Engine capacity: 998cc three cylinder
Power output (PS@rpm): 68 @ 62000
Top speed (mph): 93
0-62 mph (seconds): 14.8
Fuel economy (mpg): 67.3 (combined)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 99
The Hyundai i10 has been top of city car class for some time now and with a mid-life makeover its Korean manufactures have opted to go green to rival the new segment challenger the latest Kia Picanto. A new 998cc, three-cylinder engine, plus a host of additional eco features including low rolling resistance tyres, an Eco drive indicator that tells you when the most effective time to change gear and Hyundai’s excellent stop-start system, allow the little car to come in under the magic number of 100g of emissions per kilometre to qualify for vehicle tax exemption and freedom from the London congestion charge.
On the road it's nippy enough and its tiny 68bhp engine has just enough gusto for city overtaking – it does require some serious revving, resulting in a rather pleasing offbeat grunt from such a small car. As you’d expect overtaking on the motorway requires considerable forethought and a not inconsiderable dose of bravery but it did well enough for me on a two-hour M4 run recently.
It handles well enough in corners and importantly, thanks to its smaller 13-inch wheels, doesn’t feel bumps (too) badly. The same can’t be said for wind and tyre noise, which as you’d expect are pretty considerable on the motorway and on major roads. And loaded with four adults or a few pieces of luggage, its tiny engine struggles somewhat on hills and needs constant downshifting out of the ‘suggested’ gear to push it forward. But what do you expect in a green car for less than £10,000?
You could perhaps expect some stylish looks but the i10 disappoints here. Frankly it's not a pretty car inside or out and relies instead on some surprisingly good spec for such a cheap motor – it boasts an iPod plug-in, air conditioning and a five-year warranty (with breakdown cover). One spec gripe though has to be a difficult to use interface for the iPod plug-in. Despite my best efforts I just couldn’t get the thing track through all my iPod’s songs, which is annoying for something the model should stand out for but not not uncommon even among more expensive vehicles.
In fairness the i10 Blue isn’t about style, performance or hi-tech options though. Its aim is five-seater green performance for less than £10,000 and in those stakes it's hard to beat. For the city driver, especially those in London, it makes great financial and ecological sense. If you're not an urbanite though, opt for the 1.2 litre model which is £1,000 cheaper, packs more punch and still only costs £20 a year in tax.
The new Kia Picanto (almost mechanically-identical) is the obvious and cheaper rival with it's unrivalled seven year warranty but the Fiat 500 with the excellent Twin Air engine is more fun to drive and looks great if you are willing to spend a little more.