Road Test

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The world has changed. Hyundai is a premium brand, and the new i30 is one reason why

Those who have driven it agree: the Hyundai i30 is an excellent car. You could disapprove of the "i" prefix, regarding it as another example of basking in the reflected glory of Apple's snazzy, super-functional products. But the i30, and the little i10 below it, deserve to bask. They are well-designed, high-quality cars with a convincing sparkle of what German carmakers would probably call premium-ness.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi
Price: From £13,855 to £16,455. On sale now
Engine: 1,582cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbodiesel, 115bhp at 4,000rpm, 188lb ft at 1,900-2,750rpm
Transmission: five-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Performance: 117mph, 0-62 in 11.9sec, 57.6mpg official average, CO2 128g/km

Yes, these are Hyundais we're talking about. And yes, the world has changed. These are cars going the way of Samsung and LG, aspirational brands which happen to be Korean rather than Korean brands bearing second-rate baggage. That notion is out of date.

So here's a new version of the Ford Focus-rivalling i30. It's an estate, but see it from the front three-quarter view and you might not spot the difference. The hatchback has an extra rear-side window behind the back door, its rear edge in a fashionable reverse slope, and the i30 Estate has the same feature in a similar shape. But it's longer, and so is the back door ahead of it because the estate car, like Peugeot's 308 SW, has a longer wheelbase (by 20mm) than the hatchback. That makes it roomier for rear passengers' legs, while enabling the load bay to be extra spacious when the seats are folded down.

Seen from the rear, the Estate is quite different from the hatchback. It still has tall tail-lights but they are more upright and yet taller here. They flank a tailgate that's also more upright, which opens to reveal a lower loading sill – it's at floor-level, in proper estate-car fashion. That means the number plate is displaced from bumper to tailgate.

What you don't get in the i30 Estate are sliding or removable rear seats, the option of extra seats in the load bay, or a separately-opening rear window, all of which the next-newest estate car, the Peugeot, offers. The best that the i30 can manage is a 12V power supply in the boot, a built-in cargo screen to keep highly-stacked loads where they should be, and roof rails.

I can see virtues in the simplicity, not least in the prices. This car's bigger virtues, though, are revealed in how it feels to drive. My test car had the 1.6 CRD turbodiesel engine, which produces 115bhp and 182lb ft of pulling ability while adding just 128g/km of CO2 to the atmosphere. This is a marvellous little diesel engine, one of the best of its size for its combination of power and fuel efficiency. It's smooth, with the usual deep, metallic diesel note but no clattering or grumbling. And it responds crisply to command, like a good petrol engine, while delivering the deep surge of effortless overtaking energy that is one of a good diesel's most appealing attributes.

It somehow shrugs off the i30's weight, making this estate car feel lean, keen and eager. It has accurate, natural-feeling steering, a fluid way of stringing bends together, and light-footed handling of lumps and bumps.

Wow. Can this car do no wrong? I suppose I'm a little blown away by the way the i30 gets the important things right and doesn't get sidetracked by superficial attractions. Not that it's barren inside. There's a solid, slightly sumptuous quality to the interior, helped by the leather-faced Premium (that word again) trim of our test car, in which state it's still cheaper than the cheapest 308 SW or Ford Focus estate with comparable 1.6-litre diesel engines.

Plenty of surfaces are soft-touch, chrome accents add visual value, displays are softly lit in blue. This top model also has automatic air-conditioning and 17-inch wheels which manage not to spoil the ride comfort, despite their low-profile tyres. It even has a heating element in the windscreen designed to release frozen wipers. Other trim levels are Comfort and Style; all have ESP stability control and a built-in iPod/MP3 interface. There's also a 1.6-litre petrol engine although this seems a pointless purchase next to this diesel.

So that's the Hyundai i30 Estate. Seldom does a modern car have such clarity of personality and feel so innately right. If a compact MPV seems like overkill but you want to lug the odd load as well as a family, then given the Hyundai's remarkable value – including a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty – this is the obvious way to do it.

THE RIVALS

Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi estate: from £17,150
Recently given a facelift and probably the best car to drive in this class, although the i30 runs it very close. Howver, it's expensive for what it offers.

Kia C'eed 1.6 CRDi LS SW: £15,00
A close relative of the Hyundai, with similar driving qualities. More plasticky interior and brasher instrument graphics reveal why it's cheaper.

Peugeot 308 1.6 HDi SW: from £16,595
Tilts at the MPV market with its removable seats and seven-seat option, shares its 110bhp engine with Ford. Contrived styling, pleasing cabin.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Primary teaching jobs in Thetford

    £1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...

    Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week