Hyundai i10 1.0-litre prototype first drive review
What is it?
A prototype version of the all-new Hyundai i10. a compact hatchback that’s designed to rival cars such as the Fiat Panda .
We tested an early version of the next-gen Hyundai i10 in Sweden earlier this year, but now engineers report the car is almost production ready and Autocar was invited to Turkey to drive a late prototype.
The new i10 needs to build on the success of the previous model; in 2008 we named the first i10 our car of the year. But while we loved its packaging and style, it was clear the Hyundai needed to grow up and find its own place in the market.
So this version – based on a new platform shared with the latest Kia Picanto that makes it both longer and wider than the last – has some big shoes to fill, especially given the rise of Volkwagen’s Up .
Hyundai readily states it has benchmarked the new i10 against both the baby VW and the Fiat Panda, saying it wants to offer the quality and space of a B-segment car with the body, and price, of an A-segment model. By anyone’s standards, that’s a big ask.
What is it like?
We were granted access to two versions of the i10 on our trip to the Izmit factory: an entry-level three-cylinder 1.0-litre and a higher-powered 1.25 four-pot.
Final power outputs are still to be confirmed, but since both these engines are carried over from the previous generation, expect around 68bhp and 84bhp respectively. There may also be a higher-powered four-cylinder 1.0-litre at launch, but Hyundai says there are no plans for a diesel in the range at the moment.
The 1.0-litre car displayed quick throttle response with good acceleration from low revs. There was a lot less engine noise than expected, too, evidencing the considerable effort Hyundai has put into improving the mechanical refinement of its engines.
We were limited on speed during our short test run, but power felt forthcoming through all five gears, with very few flat spots. The manual transmission coped well, and gears seemed nicely spaced.
The ride was comfortable, with little body roll in corners. Hyundai has chosen new suspension hardpoints for the i10, and the effect shows, especially under braking. The old model was noted for its tendency to dive forward under heavy stopping force, but there’s been considerable improvement in this regard.
The steering has been retuned, too, with new side load springs being used with the aim of improving feel. Our test route only had one major corner, so definitive statements about feel would be unjustified. That said, in the short time we had with the car the helm felt light, but also nicely weighted under load.
As far as maturity goes, the interior of the new i10 marks a big step up over the old model, providing a more premium feel with plenty of soft-touch furnishings. The driving position is higher than in some rivals, but never compromisingly so, and the seats themselves are comfortable and supportive all round.
Standard equipment on the new i10 is also something Hyundai has worked to improve. As well as safety features like stability control, tyre pressure monitors and six airbags, the standard car will pack in plenty of entertainment kit including auxiliary and USB inputs, two 12V power points and a central multimedia display.
Hyundai has already said it probably won’t be offering satellite navigation on the i10, as market research shows that most people will use their mobile phones or stand-alone devices for navigation. However, we can expect luxuries such as heated seats, electric sunroof and automatic climate control to be available on higher trim levels.
At 252 litres, the i10’s boot is among the biggest in this class, thanks in part to that newly adopted larger platform.
Should I buy one?
To take on larger B-segment rivals as well as its home A-segment competition, the i10 needs to offer the range, comfort and style of vehicles in the higher class while retaining the successful formula of fun driving and smart packaging that has given Hyundai ‘s European market share a big boost in recent years.
If these brief impressions are anything to go by ahead of the final production model’s unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the new i10 is well on its way to doing just that.
For more details and undisguised pictures of the new i10, click here .
Hyundai i10 1.0 (prototype)
Price £9300 (est); 0-62mph 13.9sec (est); Top speed 95mph (est); Economy 67.3mpg (est); CO2 99g/km (est); Kerb weight 1015kg (est); Engine 3 cyls in line, 998cc, petrol; Power 68bhp at 6200rpm (est); Torque 70lb ft at 3500rpm (est); Gearbox 5-spd manual
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