The reaction of my parents spoke volumes about the progress Hyundai has made with its little i10.

With my father in the front passenger seat and my mother safely in the back I asked them if they knew what car they were travelling in.

The fact that they didn’t is all the more surprising as they have owned an i10 for almost eight years. But then the refreshed version of the second-generation i10 is a world apart from the cheap and cheerful original.

By one of those happy coincidences the first i10 appeared at precisely the right time, with the financial crisis, Government incentives and a growing trend to downsize combining to help make the little runabout a huge hit.

A decade on and Hyundai clearly needed to up its game with other manufacturers pitching into the competitive small car market with a range of well-built, refined and stylish city cars.

Hyundai reacted by delivering an upmarket contender with a compelling blend of space, comfort and refinement.

The i10’s real telling selling point though remains its value for money, combined with an impressive five-year warranty.

Light controls, good visibility and its neat proportions make it effortless to zip around the city and even easier to park.

But while it is in its element on urban roads it is surprisingly capable on longer journeys. I took it on a 200-mile day trip and it felt totally composed and settled, with wind and engine noise well in check when travelling at motorway speeds.

The cabin has space for four adults and though the boot space is small, carrying capacity is quickly increased by the 60:40 split rear seats and all four doors can hold a large-capacity bottle.

Engine choice is a simple decision between a 1.0-litre and a 1.2-litre petrol that both come as standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic gearbox is an option with the 1.2-litre engine.

The car driven here was powered by the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine that develops 67 horsepower. The 1.2-litre engine is a four-cylinder unit developing 87 horsepower and both come with a digital gearshift indicator to give a gentle reminder about when to change gear.

Exterior styling is sportier than its predecessor, with the Premium test car sporting LED daytime running lights and a set of 14-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, technology has taken a step up with the dashboard dominated by a seven-inch touchscreen display, linked to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allow integration and operation of smartphones.

The test car also came equipped with climate control as standard. Options include heated front seats and even a heated steering wheel.

The i10 also has the option of a driver assist pack including a front collision warning system and a lane departure warning system.

Active safety is well looked after, with all models fitted with an anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard.

As for reliability, if everyone’s experience of the i10 is as happy as my parents there should be plenty of satisfied customers. In almost eight years’ motoring they haven’t had a peep of trouble.

Auto facts

Model: Hyundai i10 Premium 1.0

Price: £12,775

Insurance group: Three (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 55.4mpg

Top speed: 97mph

Length: 366.5cm/144in

Width: 166cm/65.1in

Luggage capacity: 7.7 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 8.8 gallons/40 litres

CO2 emissions: 108g/km

Warranty: Five years/ unlimited mileage