HYUNDAI HAS DONE HOMEWORK WITH i30
IF, in buying a Focus-sized family hatchback, you want to buy a very good one and pay as little as possible for it, then Hyundai has a proposition for you – its second generation i30. Smart, frugal, spacious and value-laden, this is one car that all the other big volume manufacturers are keeping their eye on.
No other car in this class is better at soothing away tarmac imperfections. All but entry-level variants get what's called a "Flex Steer" system, with a button on the wheel that enables you to switch between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes. Given that Comfort is rather light and Sport artificially heavy, you end up leaving it in Normal all the time, which rather defeats the point.
No complaints about the engine line-up on offer though, an area in which Hyundai has clearly done its homework on what appeals to European customers. There are no pointlessly powerful petrol engines or super-pricey hybrids. Just a sensible 100ps entry-level petrol 1.4 for youngsters and budget buyers. We'd choose the 110ps model, offering the best blend of speed and economy.
The i30's design has its own appeal too thanks to a further development of Hyundai's now quite familiar "fluidic sculpture" styling theme that's most obvious in the emphatic swage lines that flare out of the front door before sweeping down into the rear light clusters. The Tourer estate looks good too. Inside, equal effort has been made and there's just as great a change for the better. The cabin might not quite have the build solidity of a Golf or the flair of a Focus but it's a more interesting place to be than either of those, only the shiny stalks betraying Hyundai's budget brand origins.
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As for cabin space, there's significantly more leg and shoulder room than before in the front, while seismic gains are less noticeable in the back.
The rather pokey boot of the old i30 has been enlarged, now 38-litres bigger at 378-litres.
The i30 is very well equipped. Even entry-level variants get LED daytime running lights, front foglamps, air conditioning, Bluetooth compatibility for your mobile, and a decent quality MP3-compatible CD stereo among others.
What we have here is enough to leave the industry's more established car makers with furrowed brows.