In almost a decade, the Hyundai i30 has become one of the pillars of this ambitious brand’s range. Competing with the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, it has long traded on affordability, reliability and generous equipment levels.
In 2017, you need a bit more than that to be truly class-competitive though. Enter a new i30, one based on the old one but sporting an entirely new look outside and in. It’s roomier, packed with smart technology and even the drive has become more dynamic, we’re told, but no less comfortable. Is it now a pillar of strength?
An intriguing new engine option is a 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi three-cylinder petrol engine. This downsized engine performs well in the smaller i20 supermini, but you have to work it surprisingly hard here to make progress. You’ll need to do a fair bit of gearshifting to maintain progress – and it’s best ignoring the eco-minded gearshift indicator entirely.
This will make it tiring to drive when fully laden, and economy’s likely to suffer as well. Not that it’s particularly standout to begin with: 56.5mpg is decent, but a 1.0-litre Skoda Octavia is better still, while feeling a fair bit livelier with it. CO2 emissions of 115g/km are also nothing to write home about.
The same goes for the way it drives. The new i30 never feels as nimble as, say, a new Vauxhall Astra through corners, with noticeable body roll, yet the ride isn’t particularly standout either. Indeed, we’d say it’s probably firmer than before.
Steering is nicely weighted – unusually, it’s heavier than some may expect, a rarity these days – but genuine feel is in short supply. The firm certainly has its work cut out turning this into a convincing i30N hot hatch.
The bits that Hyundai’s traditionally scored better in show a marked improvement, though. Plastics are nice to the touch and the crisp, clear 8.0in touchscreen that comes on most models is easy to use. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included,…