The Hyundai i10 city car will debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, with promise of being the most tech-laden car in its class
Hyundai will unveil the new i10 city car in September at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, as hinted by this shadowy teaser image. When it reaches the UK market in 2020, it will be the most hi-tech and advanced car in a market many rivals are looking to pull out of.
Currently, manufacturers are looking to increase the number of electric cars in their ranges and boost profits, which means the humble city car – the most affordable way into new model ownership – is under threat due to their relatively small profit margins and volumes they sell.
• Best city cars on sale
As such, we expect the i10’s revisions will be minimal, despite the extensive camouflage worn by our previously spied prototypes. Our exclusive images show the new model will share its basic shape with the outgoing variant, sporting the same funky headlamps, centre-mounted daytime running lights and bumper design. Expect little more than a mild tweak to the front and rear bumpers.
Image 2 of 19
Image 2 of 19
In the UK at least, Hyundai has said the i10’s coloured interiors are likely to be phased out, due to their poor sales. Elsewhere inside, a mild update to the infotainment system could be possible for premium models, which are likely to borrow the eight-inch touchscreen found in the larger i30 hatchback.
Under the bonnet, the i10 is expected to stick with Hyundai’s tried-and-tested 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.2-litre four-cylinder engines, but feature tweaks to boost power and efficiency. Further specifications for new i10 will be released in the coming weeks.
City cars’ uncertain future Renault Twingo
The French firm has just revealed an updated version of the Twingo, but Renault UK has announced that the new model will not be sold over here. In fact, once the current stock has been shifted, the Twingo will be axed from UK showrooms due to poor sales. The model was built in conjunction with the Smart ForFour to minimise development costs and boost profits. But even that, it seems, wasn’t enough to save the Twingo.
The Vauxhall Adam is another city car casualty after the British firm announced the model would be pulled from sale at the end of this year. The brand is focusing on more profitable vehicles, such as SUVs, and electrifying its range, as well as switching away from General Motors platforms that it now has to pay to use. Another model that’s due to be axed at the end of 2019 is the smaller and cheaper Vauxhall Viva.
Toyota is set to go its own way with the next Aygo. Currently developed and built in conjunction with the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, the model could become a standalone electric city car for the next generation, bosses have hinted. Toyota chief Johan van Zyl told us: “We already have some EVs undergoing trials here in Europe – short-range, inner-city transport. So I think in the future EVs will be part of that.”
Citroen is considering a different approach with its city car, which could see the C1 morph into an EV that is used on a car-sharing service. The brand’s product boss Xavier Peugeot said: “Car sharing is being developed, electrification is coming, so we have to imagine the next form of urban car usage. We have to integrate lots of new ingredients for this next generation of car.”
Verdict: In doubt
The future of the VW up! is also in doubt, according to VW boss Herbert Diess. “In some regions, cars like the up! are working very well,” he told us. “But there comes a point where it gets hard for this type of model to really help with a big contribution to our CO2 obligations.” Diess declined to state that Volkswagen would not develop a successor to the up!, but he said: “We are considering what to offer in Europe.”
By John McIlroy, deputy editor
We shouldn’t be too surprised that manufacturers are taking differing approaches to their city cars, because these vehicles have always danced along the fringes of profitability.
Even the mighty VW Group has struggled to make the idea work, for while we’re big fans of the VW up!, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, privately some of the senior management will admit that the project is not considered a roaring success.
In the short-to-medium term it looks likely that city cars will split in two directions. Some will go pure-electric, helping brands as they strive to reach CO2 emissions targets and carrying a premium that means they don’t do any real damage to the bottom line.
The other trend could be for city car ownership to be usurped by the sort of shared-ownership ‘mobility solution’ that gives you access to a car on a daily or even hourly basis, as you need it. Either way, this whole area of the market looks set for a big change.
Do you think the new Hyundai i10 will be a sales hit? Let us know your thoughts below…