The Hyundai i30 kicked off the 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 improvement it represented for Hyundai and the car earned four-star road test recognition from this magazine.
Predecessors such as the Accent, Excel and Pony were earlier attempts at C-segment hatchbacks, but all were light years behind the original i30 on the evolutionary scale. Last time we road tested an i30, we approached it with understandable cynicism. It was 2007, pre-scrappage and Hyundai had made the common Pacific Rim mistake of promising a model that was the equal of its European rivals. Predictable disappointment was forecast.
But we were wrong. The original i30, as it turned out, 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.
Consequently, we approach the all-new i30 with completely different expectations. The firm has shown that its tick-box approach to development is capable of producing some genuine class contenders. But can it now muster the necessary qualities to build an original family hatchback worthy of challenging for the lead of the class which, as far as much of the car-buying public is concerned, sets the industry’s curve? We’ll see.