Hot in the city as Hyundai builds on all-round appeal of i10

New Hyundai i10 is a big city car that makes an equally big impression.

New Hyundai i10 is a big city car that makes an equally big impression. - Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai's i10 city car has grown... along with its appeal, practicality and value, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

What graces my parking space each week at the office always attracts comments from colleagues. Some are desirable – cars not colleagues – and exciting but I have to say the new Hyundai i10 was at the other end of the scale.

Much better looking than its predecessor, this second generation i10 catches the eye but a city car is hardly going to set pulses racing. The i10 is a car that does not try to be anything that it isn't – it does exactly what is says on the tin.

The award-winning i10 is a car of its time. With many motorists downsizing to smaller cars, cutting motoring costs and looking for value when it comes to price, economy and emissions, cars like the i10 are grabbing their attention.

The new i10 has a lot going for it.

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Looking to build on the success of the first i10, which notched up 110,000 UK sales in five years, the stylish new model is less bulbous and looks more mature following in the wheel tracks of the bigger i20 and i30.

This i10 is on the large side for a city car – not far short of many smaller superminis – and that pays dividends when it comes to space and practicality, adding to the appeal. Hyundai says the i10 offers B-segment supermini value in an A-segment city car package with its bigger body along with standard and optional equipment typically found on more upmarket cars.

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A city car, designed for the cut and thrust of urban driving, does not need big engines and the i10 has 66PS three-cylinder 1.0-litre and 87PS four-cylinder 1.2-litre units.

Both are more about MPG than MPH and low emissions although only the 1.0-litre Blue Drive model dips below the road tax-dodging 100g/km of CO2 but it has only four seats to save weight instead of the five in S, SE and Premium versions.

I've tried both engines and the 1.0-litre makes up for its lack of capacity with a willingness to rev without getting thrashy and returned 50 to 60mpg in city and open-road driving respectively. The 1.2 has a bit more poke and can comfortably hold its own on motorways.

As the name suggests, a city car is in its element in the city so the way it deals with pock-marked, potholed, roadwork-scarred urban routes is more important than sporty handling on twisty roads. The i10 has a grown-up feel in the way it soaks up bumps and lumps and it also drives competently throught twists and turns on the open road. The only downside is that body roll gets noticeable if you really press on, but that's not what the i10 is really about, and the ride can become bouncy in the back.

A good city car needs a light feel to take the strain out of heavy traffic with lots of stop-starts and gear shifts and the i10 is a little peach. The brakes have plenty of bite without being fierce, the clutch pedal is effortlessly smooth so you won't up with thighs like Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and the five-speed manual box has a slick shift. You can also have a four-speed automatic with the 1.2-litre engine.

The steering makes light work of parking but rear visibility is restricted by small rear side windows and chunky C-pillars – large door mirrors help and rear sensors are available.

The bigger body – it's 80mm longer, 65mm wider but 50mm lower than its predecessor – adds up to class-leading legroom, with the ability to carry four large adults, and five at a push, and a 252-litre boot. It's not going to let you shop 'til you drop – although you could drop the 60/40 rear seat backs although they step up from the boot floor – but it's as good as it gets in this class.

There's a lot of hard plastic inside but it doesn't look cheapy and nasty and the contrasting blue trim panels on my test car added character. Simple dials, a high-level audio system and big rotary controls and buttons are well located and easy to use.

Available in S, S Air, SE and Premium trim levels, all i10s come with six airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, central locking, electric front windows, CD turner with USB port, daytime running lights, trip computer, tyre pressure monitoring and five-year unlimited mileage warranty, roadside assistance and vehicle health checks.

SE is the pick, adding air-con, remote locking, electric rear windows and heated door mirrors, upgraded trim and height-adjustable driver's seater's seat. Premium includes alloy wheels, Bluetooth with voice recognition, steering wheel controls, LED daytime running lights and front fog lamps.

The i10 may not be exciting but it is a sensible car you soon warm to – you could say it's hot in the city!

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