The Hyundai i10 might not have the chunky, smart styling of the VW Up!, but it is comfortable, fun to drive, remarkably spacious and great value. That’s why we rate it so highly as a university car, first-time car or even as a school-run car – it’s just great if you want cheap, safe, compact transport. Hyundai have a pretty good reputation for reliability and if you’re looking for something a little chunkier or to haul kids about in, the Santa Fe is a good bet too.

Inside the Hyundai i10

Wide opening rear doors and a high roof, as well as two pairs of Isofix fittings and plenty of leg- and headroom in the rear seats, make the i10 surprisingly good for ferrying kids around town. There are also three seatbelts in the back seat, so the i10 can carry three on the back seat, unlike most rivals, although it’ll be a bit of a squeeze for the middle passenger.

The boot is big by city car standards, as well, so you’ll get a standard single buggy in easily, even if a wide or off-road buggy with chunky tyres will be a bit of a struggle.

The second-generation i10 turned up in 2012 and went off sale in 2020 to make way for the latest i10 release. The older version is also well worth considering given how cheap it is. It’s also surprisingly good to drive and very roomy, but it feels dated now so we’re concentrating on the excellent-value later model.

Under the Hyundai i10’s hood

Engine options were either a 65bhp three-cylinder, 1.0-litre or an 86bhp 1.2-litre petrol, and both are smooth, eager-revving engines that will do a fine job around town. The 1.2’s a bit better if you go out on the motorway regularly as the 1.0-litre can feel a little wheezy at high speeds, but the i10 is hardly a long-distance commuter anyway. Both had five-speed manual gearboxes, or the 1.2 can also be had with a four-speed automatic that shifts gear smoothly but let the engine get pretty buzzy at motorway speeds.

Hyundai i10 spec and tech

Go for SE or up; the base S level is pretty basic and misses out on air-con. SE added loads of comforts, including cruise control, digital radio and Bluetooth for handsfree phone connection. Top-spec Premium cars get alloy wheels and climate control, or Premium SE even gets heated seats and steering wheel, and parking sensors.

In September 2016, a facelift meant that every Hyundai i10 got a touchscreen system with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a great addition, as it means you can use your phones apps on the car’s touchscreen, and when your phone updates so does the interface on CarPlay etc, making it less of a problem that the factory-fit nav software in cars tends to date very quickly.

The i10 has a great reputation for reliability and has very few common issues. Brake pads have been reported to stick occasionally, and clutches might slip but otherwise, there’s very little to worry about.

Hyundai also offer a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty on their new cars so you can pick up a nearly-new i10 with plenty of warranty remaining for a great price. Sexy it isn’t, but the i10 is about as recommendable and good value as a used car gets.

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