Years ago, you would reluctantly buy a city car if you required small and practical. Nowadays, while still practical thanks to their size, they can also be comfortable, and believe it or not, even good fun to drive. But, while the segment is packed with options, it’s important to remember that not all city cars are made equally. Here you’ll see why the Hyundai i10 is a quietly confident contender which you’d be a fool to overlook.
Performance and drive
The i10 comes with a five-speed manual gearbox with all engine choices. We would recommend sticking with a manual rather than opting for an automatic which seems to lack performance power. The vehicle size aids a tight turning circle, and you will find the steering to be light and precise. Perfect for town and city driving, the three-cylinder engine makes for a fun and nippy drive. The highest-end trim level has stiffer springs which lend itself to a firmer ride, meaning it rolls less in bends. Though regardless of trim or engine choice you may not feel as confident behind the wheel when faced with motorway driving. But then again, if you’re shopping in this segment, we can’t foresee this being too much of an issue.
Trim levels and features
There is a choice of four trims: SE, SE Connect, Premium and N Line. The entry-level trim comes with a decent standard package which includes air-con, front and rear electric windows, automatic lights, and cruise control. Mid-level SE Connect then includes a rear-view camera and 15inch alloy wheels rather than the basic wheel trims. When you reach this level you can opt for the 1.2 MPi 84 engine which would be our choice. Unfortunately, the basic radio and 3.8inch black and white infotainment system are less than impressive. For a far more improved 8inch display and rear speakers choose the Premium or N Line trim. This system is similar to that in the Kia Picanto and much better the Volkswagen Up!.
The Premium trim offers a heated steering wheel and front seat as well as 16inch alloy wheels and privacy glass. Top-end N Line trim is where we see some sportiness in terms of styling, as well as the more powerful engine and suspension differences.
Everything on the dash and within the centre console is exactly where you would expect, with easy to find and navigate menus. Apple carplay and Android Auto are standard, so you have access to calls and apps when out on the road. Motorists who would like built-in navigation will need to opt for the higher Premium or N Line trim level and pay extra for the Tech Pack. This also includes a wireless phone charging station and an app which allows you to remotely access the central locking system, and conduct car maintenance checks.
Ride and interior
It was once decided that comfort need not be prioritised when designing a city car and almost all car manufacturers followed suit. We suppose the logic was based on the fact that most city car drivers would be doing short quick trips and thus comfort was simply not of importance. While it helped to keep costs low, the car market has come a long way since then and buyers are now looking for as much as they can get for their money. Hyundai seems to have understood this as the i10 is class-leading where comfort is concerned.
The interior, however, is standard in comparison to rivals such as the Volkswagen Up! and the Kia Picanto. Yes, you will find hard plastics, but they don’t come across as cheap as we’ve seen in other models and they are helped with the soft leather steering wheel and gearstick. The Premium trim model has an attractive hexagonal pattern on the hard surfaces and the N Line trim has a bit more of a sporty appeal both inside and out.
Despite the i10 being a five-seater, it is unlikely you would be able to fit three adults in the back. Not comfortably at least. Whereas, two adults would each have sufficient head and legroom, an impressive feat in itself for most city cars. The rear seats split in typical 60/40 fashion at the press of a button. If you’re able to negotiate shopping bags or suitcases over the fairly high lip from the tailgate, you’ll be able to take advantage of the 252 litres of space available. To beat this overall size and space for the same value you would have to opt for the Dacia Sandero supermini.
We will admit that upfront costs to own the Hyundai i10 outright seem high at first glance. Although, as we’ve mentioned above, you get a lot of space and equipment for your money. When you further investigate the costs involved, you’ll find the i10 appears to be retaining its value better when it comes to reselling compared to other models within the sector. Competitive monthly PCP deals and leasing costs are available too. For these reasons we would suggest you stop and consider the i10 a little more seriously if you’re shopping around. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in a car that could outperform many bigger, more expensive vehicles from superior classes?