Hyundai i30 UK drive

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Hyundai i30 UK drive front tracking

Our verdict on the new, high-quality Hyundai i30 hatchback – can it compete with the Focus?

Verdict

4

The i30 can compete with the best on space, style, quality and value. Low emissions and high mpg from the diesel both impress, even if performance is a little flat. Comfort is prioritised over handling, but the i30 is an interesting and tempting alternative to a Focus or a Golf. Hyundai is taking a more daring approach with the new i30 – whereas the current car is dull, but worthy, the new model remains worthy, but with a great deal more pizzazz.

From the fancy LED driving lights, through some striking and pronounced curves around the front wheelarches and down the flanks, to a pert and attractive rear end, the look is smart and very European. Which is spot on for a car that’s built in Europe – the Czech Republic to be precise.

It’s a similarly stylish story inside, where high-quality, soft-touch plastics adorn an attractive cabin that’s a lot like Hyundai’s bigger Mondeo-rivalling i40.

And there’s much to like – the layout is clear and the driving position is good, but the view over your shoulder is challenged by the narrowing window line, a victim of those curvy lines.

It’s a good job the top two trim levels (Style and Premium) will have a standard reversing camera, with the pictures displayed on the standard sat-nav system.

In fact, standard is a word you tend to use a lot when talking about Hyundais – leather and a glass roof were also on the Premium car we drove. Even entry-level Classic and level two Active will come generously kitted out for the cash.

The range will kick off at around £14,000 when the i30 goes on sale in March, starting with a 1.4 petrol. There’s also a 1.6 petrol plus two 1.6 diesels – we drove the more powerful 128bhp diesel rather than the 110bhp version, but they share excellent economy and CO2 figures of 76mpg and 97g/km, so are exempt from road tax.

The diesel impresses with its refinement on the move and the smoothness of its power delivery, but there’s not too much of it – it’s not especially punchy. Nor is the car a great handler, with quite a bit of body roll and steering that turns the car well enough, but fails to provide much feel of the road.

This isn’t a sports car, though, and for most people the handling and steering will be just fine. They’ll be more interested by a ride that just edges on to the firm side of comfortable.
What everyone will enjoy is the amount of space – the i30 has room for five and one of the biggest boots in the class.

Key specs

* Price: £14,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 128bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-60mph: 10.9 seconds
* Top speed: 122mph
* Economy: 76mpg
* CO2: 97g/km
* Equipment: Bluetooth, cruise control, heated seats, reversing camera, xenon lights 
* On sale: March

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