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.
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?