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.

There are four engines to choose from in the i30, and four trim levels: Classic, Active, Style and Style Nav (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 89bhp 1.4 CRDi and the 109bhp 1.6 CRDi

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.

How good is it alongside the likes of the Focus and Golf? Let's find out.

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