Our cars: Hyundai i30 - July
Week ending July 27
Driven this week: 146
Read the full Hyundai i30 review
This week I've exchanged the Ford Focus for a rival small hatch, the Hyundai i30.
First impressions are that the i30 lacks the sparkle of the Focus, and I'm not just talking about the paintwork! The steering is not as sharp, the gearshift not as precise. However, during my early miles in this car there is also plenty to impress.
The ride is softer and more forgiving than Focus's, which is of benefit given that most of the miles I cover seem to be over sleeping policemen. I'm pleased to find there are loads more cubbies around the cabin, because you can never have too much storage with a baby on board.
I've also switched from a petrol to a diesel but so far the Hyundai gives away little to the Focus in terms of refinement.
We're about to set off on holiday to the Midlands, so we'll find out whether the i30's slightly bigger boot hands the Hyundai the edge on practicality.
Week ending July 20
Driven this week: 250
My daily commute takes me 20 miles in each direction. It's a slow, stop-start slog, especially in the mornings, so comfort and entertainment are as important to me as refinement and performance. I filmed the i30 earlier this year, but have not driven it over any distance. I found it to be a surprisingly pleasant drive, although not without some small niggles.
The first thing I noticed as I drove away was the size of the windscreen. It's large, and lets a lot of light into the cabin. This is, however, spoiled by the position of the A-pillars. They're not only thick, but also long and steeply raked, meaning you have to lean forwards often to check for traffic at junctions.
The i30 zips though commuter traffic with ease. A lumbar support adjustment would have been nice for the longer stretches, but I don't see it as a deal-breaker.
My favourite feature so far is the stereo system. The iPhone-compatible USB port is easy to access, and operating the functions is simple. The quality of the sound is also pleasing for a car at this price point. It's no Bose or B&W by any stretch of the imagination, but it handles a good range of frequencies at levels that can mask the slightly intrusive road- and engine noise.
Week ending July 13
Driven this week 112 miles
Read the full Hyundai i30 review
Our new i30's cabin is a pleasant place in which to spend time. It's smartly styled, the dashboard is easy to navigate, and all the chunky buttons and switches are simple to use. There's also plenty of room, and finding a comfortable driving position takes seconds.
These are the things that help you feel at home from the moment you first get into a car, but it's surprising how many car makers still fail to get the basics right.
Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi 110 Blue Drive Active
Week ending July 6
Driven this week 140 miles
I've driven a few examples of the latest Hyundai i30, and its sister car, the Kia Cee'd, and it's amazing to see how dependent on tyre choices they are.
The 'regular rubber' on many examples seems to be supplied by Korean tyre company Hankook. It's a fair enough choice, with decent levels of grip, but there's also quite a bit of road rumble that does neither hatchback any favours. I noticed this on our long-term i30 the other day, because the car's general refinement - which is pretty decent, I reckon - is compromised by the racket coming from each of its four corners.
My own experience during some back-to-back runs in various Cee'd models is that the experience on Continental tyres - even those of the same size - is considerably quieter. So much so, in fact, that I'd urge anyone buying either car to try to force the dealer into a specific choice of rubber when ordering. In the meantime, our long-term Cee'd has just turned up, on Continentals.
I look forward to seeing how the level of road noise differs on UK roads.