Grey curtains of rancid rain tickle the turbulent terrain of the East Midlands with the pure punch of headlong H2O. While experts spout about drought, here in the British hinterland the populous are fretfully fingering those downloaded diagrams for an aqueous ark. Yet ‘midst the murk and moisture a single bright star spears across the leaden landscape, piercing precipitation with palpable power. Fear not, for this is no malign meteor nor catastrophic comet. The bright burst of brilliance that sears across this scene is no less than the candescent child of a glittering Korea for today I am helming Hyundai’s crucial new mid-range lynchpin, the i30.
The proud prow tells you much that you need to know about this bold new battler in the hotly contested C-segment. Fluid flourishes identify handsome headlamps that bestride a gaping grille as aggressive as a pissed off pit bull. Every swoop of steel and plunge of plastic firmly informs you that this baby means business. The friendly Focus and genteel Golf have just been invited to a hatchback hoedown. Question is, has the hearty Hyundai brought an under-damped knife to this ride-and-handling gun fight?
First impressions do not disappoint. Control surfaces quiver with quality in an interior refreshingly free of egregious ergonomics. Time to get pedalling. The motor fires up fast and settles to a bassy beat. This 1582cc engine may suckle from the black teat of diesel yet its thrum turns to hum as soon as the business pedal is mashed. Couple it to a six-speed gearbox as slick as a Brylcreemed eel and you’ve got an irresistible recipe for powertrain poetry.
So it is that I find myself pedalling apace through the drowning diorama of the near-Kettering countryside, playing the gearlever like a vertical oboe and letting the motor do the torqueing. But now comes the big one. Can this honed Hyundai keep up the conversation when the twisties take a seat at the table? Time to fire this funster at some of the region’s ballsiest B-roads and see if it comes away crying.
I flow it into some searing switchbacks and feel roll being resisted as the Gs start to squeeze. The dynamic ‘dai grips like a gluey gorilla as the sassy chassis soaks up surfaces like steel sprung silica gel. The steering whispers wistfully with slivers of secrets about the suspension’s endeavours as I wind the wheelsmithery up to 11. Coming in hot to an especially luscious left hander I caress the apex and then slam shut the power pedal. All at once the Hyundai’s polished posterior comes out to play. I simply catch it with a dab of oppo and I’m away.
The Hyundai i30 Active 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive is a bitch. And I spanked it.
Troy Queef is Executive Associate Editor-At-Large for DAB OF OPPO magazine