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The Top Gear car review: Hyundai i10
For:Comfortable, good tech/equipment, smooth and grown-up to drive
Against:Dodgy auto gearbox, steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, lane-keeping overzealous
What is it?
A new city car, which for several reasons is something of a rarity nowadays.
One issue is profit, or a lack thereof. Small cars like the Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Renault Twingo, Fiat Panda and so-on have never earned their manufacturers much money because they cost just as much cash to develop as big cars (seriously clever engineering is required to pack everything in) - and nowadays have to come as standard with much of the same expensive infotainment and safety tech’ - but of course retail for much, much less.
And things are about to get even more difficult - from next year all mainstream car manufacturers have to comply with strict new emissions rules that are set to make offering ‘A-segment’ cars like the i10 even harder. A manufacturer must achieve a ‘fleet average’ of 95g/km of CO2 - meaning it can sell cars that emit more than that, but will have to offset them with enough low- and zero-emission hybrids and EVs to get the company-wide average down. The fines for missing the target are massive.
Getting a purely internal-combustion engine car to emit less than 95g/km of CO2 is challenging to say the least. It really requires some form of electrification. Easy in a big car, less so in a small one, at least without jacking up the price significantly (not good, in a city car) and adding much weight and complication to what are supposed to be light, simple machines.
So with that in mind, and amid falling sales as buyers flock to SUVs of varying sizes and types, some manufacturers are choosing to get out of the city car game altogether - Vauxhall no longer sells the Viva or Adam in Britain, Renault has canned the Twingo and there are serious questions about whether Citroen and Peugeot will ever replace the C1 and 108. Meanwhile the VW Group has gone electric - petrol-powered versions of the Seat Mini and Skoda Citigo are no more, and the VW Up range has been massively simplified.
But Hyundai has found a way to make it work. The i10 is its bread and butter - more than a million have been sold since the original came out in 2007, and the company reckons that a) there’s still sufficient demand for cars like this and b) it can do it profitably, using its broad range of sub-95g/km electrified cars (of which the i10 will not be one for the foreseeable) to offset CO2 emissions of at most 105g/km.
It sits on an all-new platform, with a longer wheelbase for increased passenger and cargo space, but uses the same small, naturally-aspirated petrol engines as the outgoing car. There’s loads of tech’ - most versions get an eight-inch touchscreen with CarPlay, and all get a lane-keeping, high-beam and hill-start assist. Prices kick off at around £12,500 - about £3,500 less than the cheapest superminis, such as the Ford Fiesta.