Give the Hyundai i10 a few years and it’ll be the fastest car in the world. Sceptical? Check out the stats. This is the new 1.2-litre petrol version and, despite the engine being just 162cc larger than the base-spec petrol, it’s 18 per cent more powerful, 20 per cent more torquey and – despite achieving the same emissions and economy – three seconds quicker to 60mph.
OK, so we’re still talking pretty modest numbers – 77bhp, 87lb ft and 12.8 seconds respectively – but imagine if they keep up that rate of progress with subsequent generations of engines. If they keep going at this rate, by the time they’ve fitted a 1.6-litre engine, it’ll put out 160bhp and hit 60mph in 0.8 seconds. That’s pretty quick.
In the meantime, though, this i10 will do just fine. Put simply, it’s a proper little cracker. Don’t be fooled by the i10’s pensioner-spec exterior: there’s plenty of clever tech going on in the engine here – hydraulic lash adjustors, beehive valve springs and an offset crank – all of which combine to make the i10 feel quite unlike a budget city car. It’s almost silent at tickover, revs cleanly and – thanks in part to sensible gearing – is unobtrusive even at motorway speeds. There’s enough power for all the around-town stuff: it’s only when you start loading the i10 with shot-putters that it starts to strain.
And – whisper it in case it invalidates your five-year warranty – the i10’s actually a bit of a laugh to drive. OK, the skinny tyres mean grip levels are tenuous at best, but the i10 is so light that it’ll happily indulge in a bit of 205 GTi-style silliness on wet roundabouts. Compared to its three-cylinder rivals from Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota, the i10 is in a different league. The new Ka? Close one.
Before I implode in a flash of eulogy, there are a couple of quibbles. Reach-adjustable steering would be nice, and do wonders for the slightly awkward seating position. And, if we’re being honest, the i10 still looks like the sort of car you’d find parked in droves outside a south-coast retirement home.
But ignore all that. Even the top-spec 1.2 is just over eight grand – only £200 more than the vastly inferior 1.1-litre i10 – and you get alloys and electric stuff and basically everything you could ever need from a little city car. And it’ll manage 56mpg and sneak under the 120g/km CO2 tax bracket. What more could you want? Apart from that imminent hypersonic version...