Sharper styling, a roomier, better finished cabin and an excellent power-to-CO2 identify an improved Hyundai i30 that still falls short of the class best

What is it?

This second-generation Hyundai i30 appears just four years after the first, to go on sale here next spring. Designed, engineered and produced in Europe, it blends contemporary styling trends such as wheel-wrapping front wings, a trapezoidal grille and a wedged glasshouse with Hyundai's fluidic sculpture styling theme that's at its most obvious in the emphatic swage lines flaring out of the front doors before firing into the rear lamp clusters.

What's it like?

The result is a decidedly more distinctive Hyundai i30, and it gets a higher grade interior to go with it. The shapely new dash is stocked with a colour driver information system and a seven-inch screen infotainment option, plentiful splashes of plastiminium creating quite a habitable interior. It's a big improvement, if adrift of the Golf and Focus.

The cabin is roomier and provides a mass of storage, most of it lined to prevent clutter clattering, while back-benchers enjoy decent space and even get their own airvents. And seat cushions that lift to allow the backrests to fold completely flat are further signs of thoroughness.

There's mechanical progress too, Hyundai promising CO2 emissions of under 100 grams for this upgraded 128bhp engine, an output well ahead of the 105bhp or so that most sub-100gram competitors manage.

On the road the i30 feels quite brisk and fairly civilised. There's a bit of a torque vacuum below 1500rpm but it's rarely encountered and the engine pulls with some vigour to 3500rpm, after which its urge tails off somewhat.

But six smooth-selecting gears usually mask this and up front at least, the Hyundai makes a calm cruiser - those in the back are hit with more noise, however. Hyundai is pleased with its three-mode electric power steering, but normal and comfort are little different and while sport adds weight and stronger self-centring, none setting provides much tactile messaging. But, the multi-link rear end serves a tidily competent chassis and a ride only occasionally spoiled by what feels like over-zealous rebound damping.

Should I buy one?

This is substantially more appealing, more capable i30, promising particularly low running costs. As long as Hyundai continues to price it keenly, it should prove even more tempting than its predecessor.

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Premium

Price: £18,500 (est); Top speed: 122mph; 0-62mph: 10.9sec; Economy: TBA; Co2: under 100g/km; Kerbweight: TBA; Engine: 4-cyls in-line, 1582cc turbodiesel; Power: 126bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 192lb ft at 1900-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual

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jmccabe 27 March 2013

I've driven all 3 of these

I've driven all 3 of these recently. Generally the Focus dash is slightly plusher than the i30 (e.g. there is more padding under the covering of the dash compared to the i30), but there are some features, such as the stereo and the air vents that are, for want of a better word, garish and I can see the styling of them getting on your nerves after a while. The i30 is more subdued from that point of view but also has more storage in front of the gearstick. The boot of the i30 is bigger too and, for an equivalent model and price, there are far more standard features like cruise control, and some other stuff!

As for the Golf; I had one for two weeks last years as a hire car and, while the fuel consumption was great, the car had no character. The interior was functional but boring and, actually, quite uncomfortable. The steering wheel has some strange contouring that dug into my fingers, and the controls generally felt cheap and plasticky, just like every VW and Skoda I've ever been in. Coupled with the tiny boot, I've no idea why the Golf would be considered class-leading!

Overdrive 2 November 2011

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

michael knight wrote:

It does look good, even it's an Korean Astra.

Where I'm amazed is that it's pushing £20K for a none-too powerful diesel. I would have thought pricing it around £15K would be more on the money.

How long before the £30K family hatch? At this rate I'll never be able to buy a new car in this country. Pretty unbelievable really.

x 2.

20 grand does sound rather a lot for a 1.6 litre Hyundai hatch, even in this day and age.

VX220EDDIE 2 November 2011

Re: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

michael knight wrote:
Where I'm amazed is that it's pushing £20K for a none-too powerful diesel. I would have thought pricing it around £15K would be more on the money.

Even at 15k i would not be paying that kind of money. i do think its a fine looking car but it will be worth buttons in a few years.