The Hyundai i30 has long been proof that Korean car makers aren’t just ‘up and coming’ any more. It shows they are here right now. Now, with the latest i30 model, the firm has matured – and starting at £16,995, and rising to well over £22,000, the hatchback from South Korea is no longer the budget option. It takes Ford, Vauxhall and VW head-on.
Hyundai i30 1.4 Premium
Engine capacity: 1.4-litre petrol
Power output (PS @ RPM): 140 @ 6,000
Top speed (MPH): 130
Fuel economy (MPG): 52.3
C02 emissions (G/KM): 124
The Premium-trim model, which I tested, came with a host of clever safety stuff, the firm’s five-year warranty, and now, for the first time, what its European-based Hyundai design team call, sporty styling.
As I’ve said before, I try and avoid subjective aesthetic judgement here, but I can’t help feeling the Hyundai looks a little too similar to some of its rivals. It could easily be mistaken for a Peugeot 308 or a Fiat Tipo.
Is that Hyundai a Fiat?
That won’t bother most buyers though, and inside the Hyundai is a grown-up affair with plenty of good-quality material and excellent entertainment system that works perfectly with a host of apps, including Apple CarPlay. Real progress has been made on cutting down road and tyre noise too.
This is a comfortable car to spend time in then, and in its new higher-powered petrol guise, is a competent motorway workhorse. It’s also, at only 1.4-litres, not too thirsty.
There’s no doubt that the new i30 is better car than the model it replaces, it’s certainly a more comfortable car to drive, but it doesn’t do much to get the automotive juices pumping.
I’m not sure anybody would ever love it though, which is, sort of, important. Cars are emotional choices, and the i30 is devoid of any real emotion.
Is power the answer?
Hyundai though, it appears, has a plan to fix this with the launch of the i30 N hot hatch later this year. It will be the first car to be developed under its new N performance brand.
That’s a fiercely contested part of the market, competing with Ford, VW and Vauxhall hot hatches, but the i30 N will offer up to 276bhp.
That’s all well and good, but the real challenge for Hyundai isn’t attracting boy racers, these are a small part of the market anyway, but turning an entirely competent, but dull hatchback, into something a little more desirable.
VW has done this with the Golf, and as always that’s the benchmark in this section of the car market. Hyundai is playing with the big boys now, but it’s being held to their standards too.