Hyundai i10, motoring review: Why do these cars keep getting bigger and bigger?

 

Price: from £8,345-£10,495
Engine:
(1.0) 998cc, three cylinders, 12 valves
Transmission: five-speed gearbox (four-speed auto optional), front-wheel drive
Performance: 96mph, 0-60 in 14.9sec

When is a supermini not a supermini? A quick answer could be "When it's a Renault Clio". The current version of Renault's staple supermini is enormous; it's long, wide, and it looks as bulky as a Golf, say.

This upward size-creep in cars has been going on for a while, causing a new layer of compact cars to sneak in beneath the superminis. They – Fiat 500, Volkswagen Up, Citroën C1 and the like – are still bigger than an original Mini was, and are the true superminis. But now the size-creep has hit here, too.

Take the new Hyundai i10. The previous one, built in India and launched in 2008, was an unexpected success. It was a keen, happy, friendly car to drive, it exuded frills-free honesty and it was brilliant value.

It was also a properly compact four-seater hatchback, a sub-supermini. Now there's a new one, built in Turkey and designed (in Germany, mainly) in response to what Hyundai perceives as buyers' desires. It's bigger, has more gadgetry, is more expensive (but still good value) and overall seems more grown-up. Which is fine, but if you wanted a compact Hyundai hatchback bigger than an i10 you would hitherto have simply considered the excellent Hyundai i20. But now that, too, is to be replaced, and will again be a bit bigger. Why? As carmakers become cleverer, shouldn't their cars take up less road space, not more?

Hyundai talks of the i10's quality, sophistication and "premium feel", but this seems to miss the point of what a sub-supermini should be. The interior still consists mainly of un-premium hard plastics apart from the seats, but the shapes are quite imaginative in their curves and, as in a Fiat 500, the dashboard colour can complement that of the exterior paintwork. The expected USB audio connectivity is standard; Bluetooth, however, is standard only on higher-specification versions.

It looks neat and nippy from the outside, with the snub nose and high headlights typical of a modern small car and an alert, tail-up profile. In place of the old model's 1.1-litre, 66bhp engine is a choice of two new units, a 1.2-litre with a racy 87bhp or a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit with that same 66bhp but reduced CO2 emissions (108g/km, or 98 in the Blue Drive version, compared with the previous 119). You sit in the same sort of upright, in-control driving position as in the old i10, but you're aware of more car around you. Rear passengers have more space, too, but this is still a usefully small car.

The little engine makes an appealingly musical three-cylinder thrum, but some of the old i10's eagerness has been squashed here despite slightly better outright acceleration. You can blame the longer-legged gearing for some of this, which improves the economy if you drive gently as well as contributing to the i10's impressive quietness, but if you're to overtake anything or tackle an uphill motorway you have to change down a gear and rev the engine hard.

Nor does the new i10 feel as agile as the old one, although it steers precisely enough, strings bends together with fluidity and soaks up bumps well. The whole car feels calmer and more passive; it does what you want it to do without encouraging any exuberance.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

    £96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

    Recruitment Genius: PA

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert