Ford Fo­cus vs Hyundai i30

NZ Autocar - - Contents -

See what we did there with our ti­tle? Not only is this a com­par­i­son of two compact hatches but it’s also a con­densed two-way. We had this pair, Hyundai’s i30 and Ford’s Fo­cus, through the of­fice at the same time last month, and given both had re­ceived a freshen up re­cently, and sell for around the same money, we thought it pru­dent to com­pare them. In the light blue cor­ner is the Fo­cus Ti­ta­nium with its new 132kW/240Nm 1.5 tur­bopetrol. This is used across the hatch range now, save for the go-fast ST, while the wagon still uses the old atmo en­gines. Base Kuga also runs the 1.5 en­gine to good ef­fect. The diesels have been ditched. And so too has the twin-clutch gear­box, this new 1.5 turbo mated to a sixspeed auto. And it’s a slick lit­tle num­ber. We ini­tially thought Ford had worked mir­a­cles to re­fine its twin-clutch be­fore re­al­is­ing it was ac­tu­ally an auto. Why the switch? Cus­tomer pref­er­ence to­wards more re­fine­ment ap­par­ently and the Yanks just don’t get twin­clutches. Iron­i­cally, the car from the dark blue cor­ner, the Se­ries II Hyundai i30 with a 1.6 diesel has a new seven-speed twin-clutch. This is due to Euro­pean cus­tomers who are said to be happy with a diesel/twin-clutch combo. Ford sells the Fo­cus diesel with its dual-clutch ’box in Europe too.

So how do they com­pare? The Ti­ta­nium is $46,840, $3k more than the i30 diesel Elite. While most have dropped diesel op­tions from their compact car ranges, Hyundai per­se­veres with a 1.6-litre op­tion. There’s 100kW and 300Nm from 1750-2500rpm, and the prom­ise of 4.9L/100km.

The i30 takes 10.5sec to reach 100km/h, two sec­onds be­hind the Fo­cus. In-gear pull is bet­ter in the diesel but not by much and thanks to the smart auto in the Fo­cus you are never wait­ing for some­thing to hap­pen. Hyundai’s diesel is laggy be­low 1800rpm, and the twin-clutch can take its sweet time to down­shift. That it will try to pull away in sec­ond gear from a not-quite-stopped traf­fic sit­u­a­tion ex­ac­er­bates the feel­ing of lag. We’d take the added fuel use of the Fo­cus ( Ti­ta­nium rated at 6.9L/100km) and enjoy the power and im­me­di­acy of the tur­bopetrol.

On the go, the Fo­cus has al­ways been a great steer and noth­ing much has changed

there. The helm is a bit lighter at slower speeds but it still di­rects you around with pre­ci­sion and with a level of feed­back lack­ing in the Hyundai. With the Flexs­teer sys­tem, the i30 is per­fectly fine, but it doesn’t have the same in­ter­ac­tion as the Ford. The Fo­cus has sports sus­pen­sion and su­pe­rior rub­ber, so nat­u­rally bests the i30 in deal­ing to cor­ners with more sta­bil­ity and grip but peg­ging one back for the i30 is its ride qual­ity, es­pe­cially around town; the sporty look of the Fo­cus comes with a sharper ride as well. Still we’d live with it, sim­ply for that steer­ing.

And most liked the look of the Fo­cus bet­ter, the sports styling suit­ing the Ford, whereas the i30 can blend in, de­spite its chrome treat­ments and huge grille. So why then would you be want­ing an i30? It is more spa­cious and com­fort­able while it’s in­te­rior de­sign and the level of fin­ish­ing are also su­pe­rior. The i30 has a wider, deeper boot, and split fold­ing is eas­ier to achieve. There’s more leg room in the rear too where it’s a bit of a squeeze in the Fo­cus. Up front there is more space, and the seats are more com­fort­able in the Hyundai. Some of the plas­tics in the Ford were al­ready in a poor way, the ve­hi­cle only hav­ing trav­elled 1500km. The Fo­cus does have good cuphold­ers though, with a clever se­cret hidey hole be­neath them.

The ad­di­tion of Sync2 in­fo­tain­ment has de-clut­tered the Fo­cus dash, and gives you all the con­nec­tiv­ity you could hope for, along with sat nav and a big im­age for the re­vers­ing cam­era; the screen is too small in the i30. This diesel Elite model has a few ex­tras like a smart key, park­ing sen­sors and leather trim along with heated seats, but it lacks much of the Ford’s booty like nav, sun­roof, self park­ing, and there are no ac­tive safety fea­tures. Both get five safety stars but the Ti­ta­nium adds fea­tures like drowsi­ness de­tec­tion, emer­gency au­ton­o­mous brak­ing, ac­tive cruise, self park­ing, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, ac­tive lane keep­ing and auto high­beams. The i30 does have one more air bag and Isofix for the kids.

Over­all, we’d opt for the Fo­cus here; there’s more char­ac­ter with its racier driv­e­train and en­gag­ing han­dling. It looks bet­ter, and its added ac­tive safety fea­tures are ap­pre­ci­ated. If you’re af­ter space, bet­ter qual­ity and a bit more ride deco­rum, the i30 isn’t bad, but we’d rec­om­mend the i30 2.0 Elite Lim­ited over the diesel.

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