The Hyundai i30 kicked off the Korean brand’s big European push, and it became the first car produced at the firm’s European factory at Nosovice, Czech Republic, in November 2008.
Critics recognised the big improvement it represented for Hyundai. It was a fine car. It was affordable, convincing and utterly credible. Prophetically, we said it was a wake-up call to Europe’s slumbering mainstream, and we weren’t wrong about that.
Global recession may have given Hyundai a leg-up, but the Koreans have since produced a product range of consistent and remarkable quality. The second generation model which we are looking at here first went into production in 2011 and was facelifted lifted in 2015, which saw a brand new grille fitted and a more purposeful and aggressive looking hatchback entering the market. For 2017, Hyundai unveiled its third generation i30 at the Paris Motorshow, with the main headlines being that the all-new hatchback will spawn a family of new models, and be headed up by a high performance N-version of the i30.
There are five engines to choose from in the i30, and five trim levels: S, SE, SE Nav, Premium and Turbo (although not every powerplant is available at every spec level).
Two four-cylinder petrol units prop up the range – a 98bhp 1.4-litre and a 118bhp 1.6 mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic – but Hyundai’s UK output will be focused on the 108bhp and the 134bhp 1.6 CRDi engines. For those after a bit more oomph, or even a three-door hatchback, there is the Turbo models which sees the 1.6-litre petrol given a turbocharger to produce a heady 184bhp, putting right in warm hatch territory.
Hyundai has shown that it can now muster the necessary qualities to build an original, highly capable family hatchback - one that's worthy of challenging for the lead of the class, and all wrapped up in a very competitive package.