A 1.1 liter iRDE (intelligent Response Drive Engine) helps this car zip around the city in just under a drop of gasoline. But if you want a little more get up and go, you can opt for the slightly more powerful 1.2 liter 16 Valve DOHC engine. Even so, zipping and getting up with such a small engine isn’t that astounding. Driving it though EDSA did prove as a challenge as I constantly had to go on full-throttle just to dodge and keep up with rowdy buses. Yes, the engine does provide some zap speeding through tight corners and narrow streets, but the i10 might get left behind once it hits the open highway. Come to think of it, a car of this size isn’t really suitable for long cross-country drives. It feels more at home in the tight jam-packed streets of the city where fuel efficiency is key.
Driving around with the i10 proved to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Given its size, this four-wheeled miniature is surprisingly stable even at high speeds. Passing through smooth roads was a breeze, but some passengers I brought along with me on the test drive did grumble about the bouncy ride through the poorest of road surfaces. It might be because of the small tires or the stiff suspension. It’s also very capable around corners screeching its donuts sized tires at every hard turn I take. It might not carve the corners like a sharp knife, but it goes wherever you point it to. Sadly, even if Hyundai boasts of its MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering), for some strange reason making 3-point turns became agonizing as the steering wheel felt very heavy and stubborn. On the bright side, with such a short wheelbase the i10 can turn on a dime enabling it to make u-turns in one go.
For the money you’re paying, you do get a lot of car. Once you get onto the driver’s seat, you’d immediately feel that Hyundai didn’t skimp out on the i10. Everything’s well-put together and their choice of material doesn’t make you feel that you’re in a toy store. Although there’s plenty of plastic throughout the interior, coloring them in a nice shade of beige gives a more luxurious look than the traditional black or grey. What impressed me is that they’ve even managed to cover the steering wheel and the shifter with stitched leather, or what at least looked and felt like leather. I’ve honestly never seen leather put on a car with such a cheap price tag. Still, the interior is nothing out of the ordinary and it does feel proper. Also, putting headrests on the rear seats were surely appreciated by all my passengers.
All the little buttons and switches are within reach and there are nicely placed pockets for all your knick-knacks plus a venti mocha frappuccino from Starbucks. They’ve even fitted in an i-Pod ready four-speaker Pioneer sound system that actually has an i-Pod plug unlike others who claim as so, but only offer a USB slot instead. Other knick-knacks worth mentioning that are on the i10 are power windows, rear windshield wipers and key-less entry. However, you still have to adjust the side view mirrors manually. How often do you need to adjust them anyway?
One thing missing from this pretty picture is a trusty feature called ABS. For all those who don’t know what ABS is, it’s that simple yet ingenious invention which would save your life whenever you decide to slam hard on the brakes on a slippery road. Instead, what they put in as standard are dual front airbags. You might not be able to avoid hitting that tree, at least you’ll hit it more gently now that you’ve got a balloon to cushion your face.
I honestly have no clue what the letter “i” in the i10 badge signifies and even a quick trip to my nearest Hyundai dealership didn’t really give me the answer I needed. Instead, what I got is a well rehearsed answer from an SA that the letter “i” on the i10 name stands for the country India since i10’s are made in India. I suppose they get these types of questions often. Quite frankly I’m not convinced. Although I haven’t confirmed this with the people in the high ranks of Hyundai, I don’t know if it’s a bright idea to name a car from its country of origin or else we’d soon end up with cars with names all starting from similar letters.
Overall, in my honest opinion the i10 is the best of the bunch. With a list price of only P518,000 for the M/T and P578,000 for the A/T, it’s the best equipped and the most competitively priced out of all the subcompact cars on the market. There might be some cars that come close but the i10 just edges a nose-length ahead. Yes the ride may feel a wee-bit bumpy and lack ABS, nevertheless I could easily turn a blind eye on these smallest of imperfections and just appreciate this well put-together package.