In the past, three-door versions of popular hatchbacks were little more than five-door clones with limited rear access. However, Hyundai has taken things further with its new three-door i30, and we’ve now had the opportunity to drive it here in the UK for the first time.
The three-door model looks noticeably different. It’s instantly more sporty, better proportioned and has a face that’s far more attractive than the chromed front on the five-door on our fleet.
This Sport Nav model also gets LED tail-lights and tinted rear windows to make it really stand out. As there’s no three-door Ford Focus and the three-door Volkswagen Golf looks a bit bland, the i30 has a shot at being the most stylish in its class – only the Vauxhall Astra GTC presents real competition.
However, where the GTC has significant suspension changes to help improve its handling, the i30 three-door remains the same as its bigger brother. Whether or not that’s a bad thing really depends on what you’re expecting. Instead of being sporty and fun, the i30 three-door is comfortable, with the steering a little too slow and lifeless to be seriously engaging.
Our test car has the more powerful 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel – rather than the 109bhp engine – but it doesn’t feel particularly fast. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.9 seconds, and unlike some more powerful diesels there’s no mid-range kick of torque to liven things up.
On the plus side, running costs are good, with official fuel economy of 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 108g/km. The i30 is relatively spacious, too, with a boot that can hold 378 litres of luggage and plenty of legroom in the rear – although headroom is a little limited.
At £19,990, the i30 Sport Nav three-door is expensive, but it’s still very good value. The less powerful Golf three-door 1.6 TDI is £19,845, although by the time you add sat-nav, parking sensors, climate control, tinted windows and larger alloys (all standard on the i30), it’ll cost over £22,000.