Our cars: Hyundai i30 - September
Week ending September 28
Miles this week: 110
Read the full Hyundai i30 review
I swapped my long-term Kia Cee'd for the i30 this week, in order to compare these two very similar cars.
Like the Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady, they're sisters under the skin. They share platforms, engines and much of their technology. They're similarly sized, similarly specced and evenly priced.
I was surprised, then, to find so many differences between the two.
The question of interior design and exterior styling is largely a matter of personal taste, with opinion here at What Car? still split 50/50. On the road the i30 starts off by being the more refined, with a sweeter (less powerful) engine, a softer ride and more comfortable seats. However as the speed increases so does the road noise, most originating from the Hankook tyres. It makes motorways a bit of a chore, despite the engine's gruff note becoming more subdued at higher speeds.
Those tyres are also responsible for the i30's softer steering responses, which unfortunately is the last thing it needs. The i30's engine seems to be slightly more flexible, which is useful as both these cars have tall gearing, and neither of them function well at low revs. It makes urban pottering a little easier.
On the whole I still prefer the more positive driving experience of the Ceed, as well as its more functional dashboard layout and sharper looks. However if I were shopping for a car to be used specifically in town, and had the chance to change the tyres, the i30 might get my vote.
Driven this week: 221
A whistlestop trip up and down the M1 this week highlighted much of what's good about the Hyundai i30, as well as one key bugbear.
First, the good bits. The i30 ate the journey for breakfast despite the fact that I set off long before eating mine. The seats are comfortable, the ride cosseting, the handling secure and the engine punchy, but efficient with it.
Although we have yet to match Hyundai's economy claims of 76mpg I easily matched our True MPG testers' figure of 54mpg during the drive. Better still, I arrived at my destination feeling fresher and more relaxed than I had any right to.
The negative? Too much noise makes its way into the Hyundai's cabin. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is refined, but as speeds increase, both it and the road surface become audible to the point where you have to turn up the stereo to drown out the din. This is a disappointing foible in such a competent all-rounder – because if Hyundai could sort it out, the i30 would be right up with the best in class as an ownership proposition.
Week ending September 14
Miles this week 149
I've already mentioned the Hyundai's pleasing practicality for a car of its size, and on two occasions this week I was reminded of it.
First, my one-year-old son graduated to a bigger and much bulkier forward-facing child seat. The new chair is notably heavier than its predecessor, but the i30's decent rear space and wide-opening doors mean that getting the seat into and out of the car is more straightforward than a smaller seat was in my old Focus.
The Hyundai's space and flexibility were then tested to the limit during a rescue of my partner and his mountain bike after he'd broken a wheel 20 miles from home. Heading off to pick him up I seriously doubted whether the i30 could accommodate a baby and a bike at the same time, but the split/folding rear seat ultimately allowed us to carry both - much to the relief of everybody involved.