Hyundai i30: First report

Family hatch is the latest car to join our fleet. Can it make a good impression?

I’m no stranger to Hyundai dealerships, having been lucky enough to run a pair of first-generation i30s in the past. Those cars were practical, well equipped, attractively priced and backed by a lengthy five-year warranty, and proved to be solid and dependable family runarounds. So how will the all-new i30 compare?

Well, it’s certainly leagues ahead of its sober-suited predecessor in terms of style. Our Aqua Blue metallic i30 Active 1.6 CRDi looked a million dollars when I went to collect it from Hyundai London’s Edgware Road showroom. With its bold mix of curves and creases, the five-door hatch appears far more upmarket and grown-up than the original.

Inside, the designers have treated the i30 to an equally impressive makeover. From the eye-catching dashboard design to the classy chrome-ringed dials, the Hyundai is more than a match for more expensive European rivals like the VW Golf. And this impression is backed up by the solid build quality and extensive soft-touch plastics.

There’s bags of space, too, with more than enough rear head and legroom for our three teenage children, plus plenty of cabin storage. And the huge boot swallows 378 litres of luggage – 38 litres more than the previous i30.

Hyundai London salesman Paul Sharma was quick to point out the generous standard kit inside the i30 when he handed over the keys. Even our £17,995 mid-range Active has cruise control, rear parking sensors, air-conditioning and an iPod connection.

I was particularly impressed with the Bluetooth connection, which is one of the most intuitive I’ve ever used. Within minutes of climbing aboard, I was ready to make hands-free calls. The i30 also has voice recognition. Simply press a button on the steering wheel, then read out the number you want the system to call – it even repeats the number back to you before dialling.

One hi-tech addition I can take or leave is the Flex Steer system, which lets you choose between Sport, Normal and Comfort settings. You use it via a button on the wheel, and it adjusts the steering weight to suit your mood and the road conditions. But so far I’ve barely noticed any difference between the modes, and as a result I’ve just left it in Normal.

The rest of the driving experience is top notch, though. The 109bhp 1.6-litre diesel is smooth and responsive, the chassis feels planted in corners and refinement is superb. And while the ride could be softer, I can put up with this as the car is so cheap to run.

Our i30 has Hyundai’s Blue Drive tech, which includes stop-start. It keeps emissions down to just 97g/km – although we’re less impressed with the 33.9mpg economy so far. It’s less than half the 76mpg Hyundai claims, and we can only hope it improves over time.

Still, overall it’s an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the i30. We’ll have to see whether the showroom shine remains over the next year.

Our view

“The i30 comes with a host of fuel-saving kit, but the low-rolling-resistance Hankook tyres seem to lose grip a bit too easily. That’s not something you’d find in a VW Golf BlueMotion.”Dean Gibson, Production editor

Your view

“The Hyundai i30 offers by far the lowest tax and running costs in its class, plus the interior beats the Volkswagen Golf hands down for quality, style and standard equipment.”mpwox11, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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