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Click to view road test review picture galleryThe new Hyundai i10
  — small car plus small
  price equals big sales.
  Noticeably ahead of
  its rivals in the value-
  for-money and
  equipment stakes, the
  i10 also comes with
  a reassuring five-year

HYUNDAI WILL NOT ONLY PROMOTE THE CITY-CAR i10 as a lot of car for the money it's priced from under 6,500 with air conditioning as standard but it will be building on the marque's five-year warranty with a strong finance package.

As the credit-crunch is expected to bite the UK car market hard this spring and summer — one major bank is boldly predicting a million less people now planning to buy a new car — the finishing touches are now being put to the financial package to roll out with the Hyundai i10.

Forecasters have given the new i10 a 3-year/60,000 mile residual value of 39 per cent. Coupled with its low emissions, low road tax and Benefit in Kind company car tax rating, this will make it particularly appealing to corporate buyers including daily rental fleets.

The i10 is an important car for Hyundai. Not only does it lift the brand to a new level of competitiveness, but it will also create the right atmosphere for the introduction of other new models this year — the larger Hyundai i30 Estate and an eight-seat MPV are all heading for UK showrooms this year.

Hyundai UK expects to sell about 19,000 i10 models in a full year and to take their overall car sales from last year's 29,765 units to 32,000 this year, with the additional new models just mentioned lifting business further in 2009.

Hand-in-hand with this growth is a desire to gradually increase the number of UK dealers from today's 155 outlets to the optimum of 185, and to fill some open points around the country, principally in large metropolitan areas.

The Hyundai i10 is essentially a replacement for the discontinued
Amica but it is an appreciably larger car in this sector, where rivals
are also growing in size.

The launch of the i10 marks the point at which Hyundai becomes an all-air conditioned range. This will bring drivers a real benefit, not just in hot weather, but also in the winter when the dehumidifying effect results in much quicker demisting. Also included in the class-leading equipment list are four airbags, a six-speaker stereo with MP3-compatible CD player and aux-in socket, 14-inch wheels, electric windows and central locking.

All i10s are powered by a 1.1-litre, 65bhp petrol engine which is capable of 56.5mpg on the combined cycle, and which produces just 119g/km of CO2 for the Classic and Comfort models. All of which means the i10 qualifies for a road fund licence charge of just 35 per year along with the new 10 per cent Benefit-in-Kind company car tax level.

There are four versions of the Hyundai i10: the Classic at 6,495, Comfort 7,095, Style 7,595 and Comfort Auto at 7,895.

All models have air conditioning, four airbags, five seats, Isofix mountings, electric windows, colour-coded bumpers, central locking and an integrated radio with MP3-compatiable CD player and, of course, that all-important auxiliary port for your MP3 player. This level of equipment is standard on the entry-level Classic trim, but for there are two steps up the range. And that peace-of-mind five-year warranty.

The Comfort is available with a manual or automatic gearbox and gains alloys, rear electric windows, front fog lights, a height-adjustable driver's seat, power outlet, electric door mirrors, remote central locking and colour coding on the exterior mirrors and door handles.

At the top of the range, the Style comes with, additionally, 15-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, metal grain fascia, a rear roof spoiler and an electric sunroof.

Not only do the models share the same engines but also four disc brakes, ABS and electronic brake force distribution. Suspension is by front struts and rear torsion beam with electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.

The 1.1-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine — already familiar to Getz and Amica owners — has been revised to improve performance and emissions. As a result it is capable of 56.5mpg on the combined cycle and 64.2mpg on the extra-urban run. The top speed is a respectable 95mph, meaning the i10 should never feel strained at legal motorway speeds.

With 65bhp and 73lb ft of torque on tap, the 0-60mph time is 15.6 seconds in the five-speed manual but takes 18.5 seconds with the four-speed automatic.

The five-door body will seat four passengers and has a 285-litre boot — enough for weekend shopping but a struggle for a set of golf-clubs. Not that should worry many i10 owners.

The manual gearbox version I drove seemed to be much better matched to the 1.1-litre engine; the automatic transmission does rob it of some much-needed power, particularly on hills and when moving away from traffic lights. Good points included slick and easy gear changes and the steering made light work of parking without being too vague on the open road. Ride quality was generally good, and the handling safe-and-sure on dry roads over the test route.

Inside, the room was fair for those in front although with the front seats set for six-footers those travelling in the back would feel it a squeeze if they too were above average height. The i10's cabin is simple and attractive, and shows careful thought in the colour and texture of fascia, seats and headlining. All of which makes it an easy car to live with on a daily basis.

There is no doubt the Hyundai i10 is the equal of its rivals in terms of ability and comfort, but it moves noticeably ahead of them in the equipment and value-for-money stakes, and with a strong finance package and that long warranty in your back pocket, it provides the residual value and reassurance so important at this end of the market. — Robin Roberts

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Hyundai i10 Classic | 6,495
Maximum speed: 95mph | 0-62mph: 15.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 56.5mpg | Power: 65bhp | Torque: 73lb ft

CO2 119g/km

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