City cars are one of the burgeoning sectors of the industry. As pennies become even more valuable, as we continue to fight our way out of recession, keeping our transport costs down has never been more important. Good timing then for Hyundai to launch its new i10.
Targeted directly at European buyers, the new model from the Korean manufacturer replaces the current version which has been Hyundai’s biggest-seller in the UK.
Last year it accounted for nearly one-third of the firm’s 74,000 sales, and with industry analysts predicting the city car category could grow by 25% to 1.6 million units by 2016, Hyundai is confident it can capture more sales.
Despite going head-to-head with the likes of the VW up!, Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and Fiat Panda, the i10 is predicted to grab 6.4% of the European city car market next year when it goes on sale.
In the UK it will be available only as a five-door, with prices starting at £8345. The cheapest rival in the VW up! stable will set you back an additional 215 quid.
Designed and engineered at Hyundai’s technical centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany, the new i10 sits on an all-new platform. And not only is it well engineered, but it’s also a good-looking car.
Long gone is the feeling, when you sit yourself behind the steering wheel of a city car, that it’s the runt of the litter: the afterthought in the manufacturer’s extensive model range.
The current crop of city cars are the result of long, extensive research, and an understanding and acceptance that just because a buyer is purchasing a small car, they still have high expectations and requirements.
Hyundai has hit that aspect fair and square on the head. Not only have the ride and handling been improved, but the design is more appealing and there’s more interior space.
The new i10 is 80mm longer, 65mm wider and 50mm lower than the car it replaces: that makes it 3665mm long, 1660mm wide and 1500mm high. Interestingly, while the outgoing i10 is the narrowest car in its class, the new 2014 version is the widest.
And Hyundai has put that to good use. The i10 has the biggest luggage capacity in the sector. Ok, its 252 litres with the rear seats in place is only one solitary litre larger than the VW up!, but a litre’s a litre.
The Korean car gets even more impressive when you fold down the 60/40 split rear bench: suddenly the gap opens significantly, 1046 litres of load space for the Hyundai compared to the VW’s 951 litres.
Talking of the rear seats, passengers will find their leg and headroom as good as that offered by any city car rivals, plus the driving position is anything but cramped.
For a city car, it feels grown-up, which is exactly how you would want the modern day city car to feel. Clever sound-deadening ensures the airy and comfortable cabin is a quiet place to be, unlike some rivals whose thrumming three-cylinder engines drone incessantly into the cockpit.
Clever designing — which incorporates detailed aerodynamic refinement, such as careful sculpting of the wing mirror mounts, plus a low drag coefficient — also ensures there’s little wind noise.
Figures, of course, are important with every car: but they’re not always the most significant way to interpret the car’s efficiency.
On paper, the i10 is slow: it takes just under 15secs to cover the 0-62mph ‘sprint’. But how important is that figure for a car which will, essentially, spend the vast bulk of its time pootling round the city centre?
The reality is the car’s 998cc, 65bhp engine delivers the power it has very smoothly and effectively. In town it’s sprightly and nimble, and capable of mixing it with the best. Just to round off the figures, it’ll return 60mpg at the pumps and emits 108g/km CO2.
Hyundai will make the 2014 i10 available with a choice of two petrol engines: a 1.0-litre and a 1.2. It’s expected the smaller unit will account for around 60% of sales in the UK, though the majority of them will be well-specced.
The car is available in three trim levels: S, SE and Premium. We’ve got the 1.0 Premium, which will set you back £9995.
But it is, definitely, well-specced. LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, rear audio speakers, door mirror indicators, a multi-function steering wheel and 14in alloys are all standard. And that’s over-and-above the i10′s already impressive standard spec.
Worth highlighting though that satnav isn’t included as standard equipment on any of the trim levels. And why should it be? I’m sure most of you know your way round your nearest town, village or city, and if you’re travelling further afield, you probably have a TomTom or Garmin you can use.
The 2014 Hyundai is certainly more than capable of taking the challenge to the more established city cars. Its combination of generous standard equipment, interior space, external styling and general all-over cleverness mean it’s a city car you should definitely have on your shortlist.