Model: Hyundai i10
Engine: 4-cylinder 12-valve 1.1-litre petrol
Performance: Top speed 94mph, 0-62mph in 15.6 secs, 56.5mpg
Worth considering: Fiat Panda, Kia Picanto, Suzuki Swift
It's sometimes hard to be truly objective when you're reviewing a car at the very cheap end of the market. Having been spoilt by some fairly fast and exotic machinery in the past, it's difficult not to notice how very basic everything is when you climb into a no-frills car such as the Hyundai i10.
But let's not be too harsh. For the bargain-basement price of £6,495, this car offers the urban driver quite a lot. Air conditioning, ABS, central locking, a decent CD player as well as a dependable 4-cylinder 1.1 litre petrol engine with decent economy. You'll get around 46.3 miles to each gallon of petrol around town, which – while not the very best on offer – is right up there for cars in this price bracket.
Emissions are low, too. At just 119g/km of CO2, you'll qualify for the lowest band of road tax, and keep a clearer eco-conscience than some road users.
For longer journeys, the i10 won't deliver the most comfortable journey, but it'll get you there. It'll happily cruise at 70mph or 80mph – even with a full load of passengers – although it is noisy and will make sure you feel every ripple in the road surface. But then that isn't what this car was designed for.
If you can't do without features such as remote locking and automatic control of the rear windows, these are available in the next model up for just an extra £600, and you can even plump for alloy wheels, heated seats and an electric sun-roof for around £8,000. But if you're just using this as a car to run about town, who needs these anyway?
Most valuable of all is Hyundai's five-year unlimited-mileage guarantee, and a 10 year anti-perforation warranty – which demonstrates how confident the manufacturer is that they've developed a dependable and durable vehicle.
Aesthetically, it's nothing to write home about, but it's as good-looking as the Fiat Panda and Nissan Micra – and you'll save hundreds of pounds by plumping for the i10 rather than these.
There's nothing here for the enthusiast, but for drivers in search of something functional and good value, it's well worth a look.
Monica Parle, 31
Copy editor, London
Usual car: Toyota Matrix
As a newcomer to the UK, I'm still wary about driving on the left. My last experience here was driving a borrowed SUV; my partner worried (justifiably) that I'd clip the kerb every time in roundabouts. So the Hyundai i10 was a pleasant surprise; compact and easy for a novice to manoeuvre through roundabouts, tight lanes and London-style traffic. That said, once I got on the motorway, I had second thoughts as I hurtled along, hearing every bump in the road and feeling my hands vibrate on the wheel. At that point, I was missing the smooth ride of the big SUV. Still, given that the i10 is affordable, eco- friendly and easy to park, it would probably be an entirely reasonable car for local driving.
Matthew Symonds, 29
Usual car: Suzuki Swift
As the driver of a 10-year-old, no-frills Suzuki Swift, I felt at home in the i10. Its size is ideal for tucking into marginal parking-places, and it handled perfectly well on a variety of upland roads. The suspension did not make for a comfortable experience, though. For me, the biggest problem was visibility; I'm 6ft 1in and the high seating position put my eye-line at the level where the screen tint begins; surprisingly distracting. Reversing was even worse, with the back-seat headrests obscuring about a third of the rear window. Add some passengers and it's like trying to reverse through an arrow slit. But there's plenty of headroom for the taller driver, while the excellent fuel efficiency will be a comfort to all.
Alex Weir, 30
Research scientist, Oxford
Usual car: Vauxhall Corsa GLS 1.4
Given that my normal car is a 13-year-old 100,000-plus miles Corsa, I was expectingthe Hyundai to be a definite improvement. It has a few nice touches, such asair-con and electric front windows as standard, and very low fuel consumption.
But the ride is a bit bumpy (particularly for back-seat passengers) and the handling pretty average, and there were surprising (if relatively trivial) omissions, such as no intermittent wiper setting or remote door-locking. Perhaps a good option as a town runabout, particularly with the low road tax and London Congestion Charge exemption, but not something I think I'll be tempted by as a Corsa replacement.
If you would like to take part in The Verdict, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Verdict, Save & Spend, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.