What is it?
It’s the first Hyundai i30 Estate in the UK, a right-hook 1.6-litre CRDi Style with less than 200 miles on the clock. And we were the first journos to drive it.
Making a good small wagon these days takes more than a bit of extra glass and a cargo net. The new Hyundai i30 Estate proves that. On the outside, every panel from the B-pillar backwards is new, and that’s because the car’s got a longer wheelbase than the standard hatchback as well as a longer rear overhang.
It’s also got a bigger rear cabin than the five-door, and a bigger boot. A six foot passenger can comfortably sit behind a similar sized driver in this i30, without so much as brushing his knees against the seat back in front, and rear headroom is as good as that of a car from the class above.
There’s 415 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, but with them folded this car will accommodate 1395-litres of stuff; which is more than the last BMW 3-series Touring, in case you were wondering.
What’s it like?
The i30 Estate’s engine range is a little narrower than that of the standard hatchback. We drove the 113bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel. It was refined, frugal, and yet punchy enough to shift the car’s heft without being worked overly hard. Matched to a set of spring and dampers tuned more for comfort than out-and-out road-holding, it makes this car feel like a very willing, capable, grown-up means of family transport.
It’s no less manoeuvrable for the extra length between the front and rear wheels (the top-spec Premium version comes with parking sensors for those worried about the extra bulk out back). If anything, it feels a little more stable and refined than the standard hatch, but hardly less agile.
And though both steering wheel and pedals feel a bit woollier and less precise than they would in a Ford Focus wagon or VW Golf, you can’t fault Hyundai’s levels of material quality or fit-and-finish.
Should I buy one?
Yes, for all sorts of reasons, but the best of them is price. A similarly-engined Ford Focus Estate costs more than £17,000; this car, with its automatic headlights, tyre pressure monitors, leather steering wheel – and five year warranty – is just £14,695.
That’s even better value when you consider that it buys a car that’s as roomy, refined, comfortable, punchy, well-built and easy-to-live-with as anything made by the mainstream volume car-makers.
Hyundai’s challenge has never been greater to those established European car-makers. The standard i30 extended that challenge; this more versatile version of the breed underlines it. And pretty soon, nobody – not even the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – will be able to ignore it.