A new version of the VW Golf for long warranty enthusiasts
Day 1: The old i30 was quite good. It was also only four years old and already there’s this new one. I think this officially means that, in their grand plan to smash Toyota and Volkswagen, Hyundai are Not Mucking About. The old car was a bit frumpy. This one is mad and swoopy. The front reminds me of that green ghoul that eats all the hot dogs in Ghostbusters. An under-rated inspiration for car design.
Took the i30 for a quick drive. Can confirm that the engine makes it go, the brakes make it stop, the steering wheel enables changes of direction. In all major respects, it is a car. A car with a decent ride. Which is good.
Day 2: It’s quite warm out. Uniquely amongst family hatchbacks, the i30 has two auto modes on its climate control rather than the usual one. There’s a ‘soft’ setting and then the opposite of that which is… no, I’m sorry, you’re wrong, it’s actually ‘fast’. An unusually lavish (if grammatically confusing) detail.
Day 3: According to Hyundai’s bumf, their Korean plant annually turns out eight million tonnes of steel for car production. By coincidence, my wife has just ordered eight million tonnes of light fixtures which need picking up from the shop. Remarkably, everything fits into the back. I’m going to describe this car as ‘roomy’.
Day 4: Driving around in the i30 trying to think of anything to say about it. Started wondering why Hyundai don’t make more of their Korean-ness. I’ve heard it’s a groovy place. I know their food is great and they have that booze called soju which is delicious, even though it once made a friend of mine fall over and cut his head open in a restaurant. Turns out, this car is barely Korean at all. It was designed in Germany and made in the Czech Republic.
Day 5: Hyundai wants to crack Europe. Clearly, one of the ways they will do this is by copying VW. Many of the i30’s details – the blue instrument lighting, the reversing camera that pops out under the badge, even the design of the light above the sun visor – are strangely familiar. I think they thought the ‘like a Golf’ ad campaign was a suggestion.
Day 6: Went for a proper drive in the i30. The ride remains very good and the gearlever can be moved satisfyingly from second to third using that pad bit below your thumb that I don’t know the medical name of. The steering is not so good. For no apparent reason it has three modes and not one of them is quite right. ‘Sport’ is artificially heavy and beyond a quarter turn of lock feels like there might be a stick jammed in the mechanism. ‘Comfort’ is so light it gives the impression that the wheel is connected to the rack by a moist breeze. This leaves ‘normal’ which is the best compromise, as long as you remember that all compromises are mushy and vague.
Noticed that if you insist on driving like a helmsmith, the i30 understeers. I don’t know why I mention this. If I said to my Godmother that she shouldn’t buy an i30 because it suffers from understeer she would say, ‘Sorry, I don’t know why undersdear is. Does it have that nice lady in the dashboard who stops you getting lost?’ This model does, actually. It also costs £20,295. Mind you, I specced up a Golf to the same level and it was more than £23,000.
Drove over 100 miles in town, on the motorway and then like a bit of a bellend cross country. The i30’s computer thinks it still averaged 50mpg. Better yet, this model is claimed to produce 100g/km so (for now) it gets free road tax. For a five door family car that can move at a satisfactory rate under its own power, that’s good. Someone should go over to Hyundai’s powertrain laboratory in Korea and ask how the bloody hell they’re doing this. Could you also buy me some soju while you’re over there.
Day 7: Struggling to think of anything particularly bad to say about the i30. It looks fine, it’s decent enough to drive, it doesn’t cause hardening of the arteries or give you eczema. You might find it a bit wanting if you’re really into driving. Most people aren’t. That’s what this car is then – it’s the kind of thing I would recommend to a friend who isn’t especially into cars. In fact, I just have. And he really likes it.
This Hyundai i30 was the snappily named Style Nav CRDi Blue Drive model which has a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine making 126bhp and 192 lb ft. It is claimed to go from 0 to 60 in 10.9 seconds and have a top speed of 117mph.