Why does the new Hyundai i10 get five stars?

A reader asks why the star ratings for each section of the What Car? review of the 2020 Hyundai i10 don't add up to its five-star rating...

Hyundai i10 2020 RHD front tracking

In your recent review of the new Hyundai i10 city car, you judged it on 16 criteria. You gave it 10 four-star ratings, five five-star ratings and one instance of three stars. 

The average of all of these scores is 4.25. Therefore, I believe it follows that this car should have been awarded an overall rating of four stars, not five. 

I feel that this makes your review misleading. Do you agree?

Clive Borg

What Car? says…

Our reviews editor, Will Nightingale, responded to this question, saying: “Our overall star ratings aren’t based on the mean average of the 16 individual areas we appraise. That approach would leave us with no five-star cars at all and very probably no two-star cars either.

“The necessary compromises when designing and building a car mean that improving one aspect, such as performance, usually has a negative impact elsewhere – in the i10’s case, fuel economy and CO2 emissions. That’s why cars rarely score five stars in more than five or six areas.

“We have a rule that a car needs to score five stars in at least three key areas to be considered for a five-star rating overall. In many cases, the cars with the highest number of total stars in any given class will be awarded five stars, and those with the fewest one or two stars. 

“However, we do weight qualities differently depending on the type of car we’re assessing. So, for example, a sports car that scored highly for performance and handling is likely to be rated above one that scored well for rear space or boot space – even if the latter racked up a greater number of stars overall.”

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Best small cars

The small car market is one of the most fiercely contested, which is great news if you're after this sort of vehicle, because it means there are stacks of models to choose from and standards are incredibly high.

To have a chance of topping the class, a car must be as comfortable on the motorway as it is in the city. It must offer a decent amount of equipment, enough boot space for weekly shopping trips and an interior that's practical enough to cope with the demands of families. And it must, of course, be competitively priced.

In order to help you find the right small car, we've picked out our top 10 – and named the one you should avoid. And remember, if any of them take your fancy, you can potentially save thousands without any haggling by using our New Car Buying service.

10. Honda Jazz

Save money on a new Honda Jazz with What Car? >>

Honda Jazz

The Jazz has long bridged the gap between small cars and five-seat MPVs, and the latest version continues that tradition. It offers class-leading space and practicality, and it might even outlast you with its outstanding reliability. It's just a shame its ride isn't more  settled.

Mini 5dr front

This version of the Mini hatchback will suit you better than the 3dr if you regularly need to fill all of the seats, plus it offers a bigger boot. Again, go for the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol Cooper version and team it with Classic trim and you'll have most bases covered.

Read our full Mini 5dr review >>

8. Hyundai i20

Save money on a new Hyundai i20 with What Car? >>

New Hyundai i20 vs Seat Ibiza

The i20's interior space dwarfs that of almost any other car in this class, and because of that, we're inclined to forgive some of its cheap-feeling plastics. The fact it's very well priced also helps, while the the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine we recommend is perky and refined.

Read our full Hyundai i20 review >>

7. Kia Rio

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Kia Rio

Like the i20, Kia's Rio has always offered a big helping of practicality for a low price, but the latest version adds a spark of desirability and a sprightly turbocharged engine. We'd avoid the cheapest 1 trim level and go for at least 2, because this comes with a touchscreen infotainment system and USB ports in the front and rear. All versions come with automatic emergency braking as standard.

Read our full Kia Rio review >>

6. Audi A1 Sportback

Save money on a new Audi A1 with What Car? >>

New Audi A1 vs new Mini 5dr

Now in its second generation, the A1 offers an enjoyable driving experience and has room for two adults to sit comfortably in the back. There’s even a spacious boot, remedying one of the criticisms of the original A1. However, while there are still some nice touches, the interior doesn’t feel significantly classier than the cheaper Volkswagen Polo's, which is why Audi's smallest car goes no higher in this list.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Zetec 5dr

The Ford Fiesta is the best-selling car in the UK, and it's easy to see why. It's great fun to drive and available with tempting discounts, while its Ecoboost petrol engines are punchy, quiet and frugal. Practicality is decent, but not class leading.

Read our full Ford Fiesta review >>

4. Peugeot 208

Save money on a new Peugeot 208 with What Car? >>

Peugeot 208 driving

If you are searching for a sharp-handling small car, there are better and cheaper alternatives – including the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza. But if a rich interior, a comfortable ride, quiet cruising and decent interior space drive your purchasing decision, the 208 could well be the car for you.

Read our full Peugeot 208 review >>

3. Skoda Fabia

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Skoda Fabia side

This former What Car? Car of the Year remains one of our favourite small cars. It's practical, well priced, quiet and composed. Plus, the Fabia should be affordable to run, with our favourite version averaging more than 60mpg in official tests.

Read our full Skoda Fabia review >>

2. Seat Ibiza

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Seat Ibiza

The Ibiza is great to drive and even the 94bhp version of the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine pulls eagerly from low revs. It's also seriously spacious inside and should hold its value better than cheaper rivals, such as the Skoda Fabia above.

Volkswagen Polo front - 19 plate

The latest Volkswagen Polo is available with a broad range of engines and trim levels, ensuring that there's something for everyone in the range. It also has a classy interior that's well equipped in our preferred SE trim. Previously, the Polo has lost out to the Seat Ibiza because it couldn’t justify its additional expense. But because of the impressive deals that can today be found on a new Polo, it now fully deserves the number one spot.

Read our full Volkswagen Polo review >>

And the small car to avoid...

MG 3

MG 3 front

It's not that the MG 3 has nothing going for it; it handles pretty well and is keenly priced. However, its sluggish engine and low Euro NCAP safety rating ultimately leave it well off the pace.

Read our full MG 3 review >>

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Read more: the best and worst small SUVs >