I started writing this review a year ago but never really finished it. Shame, really. Laziness and procrastination aside, I decided to put off a review of a car straight out of the casa and be blinded by the new-car blinkers. A year ago, after being all too anxious about replacing my old clunker, I decided to go against conventional financial wisdom and get a car loan for a new car.
With a meager budget, the only cars that fit my finances were the Hyundai i10 and Getz and the Suzuki Celerio and all that’s cheaper (like the Suzuki Alto and the Chery). Wanting a compromise of a hint of creature comforts and performance, I decided to go with the i10.
The i10 was first introduced locally with a 1.1L GL (MT and AT) and a 1.2 GLS (MT and AT) variants. Seems pretty redundant since Hyundai still had a small car offering in the Getz. Now, there’s a new i10 but it’s basically the same machine underneath aside from revisions in the front and back ends with new lights and bumpers. A rear spoiler seems to come standard on the 1.2L as well and they seem consistent with Hyundai’s aggressive design language.
Since it’s been almost a year since I drove it off the dealership lot, I’ll focus more on how it is as a car to own. I haven’t really done hardcore power tests and since it’s my car, I won’t even dare try to give it the full beans. Not that I haven’t tried having some fun in it.
Economy can be a concern too. As a small car, it’s not exactly the cheapest to run. At best, you can only squeeze out 8 km to the liter on bumper-to-bumper city traffic. My light-footed driving style can only get 10 to 11 km/L in mixed driving conditions. Maintenance is on the high side as well. My first 1,000 and 5,000 km cost me around Php 1,800 with the free labor discount from the dealership. Those are just standard oil changes with the oil and filter as goods.
The 1.2L engine is surprisingly good for city speeds. I drive it up and down Sumulong Highway in Antipolo and it doesn’t feel all to strained going uphill. It has decent hatak comparable to the likes a Toyota Vios or a Honda City. I once drove a 1999 1.6L automatic Ford Lynx up the same road the Lynx felt fat and slow compared to the sensation of the i10. On the highway, the automatic feels like it needs a fifth gear though as it strains pushing past 100 kph when it starts to need more than 3,000 rpm to get more speed.
The car’s piece de resistance perhaps is the combination of the (considerably) nippy engine performance and the handling. The car is quite agile around bends. Going downhill on Sumulong can be a treat. I just don’t try to take corners past 70 kph though since, as a front-wheel drive car, it understeers and you can feel a hint of it even at 60 kph in a moderate bend. The feel of the electronic power steering is quite nice too. It’s surprisingly light and responsive.
A word of caution though if you decide to have some fun with the car. You have to have a deft right foot for the braking. By popular cars in the Philippines’ standards, the brakes are pretty poor. The brake clearance feels like it’s just 2 centimeters making the brake pedal essentially a switch. The brakes are either on or it’s off. Very much unlike brakes from Toyota or Nissan which feel like they tighten the grasp every millimeter they dig towards the carpet or even Mitsubishi cars which have quite a lot of clearance before the brake fully engages. Since the i10s sold locally do not have ABS, it can be tricky thing to master. Prepare to look like an idiot with all the sudden braking you’d be doing. Leave a huge clearance between you and the car up front.
Size is an issue as depending on how you look at it. On the up side, it’s very roomy for a car it’s size since you get plenty of head room. My friend who stands six feet tall once hitched a ride and he was quite comfortable. And I once hauled a twin-tub washing machine with the back seats folded down. The back seats don’t fold down flat though. So for a bachelor/ette or a young couple with a child, it can be a practical city car.
On the down side, you will suffer from small car syndrome. Manila roads are full of morons who compensate for their meager penis inches by slapping on huge aftermarket tailpipes and they will sure bully the smaller car. So be prepared to be overtaken and pressed for space every single time. The i10’s pathetic horn doesn’t serve the driver well. Since I already suffer from small man syndrome, it does test my patience quite a lot.
For all practical purposes the car has served me well so far and I have not experience any major problems with it save for a few squeaks and rattles thanks to the plastic interior. It’s a cheap car (relatively) made in a fellow third world country (India) so don’t expect Lexus-level of build quality.
All in all, I have no full-blown regrets about buying the car. Though once in a while, when finances get tough, I bemoan the monthly amortization.