YOU CAN tell a lot by a car’s steering wheel.
Seriously, it’s a good indicator of how the vehicle may perform.
Small and sturdy? Then you have a sporty hatchback, perhaps. Cheap and plasticky? It’s a no-frills budget car. Cluttered with buttons and switches? It’s probably a hi-tech BMW or Audi.
The car tested here has a compact wheel with a short turning circle and a quality feel to it which surprises me, for it’s attached to a budget supermini.
But this is no run-of-the-mill offering. It’s a Hyundai i10, a car which brings new style and class to an ever-improving range of cars.
Budget superminis used to be cheap and nasty. No longer. These vehicles might be used as a family’s second car but there is nothing second-class about them these days.
They are well-equipped, generally cute in appearance and more than capable of handling motorway speeds.
So, how does the i10 measure up? Well, it costs from under £9,000 and comes with a five-year warranty which makes it a very attractive option for younger drivers who want safe and secure motoring.
To that end, it has a very youthful style. The orange cabin is designed to appeal to 20-somethings and it does look better than it sounds.
It is a good car because, quite frankly, if it wasn’t it would be dead in the water. There are so many excellent superminis these days such as Kia Picanto, Suzuki Celerio, Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii, Volkswagen Up!, Toyota Aygo - the list goes on and on.
The i10 is arguably the best all-rounder. It isn’t perfect, though. At 70mph, the engine is crying out for another gear to bring the revs down. And the ride, while great on smooth roads, is a little skittish on uneven surfaces.
But as an overall package, it is stunning. Not only does it look good, but it is well-equipped too with power steering, stability control, air conditioning, cruise control and CD player. Sadly, satellite navigation isn’t an option.
The i10 has won a succession of awards including Scottish Car of the Year and Most Popular City Car by the Honest John website.
The i10 proves that people who down-size need not sacrifice quality and big-car features in the process.
Hyundai i10 1.2 SE
PRICE: £9,936. Range starts at £8,995
ENGINE: A 1,248cc four cylinder unit generating 87ps
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 106mph and 0 to 60mph in 12.3 seconds
COSTS: Town 43.5mpg; country 68.9mpg; combined 57.6mpg
INSURANCE: Group 4A
WARRANTY: Five years’ unlimited mileage