Clever Hyundai top

of the class

Hyundai i10, front action
Hyundai i10
Hyundai i10 side
Hyundai i10 rear action
Hyundai i10 boot
Hyundai i10 dashboard
Hyundai i10, front action 2
Hyundai i10, rear static

ONEday last week Mrs O pointed to the far side of an hotel car park and demanded I take her back to her youth.

Blimey, I thought, it's broad daylight and anyway that was Binky Messerschmitt's wedding and we were all very, very drunk.

As it turns out she wanted to ride shotgun in a VW Scirocco GTS but was making a good point about lost years.

A lot of what I drive these days seems to be so middle aged and practical. Well that's life. It is where we are at, man and in the interests of gender balance, woman.

The GTS does bodice ripping numbers, handles like a headstrong polo pony and were it not for the sports seats, would demand your passengers be Velcroed by the underwear.

Which simply will not do in a world of road tax by boredom. Go away, young man and study an advice leaflet on baby seats while surrendering boot capacity figures to the ministry of sensible shoes.

We have become obsessed with some dubious numbers which make a VED difference of £100 or so a year, less than two quid a week, not even enough for a bag of black market sugar.

Cars have to be beneficial first and foremost for endangered Peruvian voles and restrained as a Girl Guide uniform.

City cars are a good example. Once young people were keen to make happy XR2 and GTi noises razzing around the streets. Now they mince about wearing a pair of emaciated legs and foolish pumps. Should it rain the choice is between trench foot and wet rot.

If they have a car at all it is dangerously slow, cramped and with a solidity suggesting it was once home to delicious Tea Time Assortment biscuits. Exciting? Yes, like cut flowers.

So it is going to take something to surprise me in the city car sector. And Hyundai's i10 has done just that.

It is available with one or 1.2-litre engines and the extra capacity is well worth targeting especially if driving regularly takes you onto grown up roads.

Inside the two-tone styling, tan of black is the standard but other combinations are available, makes the point that people of my generation would be better off in something more suited to the garden centre.

What stands out is the amount of boot space available, so often lacking to the extent that a city car is hardly viable to people who own clothes or go shopping.

The interior finish is good, very good. Remember you have paid a paltry £11,000 for the 1.2 five-speed manual i10 but for you money get an interior which beats some bigger names.

There is no shortage of essentials. All versions come with daytime lights, central locking a CD and USB point but the bigger engine adds air conditioning, remote locking heated mirrors and seat height adjustment. Safety is taken seriously, too with six airbags, stability control - a bit of a key addition in the sector.

That's not to suggest that you buy an i10 then take it out on theWelsh rally. While the engine tone suggest the car to be fun, the numbers remindyouwhat we are about here. A gentle 12.3 seconds will pass before 62mph strolls into view.

Not that the car has been pulled over by the fun police but its joys are in a small turning circle and easy in town handling. Refinement is not a word which tumbles from the lips in this sector but the i10 is comfortable enough.

However, the economics of the car are without doubt. You pay no tax in year one than £30 after that while being promised 58mpg. I didn't get that. You may.

It is not exactly the stuff of graphic equalisers and Wham albums but so far as urban hatchbacks go the i10 is probably the first class-leading Hyundai.

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