Test drive: Hyundai i10 1.25 MPI

The urban utility segment is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers, especially in our market, with a share of around 5%. This has led manufacturers to make cars with a more attractive design, more technology and more equipment, although large sums of money cannot be invested in the development and technologies of these models, since the goal is to offer a product at an affordable price.

The current i10 has been on sale since 2013, although in November last year we saw it receive a restyling. Although its changes were slight, they were successful and successful, giving one of the best cars in the segment. Why do I think so? Because for how small it is on the outside, it is very well used, in addition to having a boot of 252 liters -think that the car is only 3.66 meters-.


I also think so because the finish is above many of its European rivals (although the smell of plastics is not the best) and its equipment is impressive in a car of these characteristics. Ok, yes, the press unit is the top of the range version and with all the extras available, which makes it very good looking, but even so, how many A-segment cars offer a sunroof without being of the so-called chic ones?

As you can see the car in the pictures, it can be had, with discounts, for just 12,000 euros. However, another reason why I think the i10 can be a contender for the city throne is because it's incredibly easy to drive in the city, with a size, handling and engine that make it perfect for this area.

The Hyundai i10 is an important model in the A-segment. It is the sixth best-selling car in Spain so far this year.

The i10 has improved in everything for 2017, and now this model designed, developed and manufactured in Europe comes loaded with new features to become a reference within the urbanites. Let's take a look at its strengths and weaknesses.


Design

As the exterior design of the model that was sold a few months ago seemed to like among European consumers, the makeover has been slight and has served to reinforce a more youthful image and, incidentally, also more sympathetic.

The front grille has been updated, adopting the "waterfall" design of the other models in the range (and those to come). At the ends of this, we find the LED daytime running lights, rounded, with a blade inside and well visible. The side indicators have been relocated and are now on the mirrors instead of on the wings, but on the top finishes. The fog lights also change their shape, adapting to the design of a more aggressive bumper.

In the side view, as usual, is where there are fewer changes. The B-pillar is finished in black, the side moldings have also been renewed, as well as the new wheels, available in both 14″ and 15″. The clearly ascending line gives dynamism to the car, with a C-pillar that marries perfectly between the design of the rear windows and the rear window. Well, I say moon because it's well camouflaged, but it's a piece of plastic next to it that helps the design to be offset. Comparisons with the first generation Mercedes A-Class are very tempting.

At the rear we see a bumper where horizontality predominates so it doesn't look like such a narrow car. The fog lights, like the daytime running lights, are rounded and are located within a black plastic strip that also houses the license plate. A small spoiler with integrated brake light and simple but successful headlights, complete a set that does not fall into the overload.


With an aerodynamic coefficient of 0.31, the i10 allows good penetration against the air.

The i10 is only sold with a five-door body, something that is becoming increasingly common in all segments. Its dimensions are small, with 3.66 meters long, 1.66 meters wide and 1.50 meters high, with a wheelbase of 2.39 meters. As for customization there is not much to choose from, but we can choose between different levels of finishes, nine colors and two types of tires.

Cabin

Looking at the exterior dimensions, we might expect a small cabin, but no, quite the opposite. It's not that it's the pinnacle of space, but it's not at all badly used. In fact, it is homologated for five occupants, something that not all its rivals can boast, although, yes, five occupants are not going to be comfortable. However, the rear seats of the small Korean car are designed so that tall people can sit there comfortably, seats that more than one B-segment car would like to have.

As for the trunk, with 252 liters, we will have enough for the day to day. With two people you can still make a trip, but with more, it will be difficult to fit all the luggage. If the objects that we put are too big, when folding the seats we will have 1,046 liters. Under the floor, there is a spare wheel "cookie". The tailgate also has an opening of 0.92 meters, one of the widest in this type of car.


In the front seats there is no problem. Both pilot and co-pilot will have no lack of space or feeling of being cramped because one of the positive points of the i10 is its glazed surface, which allows great visibility, and if equipped with a sunroof, even more so.

Once seated, finding a good driving position will not be complicated, although the lack of depth adjustment of the steering wheel may be annoying for some users. The seatbelts, in the Style trim, can be adjusted in height, something not very common among smaller cars. With the butt already well accommodated, we note that the driving position is high even if we take the seat in the lowest position.

