What is it?
Hyundai’s acclaimed i30 hatchback gets the range-topping (for now, at least) 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. That means there’s 138bhp from the single overhead cam 1991cc four-pot under the bonnet, and more importantly still, 224lb ft of torque from 1,900rpm through to 2,500rpm. Along with a six-speed gearbox, that should give the i30 plenty of real-world pace on the road.
Other than that, the rest is an i30 as we’ve come to know it. Which means sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, a well-made cabin and smart but hardly daring styling.
What’s it like?
Very competent – and crucially, not too worthy either. The i30 has already proved itself in the Autocar road test to be beyond merely average; a car that you’d actually want to own rather than merely an object to get from A to B with.
The new engine fires up without much diesel clatter or vibration and settles to a refined idle. Thanks to common rail fuel injection and the latest variable geometry turbocharger there’s little lag when you press the throttle pedal and then a substantial wad of torque to propel you forwards.
Naturally, at higher revs the acceleration subsides, but the engine never gets especially raucous. The six-speed gearbox has a pleasingly light but snappy shift so keeping within the torque band is hardly a chore.
The 2.0-litre version of the i30 weighs a not-unsubstantial 150kg more than the 1.6-litre petrol version but still exhibits a fine blend of ride and handling. The steering is light but accurate, without much of the falseness around the straight-ahead that blights many modern power racks. As with the petrol variants, the suspension has been set on the soft side without compromising on body control, so the i30 rides nicely and yet is fun to pilot down a good road.
Inside the i30 features quality plastics and smart design, although we wish the drivers’ seat could be lowered more into the car. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of room in here, with good rear space in particular for the class, courtesy of a noticeably long wheelbase.
Should I buy one?
If you can abide the idea of driving a Hyundai, absolutely. This is a rewarding car to drive and spend time in, at a price that undercuts the main rivals of a similar standard. At £14,995 for this Style model (£16,595 for the top of the range Premium), which includes items such as 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, a tyre pressure warning system and a proper iPod connector, it’s very good value for money.
And with a combined fuel consumption figure of 51.4mpg, a CO2 figure of 145g/km (a Focus is 148g/km) and a full five-year warranty, the i30 is a sensible choice too. Fun and sensible; the Korean car manufacturers really have come a long way.