The Hyundai i10, Korea's latest addition to the South African market, enters one of the most competitive segments at a tough time for the local industry.
The current South African new vehicle sales market is a grim portrait when compared with the fantastic highs experienced two to three years ago. However, people still want to own new cars. And if there are cars to be sold, they'll be of the smaller engined variety. Incidentally, that's right up the new Hyundai i10's alley.
Incorporating the Korean manufacturer's new family look first seen on the i30 subcompact, the i10 is neatly styled with a clear European influence seen in the oversized light clusters, bulbous front end and upright rear end design.
Locally, Hyundai keeps it simple with the new i10.
There's one body style - the five-door - and one specification level - GLS. i10 comes equipped with comfort features such as air conditioning, central locking, power steering, electric windows at the front.
Fourteen-inch steel wheels are standard, although a range of alloy wheels is available.
Combining safety with sporty styling is the high-mounted brake light integrated in the rear spoiler. Hyundai quotes a four-star Euro NCAP rating four child and adult occupants, and a three-star rating for pedestrians.
The littlest addition to the Hyundai range does come standard with a full-sized spare wheel, and a 60/40 split rear bench for loading larger parcels. The cabin is well laid out and compact, but not cramped. Local cars will be offered with a dark grey interior only and materials used are basic although they appear hardy.
i10 may be small, but don't let that fool you. The fuel injected 1.1-litre engine is carried across from the Atos and tweaked to produce 49 kW at 5 500 r/min and a peak torque figure of 99 Nm at 2 800 r/min. A five-speed manual transmission channels the power to the front wheels. Top speed is claimed to be 152 km/h.
Of course, it's at its best at city speeds where the electric steering is evenly weighted - not as fidgety as one would expect. On the open road, it needs to be revved to get going and momentum is everything and it cruises fairly easily for a city car once it's moving.
Given the car's "city slicker" mandate, the ride is acceptable at speed. Steering feedback also remains superb and i10 grips varyingroad surfaces with supreme confidence.
Regarding the all-important fuel consumption, Hyundai Global quotes a 4.3 l/100 km fuel index, although Hyundai SA admits that a more realistic figure on the combined cycle would be about 6 l/100 km. Emissions are quoted at 139 g/km.
But if you think Hyundai's Atos is being put out to pasture with the launch of the new i10, think again. Atos will continue as a cheaper, manual option at the lower end of the budget car spectrum to compete against Volkswagen's CitiGolf and the like.
Unashamedly aimed at youngsters (although moms and those gearing up for the purchase of their last cars are not being excluded), list prices for the i10 are under the important R100 000-mark.
1.1 GLS 5-sp manual R89 900
1.1 GLS 4-sp auto R99 900
Like all vehicles in Hyundai's local range, the i10 benefits from the importer's benchmark-setting five-year/150 000 km warranty. Services are required at 15 000-km intervals.