Behind the steering wheel, there's a clock display consisting of a rev counter, speedometer, coolant oil temperature gauge, fuel gauge and a monochrome screen with information on fuel consumption, range, temperature and distance to go until the next service.

In the center of the dashboard highlights the 7″ touch screen, only available in the Tecno Plus and Style finish. It includes radio control, the multimedia system, telephone, Bluetooth, TomTom Live navigation, WiFi hotspot (uses external mobile connection) and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is easy to use, intuitive, smooth and not at all frustrating - the opposite of Toyota's, really.

Live services are free for seven years. They offer real-time traffic information, points of interest, speed camera positions and weather forecasts.

Underneath the multimedia equipment we find a single-zone climate control, the auxiliary audio input, a USB port and the 12V socket. The hole where all this is located is useful to leave the mobile or wallet, plus it has an openable cover in case we leave it there and we do not want anyone to see it.

The so criticized qualities... let's talk about them. We won't find any soft plastics, not even one; they're all hard plastics. Does that mean it's a bad thing? It doesn't have to, there are plastics and "plastics" (the latter being understood as those that are of dubious quality). All the panels are well fitted and, in fact, there's nowhere inside the car where any sheet metal is visible, which is a nice touch despite a certain someone dubbing it the "lego car".

Most of the plastics have a rough feel and some of them can be painted to match the upholstery. The interior is configurable in four different colors: orange, beige, blue and red, all combined with black. The only plastics that do clash a bit are the smooth ones, that is, those of the central dashboard, climate control and button panel, both the steering wheel and the power windows. It's not that they are bad, but they are of those that get dirty and you can see our fingerprints almost by looking at them.

Oh, and the door handles painted in silver, for a moment I thought they were made of aluminium. And now that I mention the power windows, they are button-operated in all four doors (high trim), although only the driver's one has a one-touch function.

There are quite a few storage spaces, and I was positively surprised by the fact that the back of the car has storage bags, with space for bottles of one and a half liters even.

Depending on the trim level you choose, the i10 is well equipped in terms of safety. As standard it comes with six airbags, five head restraints, stability control and tyre pressure monitoring. If you want hill start assist (which only works on very steep slopes), cornering headlights, keyless start, proximity detector, rear parking sensor, sunroof, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, forward collision warning, emergency braking signal ESS or lane departure warning, you have to stretch a little further and go for the top of the range.

In effect, if you get the bare-bones model, what you're getting is a basic means of transport that gets you from point A to point B, with zero frills. If you decide to spend the money on the higher trims (Tecno Plus and Style) you get a very decent car, something that a few years ago was unthinkable in this segment.

Technical

The mechanical offer is not very extensive, but it is sufficient. Both are two petrol engines: a three-cylinder 1.0 MPI with 66 hp and 95 Nm, and a four-cylinder 1.25 MPI with 87 hp and 121 Nm. Both engines transmit their power to the front axle via a five-speed manual gearbox, or a four-speed torque converter automatic.

The first engine is capable of delivering maximum power at 5,000 RPM and doing 0-100 km/h in 14.7 seconds, with a top speed of 156 km/h. It's a bit short if you're planning to leave the village sometime. However, the four-cylinder Kappa engine offers maximum power a little higher -6,000 RPM- as a good naturally aspirated engine. With the manual gearbox, it dispatches 0-60 mph in 12.1 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 171 mph. This is the engine we tested and the most suitable for everyday use, in my humble opinion.

There are no diesel engines on offer, and there's no need for them. It is a car whose performance is not paramount and is not very high; its core is the city and will rarely be used for long journeys. Only Fiat is already committed to these mechanics in the A-segment, as we saw recently with the Fiat 500 1.3 MultiJet.

The feel of the clutch and gear lever is appropriate for a car of this type: smooth and easy to handle. The clutch in fact has a very long travel and, for the first few centimetres, it doesn't do anything at all. Why? Because there are many people who like to drive with their foot resting on the left pedal, and that, over time, causes the clutch disc to wear out sooner; it's a bad habit, but in this car it's less noticeable. The gear lever is high, very handy, with guided and precise travel.

The only downside I can put is the reverse gear. I don't know if it's the same in all units or only in this one, but sometimes, with the clutch pedal fully depressed, the reverse did not enter at all. I had to lift my foot a little bit to get it to engage properly, curious...

