What is it?
The i10 is looking elderly these days. It’s still really cheap and still has a feeling of surprise quality inside, but the upright styling seems staid and sombre alongside rivals such as the VW Up and, indeed, its Kia Picanto sister car.
That it doesn’t sport the more exciting style of newer Hyundais is a pity, because it remains a very able car, both on paper and in practice. The badge is now less of an issue than it once was, too – if you’re not too fussed about having the latest new thing on your drive, the i10 is well worth a look.
The i10’s 1.2-litre engine needs a bit more oomph. Although entirely adequate for daily duties about town, it’s seriously short on puff if you suddenly have to take it to the Shires (the low-CO2 1.0-litre in the i10 Blue is even slower). The ride is also pretty punishing wherever you are, as you’d expect from something so wee, which can make the terrible state of Britain’s potted and patched roads a bit of a headache.
Those 85 horsepowers do make the tiny, lightweight i10 a blast to lean on through a corner, though, and the enduring impression left by a week with Korea’s answer to the Aygo is that this is a bit of a modern classic. It’s cheap, tinny and great fun to wring out through some roundabouts, just like the original Mini and Fiat 500. Don’t buy one and dry store it, though. It’s not that much of a classic.
On the inside
One of the areas where Korean car manufacture has taken a serious leap forward is in ‘perceived quality’, that old chestnut formally sewn up in Smallcarsville by the Volkswagen Group. The i10 is unashamedly basic, but it doesn’t have the cheap and plasticky look and feel of Hyundais gone by. Another boon in the city-car segment, and one that takes a sizeable chunk out of the European establishment, is that the i10 comes with bags of kit as standard and, crucially, five doors over the usual three. It’s still small in the back, but at least you can actually get to it here. Big bonus for the young mums for whom the i10 seems made to measure.
Hyundai and Kia both make a song and dance about their tremendous warranties, and although they’re not quite as comprehensive as the adverts would have you believe, they’re still a sight better than the usual fare. Couple that with increasingly impressive build quality and strong, effi cient engines, and i10 ownership looks exceptionally stress-free. If you have no interest in the badge on your bonnet, but can appreciate a nicely styled, intelligently packaged and well-sorted little car, look no further than the i10.