It’s tough making progress in the hotly contested Golf/Focus section of the car market. The top models are so good, it’s every manufacturer for himself.
So Hyundai has adopted a novel approach in replacing its contender, the i30, not with just another hatchback, but with a family of four different models.
First to break cover are the Hatchback and Tourer (estate). But in a few months they will be followed by a handsome Fastback version and a fiery i30 N, squarely aimed at the Golf GTi and Focus ST, among others.
The design has been tweaked, with tauter lines and a new corporate “cascading” front grille. The cabin is much better than before and almost unrecognisable from the original i30. It is well equipped, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane keeping assist and smart cruise control.
There are three petrol engines and one diesel. The petrol units have three and four-cylinder 1.0-litre to 1.4 motors producing 100 to 140PS and the 1.6 four-pot diesel is available with 95, 110 or 136PS.
I drove a petrol 1.4 100PS Tourer back from the i30’s international launch in Germany, and it provided civilised if unspectacular transport, which rode well and didn’t sound too fussy. But against such strong opposition it remains a rational rather than an emotional choice.
The stylish Fastback version is a first in this section of the market, but it is the i30 N (named after Hyundai and Kia’s research facility at Namyang) which will grab the headlines when it arrives.
In standard form the car will have a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine producing 250PS and accelerating it from rest to 62mph in 6.4 seconds. But there is an optional Performance Pack which will boost this to 275PS, comfortably making it Hyundai’s fastest ever model.
Hyundai i30 Premium 1.4 140PS
Top speed: 130mph
Combined mpg: 51.5-58.9 (depending on tyre size)
Emissions: 109 - 125g/km (as above)