The engine is really quiet, as well as progressive and refined. The soundproofing has been very well worked by the engineers of the brand, which claim that it is 2 decibels below the best of its competitors. It is not an engine that will leave you stunned when accelerating at full throttle, but being so linear and progressive, it responds better to take it through the upper area of the rev counter, especially above 3,000 RPM. Recovery is not the best as, with an 80-120 km/h in third gear in 12 seconds, you have to think about overtaking on conventional roads and merges.

With a 40-litre tank, we should be able to cover 600 kilometres without a fuss until the next refuelling.

Fuel consumption is not bad. It's rated at 4.9 l/100 km, although during the more than 500 kilometres I've driven with it, the average consumption was 5.6 litres per 100 km. So far, it's one of the cars in segment A that has swallowed the least amount of dinosaur juice for Pistonudos, albeit by tenths of a litre.

On the highway it's easy to get it around five litres or even less, but in town it's a different story. I say again what I said in the Ford Ka+ test: this Kappa engine is not the latest technology, it's a block designed by Hyundai almost a decade ago and, even so, its fuel consumption is lower than many turbocharged or naturally aspirated three-cylinder engines of similar power. Every time I believe less and less the real efficiency of these "new" engines.

At the chassis level we have a McPherson type suspension on the front axle and a torsion bar at the rear. Both the spring and shock absorber settings give priority to comfort, being able to stop easily if we go over some light speed bumps. Nothing new in the firmament, is something shared by all its rivals. In the brakes section, we find discs on both axles, with a diameter of 252 mm front and 234 mm rear housed in 185/55 R15 wheels. This is something not all its rivals have, which still rely on rear drums or save the difference.

Driving

The ride in this urbanite has mainly been focused on its favourite terrain, although we've also taken it for a drive outside of town to see how it behaves. As I said earlier, the handling of the car is super easy and straightforward, it won't make you sweat even with the worst of parking.

Speaking of, finding parking doesn't get overly complicated in fact. Any gap where you think there's at least 10 feet between cars will fit. Its 9.2-metre turning circle and light steering, coupled with the rear parking sensor (if fitted), will make driving and parking manoeuvres child's play. In addition, the GPS acts with precision and redirects quickly and correctly when you take the wrong street.

On the open road, it's also a breeze to handle. Maintaining constant speeds of 100-120 km/h will be a piece of cake, although reaching and surpassing them will take a bit of patience. With 87 hp we can't expect miracles, but it does the job. At least I can say that they are horsepower and not ponies as in the case of the Ka+.

Between 3,000 and 4,500 RPM is where we will get the best out of the car's mechanics.

If someone is planning to go cornering with it, don't get excited. The suspensions are soft and, dynamically, the car is not a marvel, but it can be a bit of fun in certain circumstances. The traction control works at all times, even if the instrument panel says otherwise. If you go too far, the brakes will kick in, albeit subtly.

And what about the beeps. The car beeps for everything. If you're not wearing your seatbelt, it beeps. If the passenger isn't either, it beeps. If the lights are on, it beeps. If the door is not properly closed, it beeps. If the handbrake is on, it beeps. If you haven't turned the car off properly, it beeps. If you get out of the car and the keys are inside, it beeps. In driving, if the car predicts you're going to crash, it beeps, and if it senses you're drifting out of your lane... it doesn't beep; just kidding, it beeps too.

It's a wonderful symphony when you get in the car and everything starts beeping just because. But it's not a complaint, it's ok, the car will tell you everything you can do.

Conclusions

During the days of testing, the small i10 has proved to be one of the best little cars in this segment, and I really mean it. Its design won't be the best looking of them all, nor will it be the most dynamic or the best finished, but it doesn't fail in almost anything. Where it does win more is in habitability, comfort, agility and docility.

The full equip model has a high starting price, about 16,000 euros long. However, if we put the discounts, for just 12,000 euros we can get it. For that price, honestly, there is little better to choose from in the first-hand market.

Another positive point is that its maintenance is not expensive either. It has a very simple mechanics, as well as the rest of its components. When it comes to watering it is not a ruin either. There is no need for a diesel engine in a car like this, it would only increase the price of acquisition and maintenance, as well as more complexity and more likely to fail before an atmospheric mechanics more than proven. A Start&Stop system would be a luxury.

Also, remember that Hyundai offers a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, as well as five years of roadside assistance and five years of free maintenance if you finance with them. It's something to keep in mind.



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