Mark Tisshaw
13 February 2012

What is it?

Over the past few years, reviews of new Hyundais have followed a very similar formula. One handsomely styled, dynamically competent and still well equipped and reasonably priced new model will come along to replace its fairly lacklustre predecessor notable only for its price – so think i10 for Atos, i30 for Accent or ix35 for Tucson. Good reviews duly follow.

But there’s quite a bit more at stake for Hyundai with this new i30, for it’s the first time it’s replacing one of its ‘new generation’ of cars with another all-new car.

That means Hyundai’s best-seller will not only be compared with its competent predecessor, but also increasingly strong competition in the family hatchback segment. In the four years since the outgoing i30 launched, it’s not like the class-leading VW Golf and Ford Focus have stood still.

The i30 goes on sale in the UK next month priced from a very keen £14,495 for the entry-level model. Here we test the most potent 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel model. The engine starts from £19,295, but we’re trying it out in range-topping Style Nav trim, which at £20,295 puts it firmly into Golf territory.

What’s it like?

No longer is the i30 an option merely for those with at least one eye on the pennies. Almost every aspect of the outgoing car has been improved and Hyundai has ended up with a five-door family hatchback that really can be fairly high up the list of considerations for a buyer in one of the most hotly contested market segments.

For a start it looks much more distinctive. Sure, it won’t be to all tastes, but it can no longer be mistaken for white goods. It’s a theme that continues in the spacious interior; cabin design and quality is up there with a Focus, although admittedly we were only able to experience the luxuriously appointed Style Nav model.

The 126bhp, 192lb ft diesel is impressively frugal for an oil-burner of its power. Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, CO2 emissions are just 100g/km and combined economy is rated 74.3mpg.

Keep the engine spinning in the peak torque band of 1900-2750rpm and it’s a fairly brisk unit. Power can rapidly drop off below this and it runs out of puff towards the 4000rpm mark, but learn to master the six slick ratios yourself, ignoring the generally misleading advice of the gear shift indicator, and progress can be swift.

The i30 rides and handles with a great deal of competence, too. Keep the i30 within its comfort zone (ie motorway jaunts and general urban pottering) as most owners will, then it’s a very gentle, softly softly kind of car. The ride is settled, and bumps absorbed far beyond an acceptable level on even the most broken of surfaces.

It’s a shame the steering and body control when cornering at low-mid speeds are not up to as much as the rest of the car. Hyundai offers the new i30 with its new ‘Flex Steer’ system, which offers three different modes for the electric steering: comfort, normal and sport. Don’t bother with comfort; it’s devoid of any feel. Sport just feels too artificially weighted and doesn’t really solve the problem of precision. Best stick with normal mode, the lesser of three evils.

Should I buy one?

There was a video that did the rounds after the i30’s reveal at the Frankfurt motor show of VW boss Martin Winterkorn checking out the car on Hyundai’s show stand. Winterkorn was suitably impressed by Hyundai achieving with the i30 little things that you’d expect to have already been achieved on the Golf but haven’t, including not being able to see the wiper blades from the inside and the steering column not making a noise when you move it.

“We can’t do it, why can they?” says a puzzled Winterkorn to his entourage. When Winterkorn starts comparing his mighty Golf to the i30 in such minute detail, it reveals just how far Hyundai has come. He automatically expects Hyundai’s new offering to be stylish, well equipped and of a high quality, so to him it’s the small details that start to make the biggest differences.

While the i30 may no longer be as cheap as it was once you start heading towards the desirable engine choices, the fact that the generous standard equipment levels and five-year unlimited mile warranty remain makes for a compelling proposition.

If it could just be a bit sharper to drive Hyundai’s appeal may well begin to extend into the enthusiast end of the market, as well as the value and mainstream buyers this car will surely impact on.

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive Style Nav

Price: £20,295; Top speed: 117mph; 0-62mph: 10.9sec; Economy: 74.3mpg; CO2: 100g/km; Kerb weight: 1386kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1582cc, turbodiesel; Power: 126bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 192lb ft at 1900-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
37

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
Keep the engine spinning in the peak torque band of 1900-2750rpm and it’s a fairly brisk unit. Power can rapidly drop off below this and it runs out of puff towards the 4000rpm mark, but learn to master the six slick ratios yourself, ignoring the generally misleading advice of the gear shift indicator, and progress can be swift.

This reads to me - "underpowered". 126bhp only, really? I know I keep on about this but they really could do with a unit with more grunt.

Other than that this looks to be a very competent and competitive car that lacks the last little bit of polish to make it desirable (well as desirable as you get in this class of car).

I am surprised they haven't done more in respects of ride and handling but then they feel they've hit a successful formula that generates sales, why bother?

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

It looks like a decent engine, but despite being a high spec version, over £20k just seems incredibly steep for a Korean car in this segment.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

TegTypeR wrote:
This reads to me - "underpowered". 126bhp only, really? I know I keep on about this but they really could do with a unit with more grunt.

Underpowered really? It appears that only the new 130bhp Renault/Nissan 1.6 diesel is more powerful. Besides that I find it an oddly looking car. It is not attractive nor ugly, it just tries so hard to be good looking that the end result is not successful.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

Fidji wrote:
over £20k just seems incredibly steep for a Korean car in this segment.

I agree, but then Hyundais are no the longer bargain basement cars they once were. As most of their cars are now decent and are as good as, if not better than, some rivals Hyundai appears to be charging more for the privilege, but many buyers will simply look at the badge and say I'm not paying that for a Hyundai.

But the other side of the story is that the i30 will still be cheaper than many rivals. A top spec Focus hatch now costs over £23k.

Another thing is that that Hyundai, and Kia, are able to make very good and competitive cars. Something which many Japanese marques seem to be struggling to do at the moment.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

The waist line, as is the norm today, seems very high on the rear doors. I wonder if small people will be able to see out? :(

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

I think it looks great, compare it to a 130/140 bhp golf, focus, civic etc al and the price makes sense I think, especially given the trim level. I find the performance puzzling. 130bhp and it can't weigh any note than my current civic, only 10bhp less yet about 3 seconds slower to 60, can only assume its a gearing thing again or maybe a smaller capacity diesel with bigger turbo is starting to hot its limits here.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

Looks like a facelifted Mazda 3 to me. But that's probably a good thing.

And it does seem expensive: not compared to list prices since no-one in their right mind would pay those. Compare to the price from a broker who will sell you a brand new 20,000 Focus diesel for 15,000.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

Isn't it funny how manufacturers make you want things that you've never thought of before. After reading this article I've begun to realise how awful it is being able to see my windscreen wipers from the inside.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

Big S wrote:
And it does seem expensive: not compared to list prices since no-one in their right mind would pay those. Compare to the price from a broker who will sell you a brand new 20,000 Focus diesel for 15,000.

You state that this Hyundai is expensive because nobody pays list prices and then go on that a £20k Focus can be bought for £15k. Surely the same applies to Hyundai's as Fords through brokers?

For example a current model Hyundai i30 1.6 diesel is currently offered on the "Honest John" website through a broker for £10.5k.

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

2 years 37 weeks ago

I assume that all of the cabin's aluminium-look trim is in fact silver-painted plastic? Wish manufacturers would stop blighting their cabins with this tat, asap.

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