The impulse that drives other car makers to futilely pursue a ‘premium’ aesthetic has seemingly never afflicted Hyundai. While it doesn’t duplicate Volkswagen’s class or Ford’s flair, there are no inconsistent finishes or faddish touches in the i30, intended to convince the occupants that they are seated in luxurious surroundings. Instead, the interior oozes the long-lasting practicality of a well made windcheater.
Clean-cut lines are backed by simple symmetry and neatly chosen fragments of metallic finish. The floating spines framing the centre console give the dashboard tone and definition, and draw the eye to a concise cliff face of logical buttons. The same trick is repeated on the steering wheel, and even the cupholders. In S trim, just the steering wheel and gearknob are treated to leather, but the soft-touch dash cladding has just the right mix of resilience and squish.
The ergonomics are decent, too, although we were disappointed to find ourselves having to reach forward to twiddle the stereo’s volume dial. Bluetooth and voice recognition come as standard, even on sub-£15k-spec models. We’ve had iPhone compatibility issues with Hyundai systems in the past, but our test vehicle worked well — although voice recognition is of limited use if you haven’t opted for the top spec Style Nav trim, which comes with a touchscreen sat-nav system and rear parking camera.
The standard audio system is more than adequate. It’s compatible with MP3 CDs, has aux-in and USB jacks, and integrates well with an iPod. But if it wants to be considered a semi-premium brand, Hyundai should offer an upgrade with DAB radio.