Hyundai’s i30: A real big-league hitter

Contemporary design: The Hyundai i30 CRDi BlueDrive
Contemporary design: The Hyundai i30 CRDi BlueDrive

There’s a fairly well established template for new car development.

Broadly speaking a new model is launched, four years later it’s facelifted then it’s replaced at seven years. Hyundai aren’t on that particular treadmill.

In fact, it’s fair to say they’re in a period of massively accelerated development as evidenced by the fact that the i30, the car that really made the general public wake up to Hyundai’s quality, was launched in 2007, facelifted in 2010 and replaced for 2012. What’s more, it sold in increasing numbers every single year of its life, so it’s not as if it had outstayed its welcome.

That sort of development cycle may lead you to think that the second generation model we look at here is an evolution of the old car. Think again.This MK2 i30 is a car that will have its rivals very worried indeed. Most UK customers will buy the 1.6 CRDi 110PS diesel BlueDrive version we’re testing here.

If there was one area where the original i30 came up conspicuously short of the top family hatchbacks, it was styling. The facelift in 2010 helped give the car a bit more personality but this next generation model fires the i30 right into the vanguard of contemporary design.

The key motif is a signature frontal feature - the hexagonal-shaped grille. The interior design is neat with plenty of metallic and silver painted finishes on display, the centre console not looking unlike that of contemporary Ford models with sprouting air vents. Space is plentiful for the rear seat occupants and the rather poky boot of the old i30 has been enlarged, in this case gaining an additional 10% at 378 litres. Build quality seems very good with a lot of attention paid to materials, refinement and panel fit.

Hyundai isn’t holding back when it comes to equipment.

There’s a choice of either a five-door hatch or a Tourer estate and either way, new standard features on the i30 include voice-activated Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, multi-function steering wheel and one-touch indicators.

Active trim level, adds 15” alloys, cruise control, rear parking sensors and Hyundai’s new dynamic Flex SteerTM system, which gives the driver the option of three settings namely: Comfort, Normal and Sport.

All ‘Style’ models benefit from 16” alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, front parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, cornering lights, automatic headlights, automatic de-fog system for front windscreen and electrically folding door mirrors with LED indicators. Topping the trim will be Style Nav, which brings a fully integrated touchscreen satellite navigation system.

Those looking for the lowest running costs should direct their attention to the Blue Drive sub-brand which is Hyundai-speak for high efficiency and low emissions. Energy-saving measures include Integrated Stop & Go (ISG), low-rolling resistance tyres and an alternator management system. With CO2 emissions at just 97g/km and an engine delivery of 110 PS, the Blue Drive 1.6-litre diesel i30 we tried features a best-in-class power to efficiency ratio. Buyers get the option of either a manual or automatic six-speed transmission. Go for the auto and emissions fall substantially to 145g/km.

Insurance groupings range from 7E to 14E across the range on the 1-50 groupings scale.

The Hyundai i30 is a proper big-league hitter now and one that deserves to be judged by exactly the same criteria we’d apply to a Volkswagen Golf, a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Astra. On first acquaintance, you should agree that it seems there or thereabouts. The Hyundai seems right on the money. It’s a car that illustrates just how far this Korean brand has come.