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Hyundai i10 long-term review

The Hyundai i10 is coming to the end of its time on the What Car? fleet - find out how it's got on over the last 12 months

Words ByMatthew Burrow

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The Hyundai i10 was named What Car? City Car of the Year in January 2014 and it held on to the Award for another year at the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2015.

In March 2014, it joined the What Car? long-term test fleet for a year so we can put it through its paces.

The car Hyundai i10 1.2 SE
Run by Matthew Burrow, Content editor
Needs to Make light work of the daily commute; nip into parking spaces on crowded streets; handle longer trips on the motorway
Run by What Car? since March 2014

My rating

What's it like?

The previous-generation i10 was the car that put Hyundai on the map in the UK. This success was down to its low price and the arrival of the 2009 scrappage scheme. Since then, the quality of rivals in the city car class has increased substantially. The new i10 really had its work cut out.

Hyundai has worked hard and has succeeded in making the new car feel more grown up that the car it replaces. The five-door, five-seat layout remains differentiating it from the majority of the class which even five-doors frequently have just four seats.

Two petrol engines are available - a three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit and a more powerful 1.2-litre motor. Both have more than enough power to cope with town driving but if you spend any time on motorways you'll welcome the added oomph of the 1.2.

We went for the 1.2 SE. We then added a couple of options: metallic paint and the connectivity package - to get Bluetooth connectivity. Since we got our car, Hyundai has changed the trim levels, but we'll explain that in more detail later on. Suffice to say that if we were going to choose an i10 today we would go for the 1.2 Premium.

Daily driving

On a day-to-day basis the Hyundai i10 is all the car I could need. It's comfortable, nippy and perfect for pottering around town. My daily commute is from central London out to the suburbs and the i10 is made for this. It keeps up with traffic, returns a decent MPG and is a pleasant place to be.

It's also pretty comfortable. Speed bumps are dealt with without much of a fuss and it irons out most of the bumps on rutted roads. It's impressive.

Hyundai has also managed to make the i10 very quiet. People have commented that they thought it had stop/start technology because at idle you can hardly hear the engine at all.

It's not as fun to drive as the Volkswagen Up but it's also not bad. The steering is very light which makes quick parking maneouvres very easy. In fact, I can turn the steering wheel with one finger. The gearchange is mostly smooth though we have had some trouble with getting into reverse, more on that later.

Out of town the i10 is out of its comfort zone but manages pretty well nonetheless. I drive down to Dorset regularly to see my family and the Hyundai is perfectly comfortable on the motorway. It's a bit noisy and doesn't like to pushed too hard but that's not what the i10 is about. It gets me back and forth without any dramas and without drinking too much petrol.

The best thing about the i10 is being able to park in spaces that others have to drive past. It saves me so much time every day. My street gets very busy and parking is at a premium when I'm in a bigger car I frequently have to drive round and round looking for a space. Not so with the i10. When I've found a space it's also easy to get into. All-round visibility is good and the super-light steering means that parking is a doddle.

Inside, it took some time to find a comfortable driving position but I've now found a set-up that works. There's plenty of adjustment to the seat and the steering wheel adjusts for height so it bodes well. However, there are a couple of niggles: I'd like the steering wheel to adjust for reach as well and I wish that the seat adjustment controls were easier to use. I have no complaints about the bar to move the seat forward and backward or the handle to change the height of the driver's seat, however I found it tricky to find a comfortable position for the seat back using the handle. The increments are set too far apart for my liking and I would much prefer it if it were controlled by a dial that I could turn in smaller amounts. I've found a comfortable driving position but it took some time and can be a pain when someone borrows the i10 (which they do if they want something to nip into town in) and changes the seat setting.

The dashboard controls are clear and easy to use. The dash doesn't feel as premium as the Volkswagen Up's but the quality of the materials is still good. The blue really lifts what could be a very dull look and the all the buttons are big and clearly labelled. I particularly like the big buttons on the steering wheel to control the trip computer. It's so much easier than the ones that are on the end of the indicator stalk or hidden behind the steering wheel like they were on my Dacia Sandero. A useful button dims the screen of the radio when it's dark to stop the glare. It's a shame that it doesn't also dim the other lights.

What's missing from the i10?

One of the biggest differences between the i10 and the rest of new wave of city cars is that it does without a sat-nav system, you can't even get one as an option. I now use the Tomtom app on my iPhone for directions (which is great) and connect it to the dashboard using a Kenu Airframe which fits neatly to the air-vents. It's something that Hyundai should really sort out, though, because many of its rivals come with some form of updated infotainment system.

Hyundai also needs to consider adding Bluetooth to all i10s. Our car got it as part of the connectivity package which is no longer available. To get Bluetooth you now have to go for top-of-the-range premium trim.

Practicality

I mentioned earlier that the i10 is one of only a few city cars to have five seats. Four adults fit fine and a fifth can squeeze in on short journeys. The rear seats also fold very easily. They don't fold flat but they do free up plenty of storage space, 1046 litres to be precise which is 100 litres more than an Up when the seats are down. Plus, Hyundai has included a nice touch of having somewhere to clip the seatbelts in when the seats are folded so they don't rattle around. Even with the rear seats in place, the i10 has the biggest boot in the class at 252 litres and can easily handle cabin bags.

No one would choose the i10 if they need something mega practical but it is great to have the option. I moved house earlier in the year and thought that the i10 would be close to useless in that situation but actually with the seats down and the parcel shelf stored behind the driver's seat I was able to get a surprising amount of stuff in. It was never going to do all the heavy lifting but it's good to have the option of picking up unplanned-for bits and pieces.

