Ten years ago, Hyundais didn’t have much going for them besides their budget price tags and extended warranties. Ten years from now, however, you’d bet on them making several class-leading cars, particularly considering the improving form that the likes of the i30 and Genesis saloon demonstrate.
Which is why, in years to come, I think we’ll look back at the Hyundai i10 – the first car the firm has ever built which stands head and shoulders above its rivals – and wonder if it wasn’t one of the most significant cars ever.
Drive one in isolation and you might think of this car as pretty unremarkable. It is, after all, an average looking city car with average performance. It’s not even the cheapest model in the A-segment, which is the position you might expect a Hyundai city car to occupy.
But the i10’s qualities are easily overlooked. Its precise and feelsome steering, willing gearchange, robust and impressive cabin quality, hushed rolling refinement and polished handling would be easy to match with, say, a new Ford Focus or a VW Golf. But it’s tricky to find a car that’s even half as good that’s also this small, or available for £7000.
And if the i10 is the first truly excellent car from a Korean brand, we should also remember that it’s built in Chennai, which could also make it the first truly excellent car built in India. In my book, that makes it doubly significant. The perfect 21st century success story, you might say.