Schreyer’s influence over Hyundai’s design language has been well earned.
The foundation of the success of sister brand Kia is partly built on the sophisticated, clean-cut look that the German design chief is justly famous for delivering.
However, the i30 finds him in a relatively conservative mood. Despite the firm touting design as the “number one buying reason” among European customers, the car – in both Tourer and hatchback format – is a thoroughly conventional-looking C-segment prospect.
Its most notable feature is the new ‘cascading grille’, a tapering affair apparently inspired by the flow of molten steel and destined to become a hallmark across the line-up, but even this is a rather conformist affair and makes the i30 no more likeable or distinctive than a regiment of similarly modern-looking mainstream rivals.
Arguably, of course, there is no overriding need to stand out from the crowd (overly quirky family hatchbacks have a history of falling flat with buyers) and most repeat customers will likely settle for the idea that the model is marginally more appealing than the car it replaces.
The car’s gain, particularly as far as torsional rigidity is concerned, is a direct consequence of a doubling of the proportion of high-strength steel used in its construction. The lower-riding chassis – still a conglomerate of front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link – has inevitably been retuned for the enhanced setting, with Hyundai claiming a 10 percent improvement in steering response.
The new engine line-up is considerably more sturdy, too. The previous generation, certainly by the end of its lifecycle, was handicapped by a number of powerplants well past their sell-by date.
Only the 109bhp 1.6-litre CRDi diesel four-pot makes the transition and, in line with the rest of the segment’s revised attitude to oil-burners, expect that unit to be soft-pedalled in retail terms.
Instead, the real choice is between the three-cylinder 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi motor, which has made its debut elsewhere, and the new four-cylinder 138bhp 1.4-litre T-GDi engine of our test car.