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Hyundai i10 What is it? Face-lift and new engine Estimated price from £8500 On sale March 2011
The i10 was Hyundai’ best-selling car in 2010, and it isn’t hard to see why. You can pick up the current car (shown above) for less than £8000, without missing out on essentials such as air-conditioning and electric front windows. From next March there will be even more reasons to buy one. The front end has been freshened up with larger headlights and Hyundai’ new signature hexagonal grille. At the back, the bumper and tail-lights have also been redesigned, and inside there’s a new silver surround to the centre console.
The entry-level 1.1-litre petrol has been replaced with an all-new 68bhp 1.0-litre engine. It isn’t a lot more powerful, but CO2 emissions have been slashed to just 99g/km, meaning the new i10 will be the cheapest sub-100g/km car in Britain. Prices are expected to rise by about £500, but £200 of that will be due to the 2011 VAT rise. Mazda 2 What is it? Mazda’s supermini gets a face-lift Price from £9995 On sale January 2011
The face-lifted Mazda 2 will be on sale by the time you read this, although deliveries won’t be made until 2011. The most obvious changes are to the front, which now sports the latest Mazda family face. The interior has been upgraded, too, while the chassis has been tweaked to improve the ride, which was one of our main gripes with the old car. All the engines now comply with strict new Euro V emissions standards, and CO2 emissions of the 1.3 petrol are just 119g/km. An automatic gearbox will also be available on the 1.5 petrol. Kia Rio What is it? Stylish new Hyundai i20-based supermini Estimated price from £9500 On sale Autumn 2011
Kia expects the all-new Rio to provide a big boost to its UK sales. The new model (shown here testing in disguise) will be based on the i20 built by sister company Hyundai, but with Kia’ newfound skills for making striking cars, the Rio should trump the Hyundai for style.
With the new Rio pencilled in for an autumn 2011 launch, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March. The five-door model will arrive first, with a sporty three-door following later. Prices will be close to those of the i20, so are likely to start at £9500. Vauxhall Corsa What is it? Face-lift will complete a raft of updates for Vauxhall’s best-seller Price from £9995 On sale January 2011
Vauxhall has been gradually improving the Corsa over the past 12 months, and these styling tweaks complete the changes.
First, Vauxhall overhauled the suspension and steering to soften the ride and sharpen the handling, then it tweaked the engines to improve fuel economy and lower emissions.
It has added a stop-start system, too. It works well, and whips the engine back into life quickly, so you aren’t left in the lurch when you need to make a quick getaway. There isn’t a shudder when the engine switches itself off, either.
The system is standard on 94bhp 1.3 CDTi Ecoflex models, and with CO2 emissions of just 94g/km and average economy of more than 78mpg, it’ll cost you nothing in road tax and (in theory) get you from London to Italy on a single tank of diesel.
Stop-start is also a £260 option on the 74bhp 1.3 CDTi, where you’d think it would stretch a gallon of diesel farther. Oddly not; the engine has to work harder, so it actually uses more fuel. It still tops 70mpg, though.
The Corsa also now comes with a revised front grille, ‘Eagle-eye’ headlights, daytime running lights and five new colours. A new touch-screen multimedia system is available, too. Hyundai ix20 What is it? Hyundai’ Kia Venga-based replacement for the Matrix Price from £11,595 On sale January 2011
Hyundai has just replaced the one remaining dinosaur in its line-up. The ix20 has taken over from the nine-year-old Matrix as the company’s new mini-MPV.
Underneath, the ix20 is essentially a Kia Venga, so it’s marginally longer and wider than the old Matrix. It’s more practical, too. The rear seats slide back or forth and there’s a hidden storage area under the boot floor. The ix20 is also better equipped than most rivals.
It’s offered with two petrol engines – an 89bhp 1.4 and a 123bhp 1.6 – plus an 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel. While the 1.4 petrol provides acceptable performance for a reasonable price, the diesel is best avoided: it’s noisy, unrefined, and needs to be worked hard to keep pace with traffic. The 1.6 petrol is available as an automatic only.
The ix20’s starting price is only a couple of hundred pounds more than the Venga’s.
In brief… Smart Forfour Smart has decided to have another crack at a five-door, four-seat supermini. The original Forfour was canned in 2007 due to slow sales, but a new model will arrive in the USA within two years. If all goes well there, Smart may bring it to the UK.