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follows Peugeot to carbon-copy the formula of Volkswagen Golf. Is it
good enough to match the class leader?
I like the last generation
i30 for its sporty, tasteful yet original styling. However, it seems
that Hyundai has changed its mind and decided to follow the footsteps
of Peugeot 308 to replicate the conservative, quality-oriented theme of
Volkswagen Golf, which is admittedly quite successful on the Peugeot.
So the second generation i30 gets boxier, with a solid shoulder line
and thick C-pillars reminiscent of Golf. Meanwhile, the Genesis-like
prominent front grille attempts to bring a premium image but it looks a
bit odd on a compact hatchback. The car
is once again designed at Hyundai's European styling center in Germany,
engineered at Russelsheim and built at Czech Republic. A lot of test
miles were clocked in the great Nurburgring Nordschleife to make sure
it drives like a European car.
Despite the boxier shape, its drag coefficient remains unchanged at
0.30, thanks in part to the active grille shutter which reduces intake
area at higher speeds. The monocoque body is now constructed with high
percentage (53%) of high-strength steel, including even stiffer
hot-stamped steel at parts of crash structure. More extensive use of
adhesives also helps the monocoque to increase torsional rigidity by 22
percent, while its weight is reduced by 28 kg. Nevertheless, other
enhancement means the whole car is slightly heavier than before. It is
also heavier than the equivalent Golf, Opel Astra and particularly the
lightweight Peugeot 308.
it follows the industrial trend closely, it fails to break any new
grounds or introduce any innovations.
The underpinning platform is an evolution from the last one. It keeps
the 2650 mm wheelbase and continues to employ suspensions consisting of
MacPherson struts up front and multi-link arrangement at the rear.
Since the foundation is stiffer, ride quality and NVH suppression
should be improved. Meanwhile, the electric power steering is geared 10
percent quicker to improve agility. While it follows the industrial
trend closely, it fails to break any new grounds or introduce any
innovations. This make it less appealing to automotive journalists and
customers seeking surprises. Unlike Golf, its essence is just as
conservative as it looks.
The same can be said to its engine lineup. All motors are up to date
enough, but none of them are worth special attention. The industrial
trend favours downsized turbocharged engines, so the Hyundai gets a
1.0-liter three-cylinder direct injection turbo. It offers a
respectable 120hp output and is accompanied with decent refinement, but
it does not feel as remarkable as the triples of Ford, Volkswagen, Opel
and PSA (though better than Renault’s), while the heavier i30 is slower
than its rivals.
Need more speed? The 1.4-liter DI turbo four-cylinder is the answer.
Naturally, it is slightly smoother than the three-cylinder, and 140
horsepower is good enough to propel the car to 60 mph in 8 and a half
seconds. Even so, the car feels brisk only if you keep pressing it. It
feels most comfortable and refined working at the mid-range though.
Besides these downsized engines, there are also two larger and older
engines on offer: 1.6 turbo diesel (136hp) and 1.6 DI turbo (204hp,
from Veloster). As we already know, they are not exactly world-class.
chassis feels solid and the handling is predictable, it is tuned too
safe to the extent of boring.
The i30 is not a car that you would enjoy to push to the limit. While
its chassis feels solid and the handling is predictable, it is tuned
too safe to the extent of boring. The steering feels numb and the
chassis response lacks interaction with the driver. Its best asset is
cruising refinement, as its cabin is remarkably quiet and the
suspension is well damped over speed bumps. Nevertheless, the
suspension setup is too stiff for town or backroads. Again, most of its
key European rivals are more rewarding to drive.
Inside, the interior design, packaging and build quality are decent but
not good enough to shake Volkswagen, or even Peugeot or Renault Megane.
The sleek dashboard makes the cabin feel airier, but it looks a bit
flimsy and low on texture quality. The dash top is soft-touch plastics
as in most rivals, but the middle section is hard plastic, whose light
color and shiny surfaces make it feel cheaper still. The same goes for
the freestanding infotainment screen whose housing looks cheap and
fragile. We don’t doubt the fit and finish of Korean cars nowadays, but
they still need to work harder to deliver the perceived quality of
European cars. The front seats are comfortable, while the rear bench
offers just enough space for adults – providing the front occupants are
not too tall. However, the boot volume is generous for this class.
don’t doubt the fit and finish of Korean cars nowadays, but they still
need to work harder to deliver the perceived quality of European cars.
Disappointingly, the new i30 does not quite match the high standards of
Volkswagen Golf despite its similar looks and philosophy. It is hard to
think of any reasons to choose it instead of the sales champion.
Meanwhile, without spending enough efforts to improve its handling and
performance, it has wasted an opportunity to lure buyers from Ford,
Mazda or Opel.