Be­hind the wheel Hyundai i30

The Herald Magazine - - ETC | DRIVE - AN­DREW MACKAY

DE­SPITE the trend to­wards SUVs, hatch­back mod­els are still out there and for a few days I jour­neyed be­hind the wheel of the new Hyundai i30. Since its ar­rival 10 years ago, it’s be­come pop­u­lar in the Hyundai range but now faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of the As­tra, Golf and Fo­cus.

Unique sell­ing points are hard to es­tab­lish in main­stream cars built with more of an eye on trim­ming costs than in­dulging in stitched leather trim. How­ever, the Hyundai has a rep­u­ta­tion for good build qual­ity and de­pend­abil­ity, which may ac­count for the un­lim­ited mileage five-year war­ranty that comes with all mod­els.

On the out­side, the i30 is pleas­antly at­trac­tive – it nei­ther ap­pears bland nor does it ex­press any bizarre styling char­ac­ter­is­tics. Its pas­sen­ger cabin is a fairly bleak af­fair but light­ened up by the large, colour­ful touch­screen mon­i­tor. Leather and soft, squashy sur­faces are lack­ing in favour of durable plas­tics but on the whole it ap­pears well con­structed – and on the move there are no creaks or groans.

Dy­nam­ics and de­sir­abil­ity will never be part of the i30’s al­lure but it will cap­ture the hearts of mo­torists keen on re­li­able trans­port that will not show signs of age af­ter a cou­ple of years. But best of all with this car is that it’s easy to drive, con­trols are has­sle-free, the driv­ing po­si­tion is com­fort­able and the boot is rea­son­ably spa­cious. If reg­u­lar rear-seat pas­sen­gers are not over six feet I’ll not be con­cerned their hair wax will con­tam­i­nate the roof ma­te­rial.

Un­der the bon­net of this model is the now trendy turbo-petrol en­gine of the one-litre, three-cylin­der type known in the range as the 1.0 T-GDi (gaso­line di­rect in­jec­tion). It has an out­put of 120ps and is linked to a sixspeed man­ual gear­box.

Own­ers will find to keep the car mov­ing and main­tain progress it’s nec­es­sary to make lib­eral use of the gear­box. I found sixth gear is best left to mo­tor­ways, while fifth is use­ful when speeds of around 60mph can be main­tained. The rest of the time I used fourth when the car al­most adopted an ea­ger sporty per­son­al­ity – this with­out any ap­par­ent ef­fect on fuel econ­omy.

It would be fool­ish to imag­ine for a mo­ment this model is a sporty hatch­back, how­ever the steer­ing, brakes, han­dling and ride com­po­sure are all to­tally ad­e­quate – and in keep­ing with a car that’s not go­ing to cor­ner on its door han­dles, it went about its busi­ness in de­cent si­lence.

All i30s have an ex­cel­lent bun­dle of safety features and the car has come out well in road safety tests, achiev­ing top marks to be among the best in its class. How­ever, to get a i30 with all the good­ies buy­ers must look a lit­tle fur­ther up the range as en­try-level mod­els have a ba­sic boast of steel wheels with plas­tic rims, Blue­tooth and air con.

My model in SE Nav has the ben­e­fit of a larger eight-inch touch­screen with lots of easy-to-use features. It also has re­vers­ing cam­era, prox­im­ity sen­sors, fold­ing door mir­rors and An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay con­nec­tiv­ity features. In fact, the more time I had with this car the more I liked it. Its swathe of un­in­ter­est­ing dark plas­tics was soon for­got­ten, while the ease of driv­ing be­came a key as­pect, with the gears and con­trols hav­ing ad­di­tional er­gonomic ap­peal.

Hyundai’s sis­ter com­pany Kia of­fers a sev­enyear war­ranty that is good for 100,000 miles. All Hyundais have a five-year war­ranty but in their case, they can in this time drive around Ge­orge Square in Glas­gow for­ever and ever, pay­ing no heed to mileage. This per­haps, af­ter all, gives the car a unique sell­ing point.

The all-new Hyundai i30 proves easy to live with, while it scores top marks for safety

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