City cars such as the Hyundai i10 are already designed to be as light and easy as possible to drive. However, there’s one way to make them even easier to live with, by adding an automatic gearbox.
This does away with the bother of clutches and gearchanges, and allows owners to focus on getting into that narrow gap in traffic or into that tiny parking space.
So does the automatic shifter in the i10 make for a utopian urban driving experience, or does its more relaxed nature simply hinder your progress through the hustle and bustle of a modern city?
What’s the 2014 Hyundai i10 1.2 auto like to drive?
The 86bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine is fairly perky, and it never feel fazed by what you’re asking it to do. It revs reasonably quickly and smoothly, and performance is perfectly acceptable, no matter whether you’re nipping between shops in the city or easing into the overtaking lane on a dual carriageway.
Rarely does the automatic gearbox find itself in the wrong ratio, despite there being only four to choose from. The changes are pretty smooth too, although the ’box doesn’t exactly rush through the gears, whether speeding up or slowing down.
That’s the ‘go’ taken care of, and the ‘stop’ is just as easy too, because the brakes are light, perfectly powerful enough and easy to modulate for smooth halts at the lights.
As for the rest of the driving experience, well it’s exactly as per the manual car’s, so the suspension is firm enough to keep the body in check around corners but supple enough to ward off the worst of the inner-city road scars. The steering is light and accurate, although not quite as accurate or confidence-inspiring as that in rivals such as the Skoda Citigo or Volkswagen Up.
What’s the 2014 Hyundai i10 1.2 auto like inside?
Pretty much ideal. There’s genuinely good space in the front of the i10, and it’s simple to find a good driving position because there’s plenty of seat adjustment (including height) and the steering wheel adjusts up and down. It’s a pity you can’t tailor the reach of the steering column to your needs, though.
Even six-footers will be reasonably at ease in the rear seats, and the i10 absolutely trounces rivals such as the Skoda Citigo when it comes to luggage space. It's boot is big enough to shame some superminis'.
There was a time when city cars were the motoring equivalent of a Spartan camp, because standard equipment included seats, seatbelts, a steering wheel and a windscreen, but little else. Not any more.
The i10 comes with air-con, remote central locking, electric rear windows and electrically adjustable heated door mirrors. On top of that, it has six airbags, a tyre pressure-monitoring system and stability control as standard.
Should I buy one?
Given the amount of equipment the i10 comes with it is extremely well priced, certainly when compared with its direct automatic rivals. City cars with decent auto gearboxes are pretty rare.
However, you’d do well to work out very carefully whether you really do need an automatic gearbox because it adds significantly to its running costs compared with the manual car's.
For example, fuel economy drops from 57.6mpg to 45.6, while carbon dioxide emissions leap from 114g/km to 142g/km. Should your i10 auto be a company car it’ll be a full six tax bands higher as a result.
If you’re a private owner, this also has serious implications for the amount you’ll pay in annual VED.
However, if an automatic city car is what you need or want, there’s none finer than the i10.
What Car? says
Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
Price from £10,650
Torque 88lb ft
0-62mph 13.8 seconds
Top speed 101mph
Fuel economy 45.6mpg