Europeans just get the best city cars and the all-new Hyundai i10 stands testament to that

How the i10 city car has evolved from one generation to the next is the story of Hyundai’s growing confidence over the last few years. The first generation car looked humble and honest - it had the appearance of a kei car puffing itself up to look like something Europeans might find appealing. Next came the second-gen i10, with its bold face and overall design, and it was unashamedly European in the way it was perceived and much more proud-looking than the car it replaced.

Now we have the third-gen Hyundai i10 and it again marks a significant leap - this time into the league of the most desirable cars in its class. Compared to similar-size rivals, it almost looks like a premium automaker’s attempt at penetrating the city car class. It still looks distinctly European, just like its predecessor, but this time its design is more subtle and sculptural, and its face is less aggressive.

2019 Hyundai i10 looks really good from the outside

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From the front, it still looks quite menacing, but as you move to the side, it certainly looks more curvaceous and funky than before.

There’s certainly some similarity between its design and that of the new Ford Puma, but at least this isn’t another crossover that’s receiving extra special design attention - it’s Hyundai’s smallest model, yet now I think it looks better than both its larger brothers, the i20 and i30.

Design inspiration for this new i10 “combines opposing elements of softness and sharpness in both the interior as well as the exterior," according to the Chief Designer at Hyundai Design Center Europe, Thomas Bürkle. He adds that Hyundai’s “designers found inspiration in the technical clothes of athletes, which contrast the natural shapes of the human muscles with sharp and technical graphics."

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Exterior
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And now that you know it, you won’t be able to unsee it when looking at the car - it looks like the old car took up a rigorous fitness routine and put on tight-fitting athletic wear to highlight its more bulging muscles. This gym suit look suits it well, though, especially with its contrasting color roof and what Hyundai’s designers call an X-shaped C-pillar.

The i10 can be had with one of 10 exterior colors and the optional contrasting roof, which can be had either in black or red. That means there are quite a few combinations out there, and you’ll have where to choose from.

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The 2019 Hyundai i10 has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. This has allowed the Korean automaker to improve passenger room inside.

The car is also both wider and lower by 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) and this has to be one of the reasons why its stance looks so planted.

In the official press blurb, Hyundai is keen to point out that it’s also improved visibility by lowering the car’s belt line, and since visibility was never an issue in the previous i10, this can only be good news for those who choose this new model. The new i10 can now be had with a reversing camera for the first time and this further improves visibility, especially since the rear screen is not the biggest and there is a slight C-pillar blind spot.

2019 Hyundai i10’s interior makes an equally good impression

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Interior
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Interior design has also taken a big step up. The old i10’s dashboard looked like it belonged in a cheap car - I don’t mean this as a negative point, because i10s have always been honest and affordable runabouts, but at the same time, it wasn’t the nicest place to spend time in. In the old car, the infotainment screen was placed in the dash in a distinctly mid-2000s kind of way, but the new one’s screen is placed on top of the center console, in a similar manner to what you see in the very latest (even premium) cars.

The screen itself is an eight-inch unit (that Hyundai says is the biggest in its class). Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered and there’s even wireless charging too.

Hyundai says it’s also made the 2019 i10 more practical too. Space in the trunk has not grown at all, though, and it’s still rated at 252 liters, but the lip into the trunk has been lowered by 29 millimeters (1.15 inches) - this will make loading and unloading items much easier.

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Interior
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Overall, the ambiance is distinctly more upmarket. The new three-prong steering wheel is another reason why the cabin of the new i10 looks so much better than the old one. The car shown in the official batch of press photos appears to have a two-tone interior going, with dark and very light grey plastics (this is one of the four different interior color combos).

This accentuates the swooping shape of the door panels, and the interior also seems to sport a rather unique looking dimple motif (reproduced on the passenger side part of the dash, the door panels, the gear lever surround and even the speaker covers). It all looks quite impressive - a lot of thought has gone into making this car feel more posh than it is and that’s definitely something buyers in the segment want.

The 2019 Hyundai i10 is pretty safe too

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Exterior
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Hyundai fits all third-gen i10s with what it says is “one of the most comprehensive safety packages in its class and is equipped with the latest Hyundai SmartSense active safety and driving assistance features.” It includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), High Beam Assist (HBA) as standard, but optionally you can also add Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and Intelligent Speed Limit Warning (ISLW).

2019 Hyundai i10’s engines are old and dull

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Exterior
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It can’t be all good news with the i10, though. There has to be a catch and that catch is located under its newly sculpted hood - both powerplants on offer are carryovers from the previous-generation model, which in turn were carried over from the first i10.

They are a 1.0-liter and a 1.2-liter, both naturally aspirated, hooked up to five-speed gearboxes and they are not particularly exciting.

The smaller 1.0-liter is a three-cylinder with 66 horsepower (67 PS) and 96 Nm (71 pound-feet) of torque. The larger mill, the 1.2-liter, is a four-cylinder with 83 horsepower (84 PS) and 118 Nm (87 pound-feet) of torque. Interestingly, it seems to be making less power than the same engine in the old i10 - it’s down four horsepower and two Nm of torque.

The 2019 Hyundai i10 Is So Cute That You Just Want to Pet It Exterior
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Automatic gearbox fans are catered for too. Both engines can be had with an optional automated manual five-speed gearbox (AMT) in regards to which Hyundai says that “compared to a traditional automatic transmission, the AMT increases efficiency thanks to its lighter weight and reduced friction.”

The best compliment you could pay either power plant is that they’re actually pretty efficient. Hyundai has not released official efficiency data for the i10, but with its drag coefficient having been lowered from 0.32 to 0.31 and an available ECO Pack, the new car should improve on the previous model’s 4.9 l/100km (54.7 U.S mpg / 57.6 British mpg) for the 1.0-liter and the 1.2-liter’s 5.5 l/100km (42.8 U.S. mpg / 51.36 British mpg) ratings.

But all these details (and probably more) will be revealed after its official public unveiling at the 2019 Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA).

Further reading

2017 Hyundai i10 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i10.

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