Students of the city car art will remember a time when the Hyundai i10 dominated this class simply by offering more for the money than the competition could muster.

Plenty of power and flexible performance were among its biggest weapons in overcoming any claim of the Citroën C1 or Suzuki Alto to our affections six years ago.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
In the UK, automatic stop-start appears on Blue Drive i10s

For the new i10, life could hardly be more different. In 65bhp 1.0-litre form it finds itself down on power compared with equivalent versions of plenty of competitors – the Chevrolet Spark and the Ford Ka+ included.

The i10 does a lot of things well out on the road. It’s well mannered for something so small and light, with a relatively quiet and smooth engine, a pleasant clutch pedal and a gear lever which, for the most part, is light and slick.

It’s just that the gear lever isn't quite as light or slick as that of the old i10, it seems to us – and it doesn’t take reverse as willingly as it should.

Nobody expects peppy performance in this part of the market. It was a delight to find in the last i10, but you certainly won’t find it in the 1.0-litre version of the new one. Acceleration is quite gentle even at full power.

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It’s fine for city motoring but limiting out of town. The VW Up we tested needs 2.2sec less to get from 30-70mph through the gears and almost six seconds less to hit 80mph from a standing start.

We’ll do Hyundai the courtesy of admitting here and now that the Up we tested wasn’t the 59bhp version this i10 directly competes against; that perhaps stretches the boundaries of fairness and loads the dice against the newcomer a bit.

Hyundai’s 86bhp 1.2-litre i10 addresses the above issues, offering the requisite additional punch to liven the car up a little, but for the kind of price you simply wouldn’t have been asked to pay six years ago.

But the conclusion is the same: somehow, this car just ain’t what it used to be.

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