The new Hyundai i30 is the manufacturer's most serious attempt yet to tempt buyers away from the VW Golf and Ford Focus. It goes on sale in the UK next April, so we took a test drive to see if it has the beating of those class leaders.
The new model is longer, wider, lower and better-looking than the old i30, with a much more upmarket shape.
Inside, there has also been a quantum leap. Gone are the angular, harsh plastics of old and in come soft-touch surfaces, high-quality leathers and a curvier design from the Mondeo-sized i40.
The simple, two-dial instrument binnacle looks good, while in the centre of the facia, a large console houses a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav, along with the heater, air-con and radio controls.
The i30 also has equipment to rival the best in the class, with Bluetooth, cruise control, heated seats, LED running and cornering lamps, plus a steering system with selectable weighting, xenon lights and a reversing camera.
Hyundai expects a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, as the car has six airbags, plus electronic safety systems such as ESP and vehicle stability management as standard. Plus, the cabin is more spacious than before, with more rear legroom. The boot is 10 per cent larger, too, offering a 378-litre capacity with the back seats in place.
We drove the 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel in eco-friendly Blue spec, which includes stop-start and low-resistance tyres. It’s refined, and the 260Nm of torque arrives at 3,000rpm, allowing the car to waft along, even in sixth gear.
Gearchanges are positive and a wide powerband means you can short shift up and maintain brisk progress. What’s more, this version should emit less than 99g/km, so road tax will be free.
The ride is comfortable and should suit potholed UK roads, although there’s some noise from the front suspension over bumps. The body rolls in hard cornering, but this is well controlled and the stability electronics are subtle as they stop slides. Even the steering – often a letdown on Hyundais – feels sharp and well weighted.
With the five-year Triple Care unlimited mileage warranty, maintenance and roadside assistance package, the new i30 is an attractive proposition. It’s good enough to be considered alongside the class best.