Hyundai i30

28 Oct, 2011 8:00am Andrew English

We drive a prototype version of the new Hyundai i30 ahead of its launch next year


After the launch of the i40, the new Ford Focus-sized i30 should leave no one in doubt about Hyundai’s intentions as far as UK sales are concerned. This is an excellent all-round compact family car. Plus, with a level of equipment to match the class’s best non-premium models, as well as outstanding fuel economy and improved ride and handling, the i30 should make a lot of new friends for the brand.
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.

Key specs

* Price: From £14,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
* Power/torque: 128bhp/260Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
* Top speed: 122mph
* Economy/CO2: 75mpg/99g/km (est)
* Equipment: Bluetooth, cruise control, heated seats, LED running and cornering lamps, switchable steering weight programme, xenon lights, reversing camera
* On sale: April 2011