What is it?
The Hyundai i30. Hardly an evo Car of the Year contender, but the exponential rise in Korean car quality over the last decade means Hyundai’s mid-sized hatchback is now a very plausible Ford Focus rival. We’ve tested a £19,295 i30 1.6 CRDi Style.
The 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine sends 126bhp and 192lb ft to the front wheels, yielding a 10.9sec amble to 62mph. This is adequate, though, when you consider (with the help of stop/start tech) the i30’s 100g/km CO2 emissions and claimed 74.3mpg.
There’s a host of attractive kit as standard, with LED running lights, hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors and dual zone climate control among the equipment. Most intriguing is Flex Steer, a system allowing three degrees of steering weight – Comfort, Normal and Sport – via the touch of a steering wheel mounted button.
What’s it like to drive?
The good news – it grips well, has decent body control, a supple ride and will change direction with more than enough keenness for most buyers in this corner of the market.
The bad news? While it’s all very nice, there’s little sparkle, and the i30’s driving experience does little to draw in enthusiasts. That’s far from an issue in this wallet-friendly eco version, but should Hyundai choose to transplant a more interesting engine into the i30’s slickly-styled front-end (such as the 183bhp 1.6 turbo petrol due in the Veloster coupe), then the chassis will need extra verve to keep up.
The diesel engine tested here doesn’t feel as keen as its torque figure suggests, but as a cheap to run company car choice it’s hard to fault, with little fuss at motorway speeds and just enough grunt to make the odd country lane interesting. Shame we struggled to top 50mpg in mixed driving.
How does it compare?
This used to be easy, with Hyundais priced at the bottom end of the hatchback market. At £19K before options, though, this i30 is little cheaper than an equivalent Golf, Focus or Astra. It looks as stylish, and its equipment levels and seven-year warranty package trumps The Big Three, but they’re all more exciting to drive.
Anything else I need know?
Flex Steer is a little gimmicky, as without any proper feedback in the steering, the ability to switch its weight makes a marginal difference to the driving experience.