New Hyundai i30 review

* Hyundai's all-new i30 driven * Price from 14,000 * On sale March 2012...

New Hyundai i30 review

What is it? This is the all-new edition of Hyundai's best-selling i30 hatchback.

Like its predecessor, which was launched four years ago, this replacement has been designed, engineered and built in Europe with European tastes in mind.

Along with bolder, more distinctive styling than the old car, it also has a bigger, better-finished cabin, a wider equipment choice and some upgraded engines. The 1.6 CRDi we tested puts out a healthy 126bhp, with emissions that will be sub-100g/km, although Hyundai has yet to publish the final CO2 figure.

The sophistication of multi-link rear suspension, three-setting power steering and the availability of dual-zone climate control, a panoramic roof and a seven-inch infotainment screen all signal the more sophisticated standards that Hyundai is setting with this car.

Most i30s can also be bought with the fuel-saving stop-start system used on the previous model.

What's it like to drive? It's fairly civilised, and while it's not the smoothest small diesel, it pulls well after 1500rpm and stays that way through to 3500rpm.

After that, it tails off somewhat, but a smooth-moving gearshift helps you make the best of the available pulling power.

The i30 is pretty refined up front, but those stationed in the rear will find motorway cruising a noisier experience.

The Flex Steer power steering has three settings; in Normal and Comfort the weighting and feel are not that different the effort required is fairly low. In Sport, there's more weight and stronger self-centering, but none of these settings provides much feel.

However, the Hyundai corners tidily, grips well and steers accurately enough to feel confidently sure-footed. For the most part it rides well too, although bumps can turn the experience a little choppy.

What's it like inside? The driver sits behind a dashboard of noticeably greater sophistication in this new i30, with its boldly sculpted soft-feel upper moulding, a colour information display in the instrument pack and, in some models, a colour seven-inch infotainment screen.

There's also a (rather noisy) electric park brake and an excellent centre console design that includes two rubber-lined storage trays, multiple multimedia ports and a deep, lidded storage box.

There's more interior space too. Back-seat passengers enjoy decent room and a well-shaped seat with it. The enlarged boot is well shaped, and the back bench's seat cushions lift forwards to allow the backrests to fold flat while preventing clutter from cascading into the footwells.

Should I buy one? The outgoing i30 made quite a strong case for itself with its mix of competence, value and a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty that included roadside assistance and annual vehicle checks.

That warranty remains to support a new car that's considerably more stylish, brisker, more economical, fairly refined and comfortably capable on the go. It's also available with a wide range of equipment options.

No prices have been announced, but if Hyundai can maintain the keen value for money offered by the outgoing i30, this new version promises to be highly attractive.

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