Hyundai is on a roll, and the latest evidence of that is the new i30. Now in its third generation, the mid-sized family hatchback is now stylish, well packaged and good to drive.
In fact, it’s so improved that it’s able to brush shoulders with the best cars in its sector, which is no mean feat when you consider that its rivals include the VW Golf, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Kia Cee’d.
Sporting Hyundai’s deep new signature “Cascading Grille” at the end of a long nose, sleek lines and rear spoiler, the i30 definitely looks more athletic. Boasting a drag coefficient of just 0.30, it’s not a million miles away from the Fiat Tipo in profile.
It’s a similar story inside where the combination of clean design, tech and build quality give the cabin a classier feel.
Depending on the trim level chosen (there are five ranging from S, SE and SE Nav, to Premium and Premium SE), the centre console is dominated by a superb 8-inch “floating” touchscreen which houses the audio, sat nav, rear-view camera and excellent connectivity.
The rest of the dashboard layout is attractive in an unfussy, intuitive sort of way, while the soft-touch plastics add to the general quality feel.
The seats and driving position are comfortable and there’s plenty of room up front and at the back, meaning that transporting five full-size adults is realistic.
The boot is also a decent a 395 litres, or 1,301 with the 60/40 rear seats folded, plus there are plenty of storage spaces dotted around the cabin and there’s a handy “ski hatch” built into the back seats for loading longer items.
Priced from £16,995, the i30 range comes with a choice of three engines – two petrols and a diesel.
My test car in Premium trim came with the willing new 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine which hits 62mph in 8.9 seconds, goes on to 130mph, while emitting 124g/km of CO2 and returning up to 52.3mpg.
There’s also a punchy 118bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo which is slightly slower to 62mph (11.8 seconds), though it can return 56.5mpg and emits 115g/km of CO2.
The 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine is capable of 74.3mpg, emitting just 99g/km of CO2.
The two larger engines are mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (automatic), though the 1.0-litre is only available with the manual gearbox. I only tried the manual which was fine, though not in the same league of slickness as say a Mazda.
If you’re looking for a hot hatch, then the standard i30 is not for you, or you’ll have to wait for the upcoming sporty version of the car – the first available from Hyundai’s new ‘N’ performance sub-brand.
The i30 may also disappoint buyers that like to personalise their cars with funky colours and trim. It’s a black and grey affair inside, while the exterior colour options are on the conservative side.
That said, the 1.4-litre T-GDi especially is no slouch, while it feels poised on the road and the handling is much improved with little body roll. The level of engine refinement is particularly impressive.
The steering is light, the ride is comfortable and it cruises well, though there is noticeable road noise at higher speeds.
The i30 is exceptionally well equipped, with safety essentials such as AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), Lane Departure Warning and ESC (Electronic Stability Control) standard across the range.
However, we’d suggest stretching to SE Nav, Premium or Premium SE so that you get the 8-inch touchscreen and other goodies such as blind spot detection and wireless phone charging.
Verdict: The new Hyundai i30 is an impressive package, well able to hold its own in a highly competitive sector. Refined, well equipped, safe and good to drive, it’s a solid choice, sweetened further thanks to Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty, which includes roadside assistance.