Our Cars: Hyundai i10 Blue

18 August 2011: Air con-undrum

The Details

Average fuel economy 59mpg

All of the trim levels in the i10 range come with air conditioning as standard, which is fantastic. Once you’ve owned a car with air-con it’s really difficult to go back to a car without, it makes summer driving bearable, even in the most extreme heat.

It does reduce fuel consumption yes, but only by a few mpg. On my last long commute I used the air-con sporadically whenever it got particularly hot, turning it off when it wasn’t needed and still achieved just under 60mpg.

There are a couple of niggling annoyances that I’ve started to notice with the air-con system lately though – first of all there is a green indicator light in the button. It lets you know whether or not the system is active, but you can only see it at night because it’s quite dim. It’s not much use when there’s no sun and no need for air-con.

More importantly though, there is a noticeable drop in performance when the air-con compressor kicks in. On larger, more powerful cars that drop still exists; air con compressors do sap a little power from the engine, which is why fuel consumption increases when the system is turned on.

The problem comes when there isn’t much power in the first place, as is the case with the i10. In town it makes very little difference, but out on the A-roads and motorways that little drop in performance means that sometimes you have to turn the system off when accelerating to overtake or when joining the carriageway from a slip-road.

It’s a little frustrating at the very least. In and around town, the environment which the i10 was designed for, there’s no real problem at all, it’s only noticeable when you’re on a fast road. It’s not dangerous, by any stretch, but it’s best to be aware of it.

That said, keeping on top of the air con is probably a sensible thing to do anyway – turning it on when it’s needed and off when it’s not rather than leaving it on all of the time is a good way to improve your fuel economy by a few mpg.

Besides the double edged sword of an air con system the i10 has been perfectly admirable of late. The easy to fold rear seats are a joy to use and make the load space large enough for plenty of boxes and bits and pieces, and with careful driving the fuel bills are tiny.

With an auxiliary inout and USB-in as standard, listening to your own music is easy, but lately I’ve been listening to the radio more often and I’ve found that tuning to new stations and saving them to memory is about as simple as it could possibly be. Reception is generally very good, too.

Summer is almost at an end, too, and the heater doesn’t slow anyone down...

« Earlier: Accessorize!     Later: Practicality in finer detail »

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18 August 2011: Air con-undrum
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