Ford Focus vs Hyundai i30
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.