Ad­vice on buy­ing the best of the South Korean city car.

The Hyundai i10 was the first of the South Korean firm’s cars to hit the top 10 charts in the UK. A decade after its launch, Craig Cheetham eval­u­ates its used ap­peal.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

When the UK govern­ment in­tro­duced a scheme to kick-start car sales fol­low­ing the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, there was one model that left its ri­vals pick­ing up the scraps. The Hyundai i10, ag­gres­sively mar­keted with keen head­line pric­ing and a five-year war­ranty, was very much the dar­ling of the 2009 Scrap­page In­cen­tive Scheme, in­tro­duced in April 2009 to re­ju­ve­nate car sales dur­ing the eco­nomic slow­down.

Built at Hyundai’s Chennai plant in In­dia, the i10 made its de­but at the 2007 New Delhi In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show to mark the fact that, un­like the Atoz be­fore it, it was go­ing to be built ex­clu­sively in In­dia, mark­ing a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment by the South Korean man­u­fac­turer into the re­gion. In In­dia, the car was cel­e­brated. Bet­ter qual­ity than the lo­cally de­signed Tata Indica but still In­dian-built, it rapidly be­came one of the best-sell­ing cars on the mar­ket and devel­oped a cult fol­low­ing.

The i10 went on sale in the UK in 2008 to fairly luke­warm re­views. It came with two en­gines, a 1.1- and a 1.2-litre petrol – the lat­ter far more lively than the ex­tra 100cc would sug­gest – and three trim lev­els: Clas­sic, Com­fort and Style. In the me­dia’s view, the i10 was a de­cent enough bud­get city car, but wasn’t go­ing to set the mar­ket on fire. Or so they thought.

Along came the govern­ment with £300 mil­lion to chuck in the pot. If a dealer would knock £1000 off a car, the Trea­sury would match it, giv­ing cus­tomers £2000 off any car if they chopped in one that was 10 years old or more. The spon­sored hag­gling took mid­dle-class sub­ur­bia by storm and prac­ti­cally wiped out the UK’S sup­ply of tidy one-owner Toy­ota Corol­las and Nis­san Sun­nys overnight, their tra­di­tion­ally con­ser­va­tive buy­ers be­ing baited into Hyundai deal­er­ships by the prom­ise of not hav­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a deal and still ben­e­fit from a five-year war­ranty. The fac­tory in In­dia sim­ply couldn’t keep up with de­mand, to the ex­tent that it tem­po­rar­ily halted left­hand drive pro­duc­tion to al­lo­cate the en­tire Euro­pean quota to the UK.

Life after scrap­page

After the scrap­page scheme came to an end, you might have ex­pected the i10’s pop­u­lar­ity would start to wane with­out a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to buy into the brand. Hyundai man­aged to keep sales of the i10 way above the lev­els it was sell­ing at be­fore the in­cen­tivised pur­chases be­gan, prov­ing that the model’s vis­i­bil­ity via the scheme had clearly raised aware­ness of the brand among new car buy­ers.

The com­pany turned to spe­cial edi­tions to keep re­tail cus­tomers keen. The i10 Blue, ES, Ac­tive and Edi­tion all ap­peared for the 2011 model year, along with a mi­nor facelift and a new 1.0 three-cylin­der en­gine with 68bhp and four valves per cylin­der, which was a lot more lively than the four­pot 1.1. These tweaks were enough to keep the i10 at the top of the UK city car mar­ket for the rest of its life, un­til it was re­placed by a wider, longer and lower i10 in 2013. In In­dia, such was its pop­u­lar­ity, it re­mained in pro­duc­tion un­til last year.

The i10 was, of course, a car bought on price and, at £4795 after the £2000 scrap­page al­lowance, it was a cheap way into new car own­er­ship. Cheap enough, in fact, to give Hyundai its first ever top 10 ap­pear­ance in the UK’S sales charts in June 2009, where it would re­main for al­most a year. There’s a cer­tain irony, then, in the fact that the i10 cel­e­brates its own 10th an­niver­sary this year, the very age at which many cars were scrapped so some­body could buy one in the first place.

So how has it held up and does it make sense as a used buy?

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