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.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
I was delighted to find a standard-fit partition net in the boot. It stows neatly when you don’t want it and would stop cargo slipping forwards when needed

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.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Underneath, it is very much like its predecessor. Although marginally larger, the i30 essentially has the same architecture – albeit in a notably lightened, stiffened format.

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.

This 1.4 is important because it finally provides the i30 with a forced-induction, petrol-burning engine that promises a very European compromise of power and parsimoniousness.

Better still, despite the additional single-scroll turbocharger, Hyundai insists that the four-pot is 14kg lighter than the venerable naturally aspirated Gamma unit it replaces.

We drove it with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, although a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available as an option.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week