You'd be forgiven for thinking that the brand new Hyundai i30 can't possibly be as good as a Ford Focus, and I would have probably agreed with you. However, after living with it for a week, I can assure you that you'd be mistaken. On a recent trip to the UK, I had the pleasure of having the all-new i30 for the entire week to see what it's really like to live with.
Let's start with the looks. Brilliant! It looks smaller than it's rivals but up close it really isn't. It looks fantastic from any angle, especially with the metallic 'Acra Blue' paintwork.
Much unlike other rivals, the i30 really feels well made. Yes, this is a cheap car, but nothing in the interior would suggest that they've skimped on materials. The seats are comfortable and everything you touch feels nice, smooth and well built.
There's no point in getting into 0-100 times and top speeds here and it certainly won't be setting any records at the Nurburgring, but as a mid-sized economical hatchback it really is impressive. It corners beautifully (for a front-wheel-drive hatch) and cruises smooth on the highway. Speaking of highway driving, turning on the adaptive cruise control and the lane assist makes you feel a little bit redundant, as the car will accelerate, brake and steer by itself. Fortunately, you won't fall asleep as it'll start beeping at you if you take your hands too far away from the wheel.
Borrowing parts from the VW golf of yesteryear was definitely a good idea. Not only have they taken the chassis but the gearbox is the same model used in the MK 5 Golf, meaning it's smooth and almost effortless to operate. Well done Hyundai.
I was genuinely surprised by the level of 'standard' features that come with this car. The stereo isn't bad (isn't good either) and you do get a touch screen and plenty of cup holders. The following also come with the standars base model:
Unfortunately through, Sat Nav is a optional extra, as is keyless entry and electric seats, which do come as standard on most of the i30 rivals.
Considering the base price of just under 20,000 euros, this could possibly be the best value vehicle on sale today, all things considered. I was given the 1.6 Turbo Diesel which rarely dropped below 50MPG anywhere. The emissions are nice and low as you'd expect too, at just 99g/km you won't worry about Road Tax either.
Also available is their new 1.0 Petrol engine and their top-range model will be available with a 2.0TDi.
So, which is best, Focus, Golf or i30? The Golf! If I had to pick one, the VW golf clearly rises above anything else in its class, including the i30. That said, the best value of the 3 clearly goes to the i30. At a whopping 4,000 euros cheaper than the Focus, just as well made (if not better) and better equipped, the i30 really is a tremendous bargain. Of just 7 days living with it, I just cannot deny that I want one. Could it really be forgiven for not having Sat Nav as standard in 2018 though? I'm not too sure!