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Technically, of course, a bargain doesn’t have to be cheap. Even a supercar could be considered a steal, assuming its performance blew you away and it came with a laser-guided hamster to valet park it. But no supercar was launched with one of those this year, so the Hyundai i10 collects TopGear’s coveted Bargain of the Year award.

It might not be the most exciting car launched in 2013, but it gives customers exactly what they want, and for not much more than the deposit on most premium saloons.

Prices start at just £8,345 for the perky 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, and the best news is that this little powerplant is the pick of the range. But the Hyundai is about so much more than simply being cheap. Of course, the i10 absolutely nails the city-car brief - cheap, practical, able to manage the motorway grind as much as the urban crawl - but the reason it gets our Bargain of the Year award is because of what it brings to the city-car class. Merc-like levels of refinement and quality.

Really. It’s as library-quiet as cars three or four times the price, with virtually no wind or road noise. Customers might want luxuries and gadgets, but they expect refinement. The i10 absolutely delivers on the value-for-money premise.

If you buy other budget cars, there are always compromises: with the i10, there aren’t. This is definitely not a car with the build quality of a biscuit tin. The fit and finish is excellent, it looks great, it’s comfortable and spacious - it’s even available with a heated steering wheel.

And that’s what really sets the i10 apart. You can jump into this thing and not feel like you’ve bought ‘budget’. And yet you have. Cheap and cheerful? Embrace it… it’s no longer a bad thing.

Pictures: Justin Leighton/manufacturer

This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine 

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