New i30 sees Hyundai on a high

With Hyundai a winner of scrappage, ANDY RUSSELL drives the new i30.The black cloud over the motor industry has had a silver lining for Hyundai which has been a winner in the scrappage scheme.

With Hyundai a winner of scrappage, ANDY RUSSELL drives the new i30.

The black cloud over the motor industry has had a silver lining for Hyundai which has been a winner in the scrappage scheme.

The Korean car-maker has shifted more than 38,000 cars since May under the scheme which offered �2,000 off a new car against their 10-year plus trade-in.

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It opened many people's eyes to the brand's values - lots of motor for your money and the peace of mind of a five-year warranty - so much so that Hyundai beat Ford and Vauxhall to top the monthly sales chart in August.

Now Hyundai is striving to keep those new customers and win new ones with two initiatives - Happy Returns allowing its scrappage customers to chop in their cars up to a year old for a new one for as little as �499 while Trade & Upgrade offers a �2,000 allowance to owners of seven to 10-year-old cars.

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Even better news is that Hyundai has just facelifted its i30 following the success of the sporty special Edition model.

The i30 has always been a good-looker, launching the new 'i' range and a huge turning point for Hyundai, so no surprise this is a mid-life makeover to freshen up the styling. The new model gets a redesigned grille and air intakes in line with Hyundai's new hexagonal family face, sportier bumpers and extended side skirts.

Apart from a few specification changes it is very much a case of it ain't broke why fix it after a host of improvements late last year, including a stop-start system available as a �200 option on all models to cut the engine in stationery traffic to save fuel and reduce emissions.

Buyers can choose from 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines and two 1.6-litre turbo diesels and all do a good job.

The popular 1.4 will trickle along at low revs but with maximum torque at 5,000rpm you need to get the revs up for serious acceleration. To its credit, this lovely little engine spins freely without any sign of strain although it gets boomy when pushed hard. It cruises comfortably at 70mph on a light throttle and you have to be careful to keep the speed in check. Once up to speed, the engine is pretty quiet which makes road noise more noticeable.

The i30 is up against serious class competition in the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf - all cars acclaimed for their ride and handling balance. The i30 is not in the same league but not far short. It holds the road well with a confident, composed feel through corners, making it quite entertaining. The steering is light at speed but ideal when parking.

The ride is generally comfortable and forgiving and it takes a grotty road to upset the i30 although there is some suspension noise over bumps and lumps at low speed.

Compared to the smart exterior, the interior is a little disappointing with dark trim giving it a sombre feel but you'll appreciate its other qualities.

The main one is the amount of space in the back where long-legged passengers won't feel the pinch. Add to that a decent boot that took three medium-sized suitcases, an overnight bag and coats and the i30 is practical transport. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat once the cushions have been raised upright.

Behind the wheel there's a good range of adjustment for both seat and steering wheel but rear visibility is hampered by chunky rear pillars even though Hyundai has made efforts to minimise their impact with a small glass panel behind the rear door. While the dashboard does not have the wow factor of the Focus, Golf or new Astra it's hard to fault its logical layout with clear instruments, user-friendly rotary knobs for temperature and fan, push-buttons to control airflow and the audio system set high on the fascia.

No complaints either about the fit and finish with soft-touch plastics for the top of the dashboard and door panels and hard-wearing fabric for the seats which, while giving good support, I found a little firm on long journeys and the adjustable active front head restraints are set too far forward. Four doorbins, a decent glovebox and lots of cubbyholes provide good storage and full marks for an MP3 jackpoint and USB port in front of the gear lever along with two 12-volt powerpoints - important if you want to run sat-nav and charge a phone at the same time.

A new Classic entry-level model joins Comfort and Premium and the special Edition. Standard equipment will tempt buyers with stability control, air-conditioning and six airbags across the range. Comfort adds rear electric windows, 16in alloy wheels, steering wheel audio controls and leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. Range-topping Premium gets half leather trim, 17in alloys, reversing sensors and climate control. The Edition model comes with 16in alloys, rear privacy glass, sports pedals, remote locking and heated door mirrors.

For the money the i30 is an impressive package, undercutting some class rivals by thousands of pounds, but still has strong resale values. It's not difficult to see why Hyundai won so many buyers over.


PRICE: �13,400 (range �12,000 to �15,550)

ENGINE: 1,396cc, 108bhp, four-cylinder petrol

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 11.6 seconds; top speed 116mph

MPG: Urban 37.2; extra urban 54.3; combined 46.3 (with stop-start 40.9; 56.5; 49.6)

EMISSIONS: 145g/km (with stop-start 135g/km)



WARRANTY: Five years/unlimited mileage

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE? Length 4,245mm; width 1,775mm; height 1,480mm

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