Now on to specification. Well, if you wanted to buy our car today, you wouldn't be able to. Our car is the 1.2 SE with the optional metallic paint (Stardust Grey) and connectivity package.

Hyundai i10 specification

The metallic paint option is still available but the connectivity package which added Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted audio controls is no more. It's a pity because otherwise it's got everything you could want, including air-conditioning. True, it does without alloy wheels but in a city car which is constantly being parked in tight spots, that's probably no bad thing.

When I spoke to Hyundai about this, they told me that it was because most people were specifying Premium trim anyway and so they got rid of the connectivity package because no one was choosing it. In a weird turn of events, SE trim now comes with cruise control as standard. It doesn't make much sense to me.

If we were buying an i10 today, we'd recommend buyers choose the 1.2 Premium. Yes, it's more expensive than our car with an on-the-road price of Β£10,810 before adding metallic paint (a Β£495 option) but it is still well equipped. It gets air-conditioning, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights and alloy wheels. Still no chance of getting any form of sat-nav – a real missed trick considering the VW Group offers such a great sat-nav at a reasonable price. Perhaps the system that is being added to the new i20 could make its way down to the i10 when the face-lift comes around.

Hyundai i10 mpg

Our Hyundai i10's mpg hasn't quite matched up to the official figures. The 1.2 has a combined figure of 57.6 mpg, while the official figure for urban driving is 43.5 mpg.

Straightaway I can say that over the course of the year we won't be getting anywhere near the combined number – the i10 spends far too much time in town for that – but how close can it get to the urban figure of 43.5 mpg?

Well, at the moment it's pretty close at 42.3 mpg. That's not bad at all considering recently I've started to ignore the nagging gearchange indicator. I find that it wants me to change up the gears far too quickly. I'm sure it's great for economy but it makes keeping up with the traffic on my suburban commute too much of a struggle.

Hyundai i10 automatic

If you're after a small automatic car, look no further than the Hyundai i10 1.2 SE with the optional auto' box. The running costs are higher than for our car but other than that there are few negatives.

The big plus is that Hyundai has fitted a proper automatic gearbox instead of the automated manual that rival manufacturers put in their city cars. This means that progress is smooth and relaxed. It's a joy to drive in town and perfectly at home on faster roads as well.

If you're in the market for a small automatic car, the i10 should definitely be on your shopping list.

Price

Not only is the i10 1.2 a favourite with What Car?, it's also proven itself to be popular with the buying public. So popular in fact, that it's caught Hyundai off guard.

Readers have been in touch saying that they are having to wait much longer than anticipated for their i10 1.2s to show up on their driveway.

I got in touch with Hyundai to find out what was going on.

When the i10 went on sale, it was assumed that the 1.0-litre engine would be much more popular in the UK than the 1.2. The gap has actually been much smaller which has caused some delays.

The good news is that this problem has been rectified and Hyundai UK has upped its allocation from the factory so that waiting list is now getting shorter.

The 1.2 SE had an on-the-road price of Β£9795 when we started running it. Hyundai has now increased the OTR price by Β£315 to Β£10,110. That doesn't look great on paper but the good news is that our Target Price team has found dealers selling the same model for Β£9553. Get in touch with them on 0845 527 6394 to make sure you're not overpaying.

Hyundai i10 problems

Hyundai's standard five-year warranty should give owners peace of mind. We haven't had to take use it yet, but that's not to say there haven't been any niggles.

The tyre pressure-monitoring system warning light illuminated a couple of months ago. The recommended pressure is 2.2 bar and when I checked them they were all at about 2.0. Once back up to 2.2, I then set about trying to turn off the warning light. I searched around for a button but couldn't find one. Even the manual couldn't tell me what I needed to do. Instead I was forced to consult one of my colleagues. He told me that the light would probably go off once I'd driven for a few miles, which is exactly what happened. A short paragraph in the manual explaining this could put other owners' minds at ease.

A crunching gearbox was one of the main complaints with the old generation i10 so when colleagues started mentioning that they were having trouble with our car I was a bit worried. I'd had trouble selecting reverse but otherwise it was fine. Colleagues mentioned that they found the change from first to second to be difficult and then readers got in touch to say that they were experiencing similar issues. Our car has sorted itself out but readers' cars have been back to dealers to have their oil changed which seems to have solved the problem. I'll keep my ears open.

The final problem came a few weeks ago when the trip computer flashed and reset itself. Everything apart from the odometer went back to zero. It has only happened once but I'll keep an eye on it.

Otherwise our little Hyundai i10 hasn't missed a beat.

Would we recommend the Hyundai i10?

Absolutely. The i10 is still the best city car on the market today. It might not be the most exciting small car but it is very capable.

If you're looking for a city car that can transport five, is cheap to run, reliable and very refined, the i10 will suit you down to the ground - although if you need sat-nav, you'll need to stick an aftermarket one to the windscreen. Not a dealbreaker but not ideal.

Add to that the sub-Β£10k Target Price and a five-year warranty, and the Hyundai i10 really impresses.

Hyundai i10 1.2 SE statistics
Price Β£10,110
Target Price Click here for the current Target Price

Mileage to date 4800
Fuel economy 41.1mpg
True MPG 42.6mpg
Emissions/Company car tax 114g/km/15%
Cost per mile 29p
Insurance group 4
Typical quote Β£301