It’s not every day we get to welcome an award winner to the Auto Express car park, but this week we’ve done exactly that.

The Hyundai i10 was crowned 2014 Car of the Year by our sister site, and now it’s time to see if it can cut it as a hard-working addition to our fleet.

Over the next six months, the i10 will be subjected to the most thorough of tests in congested central London.

It’s the perfect environment for a car which has won plaudits for a grown-up driving experience that helps it deal with the rough and tumble of urban life.

Better still, Hyundai has gone more upmarket with its city car, improving the quality of the materials and giving it a handsome new look that’s a world away from its upright and restrained predecessor. However, key to the i10’s appeal has always been value for money, and Hyundai has stuck to this ethos with the second generation. Our car comes in mid-range SE spec, while we’ve gone with the smaller engine that’s offered, a 65bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol.

This model comes in at £9,610, but there’s plenty of equipment fitted as standard. All-round electric windows, remote central locking, heated electric door mirrors, USB connectivity and cruise control with a speed limiter are all included.

Sat-nav isn’t on the options list for the i10, but when sales executive Shan Islam of Hyundai North London handed us the keys to our car, he informed us that if we wanted it, we could add it as a dealer-fit option for a reasonable £700.

The amount of standard kit and the quality of the fit and finish are excellent considering its price, giving the i10 a big advantage in the increasingly competitive city car class.

Another strong point for the little Hyundai is its practicality. Behind the rear seats is the largest boot in the city car class, at 252 litres, while one of its trump cards is that it offers seating for five passengers. For a car of such small proportions, being able to fit three adults in the back is an impressive feat.

Not only is the i10 cheap to buy, we’ve already seen how inexpensive it is to run. Admittedly, emissions of 108g/km aren’t as low as in some of its rivals, but £20 annual road tax is hardly going to break the bank. Add to that claimed economy of 60.1mpg from the 1.0-litre engine and a group one insurance rating, and you won’t need deep pockets to keep it on the road.

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing if I can get anywhere close to that fuel economy figure in regular day-to-day use. An early return of 43mpg is a reasonably encouraging start.

Since I’ve been handed the keys, the i10’s composure and big-car feel on the road have been immediately obvious. Even on the heavily rutted roads of London, the Hyundai shakes off bumps like a car from the class above.

So far, so good then, but there’s more in store for the i10. In the coming months I’ll be keen to see how the little Hyundai copes with longer journeys, and even high-speed motorway trips.

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