What a pleasure to be reunited with the Hyundai i10. (Almost) pure delight.
Neil Lyndon gets up to speed in the Hyundai i10 Premium SE
When it was launched nearly four years ago, the i10 immediately established itself as the best in class for city cars. With a matchless combination of high-quality build and finish, refined driving dynamics, pleasing interior, plenty of space, competitive price and a five-year guarantee, it had a slight but sure edge over all its rivals – even including the estimable VW Up. I remember thinking “This has to be one of the cars of the year,” within 10 minutes of first getting behind the wheel of the i10 on its launch in early 2014. So it proved, as the i10 went on to hoover up a sackful of awards.
Such is the pace of development and innovation in this sector of the car industry, however, that the i10’s lead over the rest of the field – now including Suzuki’s Celerio – may have narrowed. This is a good moment, therefore, for Hyundai to bring out an updated and refreshed version and for us to remind ourselves of this little car’s sterling qualities.
The usual cheap and easy cosmetic fiddlings have been introduced to distinguish this refreshed version from the original, with some dickering around the radiator grille, the bumpers and the LED running lights. A black B pillar and rear spoiler with integral brake light mark out the Premium SE version. Hyundai would like to make out that these changes mark some kind of revolutionary change but, in truth, you might hardly notice them unless you put the new car alongside its predecessor.
The version we borrowed was the top-of-the-line i10 Premium SE, loaded with every bell and whistle in the catalogue and a 1250cc, four-cylinder 64 PS engine. Given my affection for the present generation of high-efficiency, three-cylinder, one-litre engines I was slightly disappointed not to receive that version of the i10 but the one that was actually delivered rapidly did away with any feelings of loss.
It was, in every sense, a proper grown-up car – not a little urban frou-frou for some brainless nursling of fashion. Brilliant for the school run with plenty of space for games bags under the hatch, it is also a lovely little car for a family of four on a day’s outing. Even with four up, this i10 is so perfectly at ease cruising at motorway speed or the national speed limit that I genuinely wouldn’t regard it as any kind of hardship to drive 300 miles in a day. At higher speeds, however, so little grunt remains to be called upon that overtaking is a ponderous exercise and the best approach on country roads is probably to resign yourself to creeping along in the line of traffic until the ones in front or you or turn off.
Hyundai have upped the quality of the audio/satnav system (with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and LIVE Services as standard in the Premium SE version) so the cabin is a composed and restful place to listen to music even at speed. To that civilising effect, they have added a pleasant cloth seat trim, leather wrapped and heated steering wheel, heated front seats and electric sunroof.
The price of our test car was £13350 – which is the kind of sum I associate with a work of art, not a city car – but that trauma was significantly offset by average fuel consumption of 53.6 mpg. That figure is within a whisker of the manufacturer’s claims even though my driving during our loan week could hardly be called conservative.
The Hyundai i10 is still a joy, then – even if not a very cheap joy.
Car reviewed: Hyundai i10 Premium SE – Base Price On the road £13,350 0-62mph 12.1secs Top speed 109mph Fuel Economy combined 57.6mpg CO2 emissions 114g/km Engine 1248cc 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve petrol Max Power [email protected] rpm Torque [email protected] Transmission 5-Speed manual
A very good city car
Refined driving dynamics
Well specced but slightly pricey