27 March 2014

Road Test: Hyundai i10

Let's start this one with a hallelujah, writes Brian Byrne. The new Hyundai i10 has a lot of neat and sweet features, but among them is a spare wheel. A 'skinny' spare, sure. But a real wheel, in a space that's made for that spare.

Be on notice that this opens my personal crusade for 2014. That inflator/sealant kits are not good enough. Even in the smallest of cars. They're for the convenience of the manufacturer, not the customer. Like the loss of real people in your local bank. Like the closed rural Garda station. Like the eminently frustrating phone systems that require one to 'Press 1/2/3/4' through many layers of automated voice to get to a real person who might be able to tell you to whom you should be talking.

So, this year, any car I review that doesn't have a spare, will get a thumbs down on that particular aspect.

Now, back to the diminutive i10. Brand new in every respect. A perky shape that raises smiles both from occupants and those outside. Two levels of specification on a standard base that sets a high bar for the competition. More room inside than its predecessor and a quantum improvement in every respect over its ancestor Atos.

If it looks like it fits in on our roads, that's no surprise, as the new i10 was developed under the direction of Hyundai's design centre in Europe. That's also the reason for the high quality interior, as we in Europe do demand much better trim and fittings than in other parts of the world. And it's built in Turkey, geographically Europe and with a strong tradition in good car-building.

If the buzz of the little 1.0 engine sounds familiar, that's because the car uses the same powertrain as the current Kia Picanto, a close cousin to the i10 and a car for which this writer has a personal soft spot. The Hyundai is wider, longer and a tad taller than the Kia, though they share the same wheelbase.

It's a cheerful car to get into, with plenty of colour — the review version was themed in the brand's corporate blue — and a snappy line in very clear analogue instrumentation. Seats are good, look and feel comfortable. For those up front, there's plenty of space in all dimensions. Rear passengers will be a little constrained, and comfort for them will depend on how big are the occupants up front. The boot space benefits from the extra length over its Kia cousin, even with that spare under the floor.

With 66hp under that front lid, nobody's expecting dramatic performance. But the individual tone of the 3-pot offers an enthusiastic sense as you wind it up to its optimum, and the 5-speed shifter is a sweet and accurate affair. There's a 4-speed automatic available.

Emissions from the manual are 108g/km, so the road tax is a handy €190, and the official 4.7L/100km fuel consumption is equivalent to over 60mpg.

Its segment is city car, but I happily drove it around my own countryside area in all sorts of weather and road conditions and the new i10 never faltered or complained (it is easy to nip around some of the more notorious potholes which we drivers ARE complaining about locally).

There are cars that are good looking, cars that are practical, and cars that are cheering. The new i10 is all three in the package. I suspect it will extend its small segment in Ireland, will do very well in its much larger space across Europe, and add another winner to the modern Hyundai stable.

From €11,995 for the Classic, the review Deluxe is €13,495 and the Deluxe Automatic €15,495. There's a 5-year unlimited distance warranty and matching roadside assistance.

Just for the heck of it, lets have it again. Hallelujah!