We’ve praised the i10 quite highly over the years for going that little bit above and beyond the city car norm for driver appeal. Although it has never been an obvious choice for enthusiasts, the i10’s game engine has generally combined well with a chassis blessed with enough body control and handling precision that it takes surprisingly willingly to being hustled along. It has also come across as a car with a pretty simple character, quite plainly not intended to be perceived as anything other than small, light and fairly zippy.

You get the sense that the i10’s dynamic brief has now become a little more complicated. Having become lower and wider overall, and slightly quicker-geared through the steering, the car ought to perhaps feel more agile than it once did; but it has also had its wheelbase stretched. Net result? That handling mostly dodges any sense of precariousness related to the i10’s size and body profile, and it mixes agility with grip, body control and high-speed stability well enough to feel like a bigger supermini most – if not quite all – of the time.

Handling mixes agility with grip, body control and high-speed stability well enough to feel like a bigger supermini most – if not quite all – of the time

Is it fun to drive? Perhaps not as much as previous i10s were; that’s the honest answer. Improved lateral body control and cornering stability certainly make it a shade more serious-feeling, as well as more stable, when driven quickly.

Vertical body control is less closely controlled than roll, and pitch control remains a persistent challenge for a car so short and high-stacked in its profile. Mostly, then, it’s heave and jounce that guard the edges of the car’s comfort zone during national speed-limit cross-country driving on testing surfaces.

Neither is ever likely to destabilise the car, though, thanks to electronic stability controls that work subtly at first but always effectively and good underlying handling stability at the limit of grip. The only caveat to that stability we observed at the track was under heavy braking from motorway speeds, when the i10 pitched sharply enough under full pedal pressure to wander a little before stabilising on its nose and needing steering correction on repeated runs.

Assisted driving notes

You don’t need to add very many active safety features to a city car to make it class leading. Still, if anything, Hyundai has probably gone overboard to deliver that key safety selling point. (The firm hasn’t yet had Euro NCAP crash test results through for the car but they should be coming.)

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Every i10 gets a forward-facing camera and standard AEB, or autonomous emergency braking (branded ‘FCA’), which includes pedestrian detection, a rarity on city cars. A lane-keeping system with separate departure alert and lane-keeping assist (LKAS) modes is also standard, as is a simplified driving monitoring system. Both the AEB and LKAS are switchable for sensitivity, and neither becomes intrusive in any case, although most testers preferred the dialled-back settings.

It seems odd, however, for Hyundai to make driver monitoring standard and a speed limit recognition system optional when the latter would be more valued by many customers.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

A driving position with surprising space around your extremities and a seat that positions and holds you square at the controls combine to get the i10 off to a good start here.

There’s an edge of firmness about the car’s suspension but it rides bumps at low speeds with decent compliance, only becoming slightly fidgety above 50mph when faced with recurrent high-frequency inputs.

The ride isolation of our test car was a little disappointing, with plenty of surface roar permitted into the cabin from the road through the suspension springs and mountings, and making for a slightly hollow impression to the ride overall.

This could well have been partly attributable to the 16in alloy wheels of our test car, of course, with secondary ride refinement having at least potential to improve on the mid-level 15in wheels that are likely to appear on the majority of cars.

Mechanical refinement is quite good, at least until you get to the upper reaches of the rev range. A clutch with a slightly woolly and unpredictable biting point made step-off in our test car a little less smooth than it might have been, but greater familiarity might well have made for better ease of operation.

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