A perfect ten?
Handing in a test at school on an old tatty sheet of paper, won't make a good impression. When going for a perfect ten, the presentation is important as well. That's why the new Hyundai i10 isn't narrow and tall, like the previous generation, but wide and low. As with all modern models the i10 features Hyundai's trademark "hexagonal" grille.
The result is a solid, modern looking vehicle. Compared to its rivals the i10 gives a more mature feeling. Also important: the i10 is a tad larger than the average in this class.
Hyundai strives for perfection and it shows in the cabin. There's not a single piece of bare metal to be seen and the fabrics are of the same quality as used in the larger Hyundais. The dashboard looks a bit more frivolous thanks to highlights in the colour of the exterior of the car.
The low roofline doesn't go at the expense of the cabin space. The seats have simply been lowered. This does mean that the raised seating position of the previous generation has now gone. The i10 is more of a regular car and less of a small MPV. The front seats are nice and big. The headrests aren't just for show: they can be adjusted so that they even add to the safety of tall drivers.
At first glance the room in the back seems minimal. However, once on the back seat it turns out the back of the front seats are soft, so that the knees of the rear passengers "fit" into the front seats. The soft cushions of the back seat also mean the passengers sit deeper, which adds precious millimetres of legroom.
The boot has a low floor, but a high threshhold. In other words: loading and unloading requires some extra effort, but there's enough room (252 litres) for all luggage.
The test vehicle is a "Premium" edition, which means spec levels can be compared to cars from a higher segment. Luxury items like an electrically heated steering wheel, alarm, keyless entry and hill start assist (prevents rolling backwards when setting off on a hill) are all available.
Even the base models are fitted with a radio/CD-player and USB connection as standard. The iPhone is always supported, no need for special cables or complicated converters. The sound quality of the audio system is flat and cold, yet this is better than a system that can't perform at all and tries to hide it by producing excess high and low to mask its limitations. A nice detail: both the audio system and the phone (Bluetooth) can be operated using buttons on the steering wheel.
When it comes to safety the i10 leaves little to be desired. Six airbags, traction control and an electronic stability programme ("ESP") all come as standard. Even a tyre pressure monitor is standard equipment. The latter doesn't only improve safety, but also makes the car more economic to drive since low tyre pressure means extra fuel costs.
The i10 is available with a 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol engine. The same engine was used in the previous i10, but for this next generation it has been improved in many ways. The biggest advantage of a three-cylinder engine is its excellent fuel efficiency. The most important drawbacks are the vibrations and extra noise.
Hyundai managed to make this tiny engine run so smoothly that only the odd noise is a telltale sign that this is a three-cylinder. Once at cruising speed the noises decrease as well. The performance of the 66 PS / 94 Nm strong 'Kappa' engine is mediocre. A sprint from 0 to 62 mph costs a whopping 15 seconds while its top speed is a modest 155 km/h.
Yet, the i10 doesn't feel sluggish and that's thanks to the engine's lively disposition. Even pressing harder on the accelerator, a reaction follows immediately. While the acceleration itself is still modest, this makes the car feel responsive. Smart engineering!
To improve fuel efficiency, Hyundai fits the i10 with a gear shift indicator and an idle stop mechanism. Despite a very demanding test route (mostly mountain roads and city traffic) fuel consumption was limited to 5 litres per 100 km (factory figure: 4.2 litres per 100 km).
The i10 can be fitted with a trailer hitch, but may not actually pull a trailer. The hitch can be used to mount a bicycle carrier. The maximum pressure is 75 kg, so that electric bicycles can also be transported safely.
Next to the 1.0 litre engine a 1.2 litre power plant is available. This is also an improved version of an existing engine. This bigger engine has four cylinders, performs with more ease (87 PS / 120 Nm) and is quieter than the base model. Because of this the "i10 1.2" feels like a bigger and more mature car. Do keep in mind that fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are much higher than with the 1.0 litre engine, so chances are that taxes may also be significantly higher.
By making the i10 wider and lower it doesn't just look better than before, it also handles better. Compared to other small cars the i10 is more stable and more comfortable on long distances. When cornering the driver feels this car is more capable than usual.
Despite the longer wheelbase, the turning circle is remarkably small. In city traffic this is very useful. One can make a turn at the very, very last moment. Tight turns in public garages are no problem either. So even up to the very last part of the test drive the i10 performed flawlessly.
Does the new Hyundai i10 score a perfect ten? This first, short drive does give a very positive impression. The car ticks every box and couldn't be faulted in any way.
Yet, Hyundai didn't perform miracles. The i10 is economic, but not quick. The i10 manages to make the best of its modest exterior dimensions, but isn't as spacious as a car from a higher segment. The price is competitive, but when going for a luxurious version the amount adds up very quickly. Still, within the limits of a small car at a small price Hyundai did do an excellent job.