I just got back from a 7 day trip to the Emerald Isle, and decided to do the thing some tourist sites advised against, and see the island via rental car (most advised against due to cost and confusion regarding roads). We rented via Conn’s Ireland Car Rental which offers fully inclusive rental cars for Ireland. Apparently, while base car rates are actually super cheap, there are all sorts of weird insurance things and coverages that can bite you in the ass if you make even tiny mistakes. I used Conn’s to get a car with everything covered so I didn’t have to worry. Which was great, since I knicked the mirror on something and scratched it and didn’t owe a penny. Anyway, I reserved a Class “B” which is Economy Manual. The website listed a VW Polo or similar. When I arrived at the Hertz desk, I did not receive a VW Polo. I received similar. Meet the Hyundai i10.
As in my previous review, i’ll give things a 1-5 rating. 5 Being love it, 1 being hate it. Total out of 30. So let’s begin.
Model: 2018 Hyundai i10
Engine 1.0 Liter 3 Cylinder
Transmission: 5 Speed manual
I actually think this is a sharp little car. The fog lights in the front grill give it a sporty look, and it’s got enough little lines and curves to keep it interesting. It’s by no means a sexy car, nor as neat looking as some of the other cars we saw, but it could be worse.
Let’s be honest. This is a city car, built for city driving in smaller, slower areas. Driving on the motorway was excruciating. This thing needs a 6th gear. Sitting at 120 Kph and it’s turning 3500-4000 RPM, it was annoying. Trying to pass at higher speeds was a chore, and terrifying sometimes due to the lack of power. Despite that it got good economy, around 55MPG (I found the trip computer only after filling up the first time, so I didn’t hand calculate the entirety of the trip. The computer as well as the odometer were all in miles for us Yanks). In town, performance is great. Pulling out in first gear is no problem and when you need to make an aggressive exit, it’s got plenty of go for a tiny engine. It would be a 2/5 for performance, but I give it an extra point because it’s a manual, and fuck yea manuals. Also, shifting with my left hand wasn’t weird at all, and I got used to it after about 5 miles.
Safety Features: 1/5
It had airbags, and seatbelts. About all we could ask for. No backup camera, no extra nanny tech, nothing. It did have fog lights which was nice for a few foggy Irish mornings.
Convenience Features: 2/5
Definitely lacking a lot here. Had power windows and power locks, but no keyless entry, so I had to use the key every time to unlock it. No cruise control, no air conditioning.
The wiper stalk had a place for an intermediate slider to go, but this car had none:
Storage space was weak, with our carry-on bags barely fitting in the boot area, and rear legroom was hilariously bad. Here’s what it looks like with my seat in a comfy position. There was virtually no room back here. Needs to come with a hacksaw for the rear passengers.
What infotainment? No Bluetooth, no SXM (not that it would have been useful over here anyway) and the FM antenna was pretty weak, we had a lot of issues with radio reception in many places. We found very few FM Stations over there, and they all appeared to be Top 40 stations with Politics mixed in. I thought commercials were bad over here. Seems like every station was 20 minutes music, 40 minutes talk/commercials. It did have an Aux Port and USB Port, but it was my fault for not downloading tunes ahead of time and using it. I guess I was expecting a Polo, which has a much more robust infotainment system.
Driving Experience/Comfort: 4/5
Gotta say I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort level. The seats were comfy, and after 3 hours on the motorway, I wasn’t stiff nor were my legs cramping. Their was a perfect dead pedal next to the clutch, so my feet never got tired. Blasting around the tight roads was a riot. It handled great, turned nice and tight, and braking was excellent. I had multiple times where I met someone coming the other way on a 1.5 lane road and had no issues slowing down and even going into the ditch a few times to let them pass. Even on wet roads, it felt planted and never slipped.
Overall Score: 14/30 (F)
This seems pretty harsh given how much I actually really liked this car, but I have to be objective and rate it the same way I did the Pacifica 2 years ago. I would have preferred the Polo, as I’m a VW Fanboy, but for our trip and how many miles we spent in it (over 1000) I was very happy with this car. Having a tiny car on the tiny roads was the best situation we could have asked for. I saw plenty of people in much larger vehicles (Land Rovers, Rangers, Hilux, etc) and I would have felt a lot more stressed out in those. But this just felt natural, and the best way to see Ireland.
Would I buy one here in the states? Absolutely not! The tiny engine would no way keep up on our fast paced commutes, and the lack of safety features would make me nervous driving amongst all the brodozers that make up 90% of any midwestern city traffic. For example here is the i10 next to an F-250 Harley Davidson edition. They were from the Netherlands and said it was a bit of a chore driving it over here.
But for some people, a small city car like this makes absolute sense. If I didn’t have a long commute and lived near work, a city car might be a good idea. I’d probably go with something like a Fiesta, or if VW would be smart and bring the Up! over here.... But this just doesn’t have enough power for us Americans.
If you visit Ireland and are considering renting a car, don’t let the small cheap cars scare you or discourage you, they’re an absolute blast, and the best way to see a beautiful country.
Bonus car pictures
I found some neat things.