2013 Hyundai i30 3dr prototype review

* Prototype Hyundai i30 3dr driven * Production car on sale January 2013 * Priced from 14,200 (est)...

2013 Hyundai i30 3dr prototype review

The Hyundai i30 3dr is the third model to join the i30 range, and the companys first three-door small family car.

Its mechanically identical to the five-door hatchback (theres also a Tourer estate with slightly stiffer rear suspension), but the three-door car looks sportier thanks to its black mesh front grille, beefier bumpers and more tapered side windows.

The i30 3dr will be officially unveiled at the Paris motor show later this month. However, weve already seen the finished design and driven a prototype at a test track in the Czech Republic.

Whats the 2013 Hyundai i30 3dr like to drive?
If youre expecting sporty handling worthy of the looks, youre going to be disappointed because the i30s steering is pretty vague. Even the Flexsteer system, which lets you choose from three weight settings, doesnt do much to help.

We found the handling of this prototype did not reflect the car's sporty looks

Its a shame because strong grip keeps things secure in bends, and while theres more body lean than you get in a Ford Focus or VW Golf, the car doesnt feel sloppy.

Ride comfort is an i30 strength, while the only wind noise that could be heard in our test car was generated by the camouflage it wore.

However, our experience of the five-door suggests that road noise might well be an issue on UK surfaces.

Our test car was fitted with a 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, which delivers decent performance, although this isnt offered in UK five-doors; it remains to be seen whether it will be an option on the three-door.

The only wind noise in our test car came from the camouflage it wore

The 1.6-litre diesel engine that's in the five-door will definitely be available, plus Hyundai has hinted that the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine from the Veloster Turbo may go into the car later in its life.

Whats the 2013 Hyundai i30 3dr like inside?
From behind the wheel this new three-door model looks almost identical to other versions of the i30.

The cabin is reasonably classy thanks to its textured surfaces and swish design, plus the layout of the dashboard is easy to understand and theres a good range of adjustment to help the driver get comfortable.

The only real difference is that over-the-shoulder vision is much worse in the three-door car due to its thicker rear pillars and the upsweep of its rear side windows.

Theres no memory function on the front seats, so you have to reset your driving position every time you let someone into the rear of the car. However, theres space for a couple of six-footers back there, even when the optional panoramic glass roof is fitted.

As in the five-door, you get a well-shaped boot that can swallow a sizeable 378 litres of luggage.

If you value comfort over handling, the i30 3dr could be the car for you

Should I buy one?
Hyundai says it hasnt decided whether its going to pitch the i30 3dr as a cheaper alternative to the five-door model or as a stylish alternative that carries a small premium.

Either way, though, it is likely to be one of the cheaper cars in its class.

Well reserve final judgment until weve driven a production car on the road, but the signs are promising. If you like the looks and value comfort over handling, it should be well worth considering.