Hyundai tak­ing the lead

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Summer Fun -

THIS IS the long­est and widest city car out there, and Hyundai wants to shout about it. “B-seg­ment qual­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity in an A-seg­ment pack­age” is the ral­ly­ing cry from the peo­ple be­hind the all-new i10, and a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in size helps it on its way.

One suited com­pany rep even de­scribed the car as more of an “A plus-seg­ment” ma­chine, but enough talk of seg­ments, we’re not deal­ing with a choco­late orange. The bot­tom line is that the i10 is quite a bit big­ger than its main ri­vals.

You get the big­gest boot in the class with a broad floor area that ac­com­mo­dates a medium-size travel case flat, where ri­val cars’ boots might force you to stand it up or lie it on its side.

The spa­cious cabin is dom­i­nated by a huge, full­width coloured panel on the dash­board in a choice of orange or blue, with beige re­stricted to the en­try-level S model and red kept only for the Pre­mium grade. It cer­tainly gives the car a mea­sure of char­ac­ter but it’s a di­vi­sive fea­ture, so it’s well worth get­ting up close to it to form your own opinion of how it looks.

Qual­ity is as high as you could hope for in a car of this class. The plas­tics are hard and in some cases very hol­low-sound­ing, but there’s no ex­posed metal any­where. Then fac­tor in the classy cen­tre con­sole lay­out and Hyundai has a good case to ar­gue that the i10 has a higher per­ceived qual­ity than any of its com­peti­tors.

Prac­ti­cal­ity is boosted by the new model’s in­flated size. There are more cup or bot­tle hold­ers than you can shake a stick at, with one in each of the four doors and de­pend­ing on bot­tle sizes up to four more be­tween the front seats. The front door slots can take big litre-sized bot­tles, too. The glove box is broad and evenly shaped, so there are no prob­lems stuff­ing it full of ev­ery­day es­sen­tials or a hand­bag.

There are two en­gines avail­able in the UK. A fa­mil­iar 1.2-litre four-cylin­der en­gine is the range-top­per and the more ex­pen­sive op­tion, but a new three-cylin­der 1.0-litre unit steals the lime­light. It’s gutsy at typ­i­cal en­gine revs; ar­guably more so than the 1.2, and with its char­ac­ter­ful back­ground buzz and tractable, flex­i­ble man­ner it’s the one to go for. Its only flaw is that while vi­bra­tions are iso­lated re­mark­ably well at the steer­ing wheel and seat, the rear view mir­ror suf­fers from the shakes.

How­ever, there’s only one ver­sion that drops into free road tax ter­ri­tory, and to get that you have to drop from five seats to four (weight-sav­ing) and ac­cept the mid-range SE trim only. The rest of the mod­els fall be­hind some ri­vals for emis­sions.

But it has to be noted here just how quiet the i10 is. Keep the revs low, and even at 50mph the cabin is sur­pris­ingly hushed. This is the small­est car Hyundai makes, re­mem­ber, and even if it is big­ger than the ri­vals it def­i­nitely sets new stan­dards for in­te­rior noise lev­els.

Any flaws to blot the copy book? That de­pends en­tirely on how you use it. If the size and park­a­bil­ity of a car aren’t as im­por­tant as style, driver­friend­li­ness and re­fine­ment, the i10 plays a blinder. Only if you need your city car to excel at park­ing in tight on-street spa­ces are there sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter op­tions out there.

The new i10 is thor­oughly im­pres­sive. It no longer has the en­er­getic puppy-dog feel of the old ver­sion, hav­ing ditched it for a more grown-up and com­posed stance, but there’s no doubt this is a sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter car. The huge growth spurt is both a bless­ing and a curse, but there’s no doubt that the i10 is a fan­tas­tic all­rounder.

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