The engine spins to 5000rpm without getting noisy or buzzy, although beyond that its refinement and flexibility aren’t quite so good – perhaps as a result of new WLTP-compliant electronic emissions controls that never afflicted previous, slightly sweeter-revving versions of the i10, which ran ostensibly the same engine.
The shift quality of the car’s five-speed manual gearbox is fairly light and pleasant and its braking performance (on range-topping 16in alloy wheels, don’t forget) fairly strong, metered through a progressive brake pedal.