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This new i30 is the starting point for Hyundai’s hot hatch

Korea’s Nurburgring-honed Golf GTI rival ain’t here yet. But here’s the sensible version

Hello and welcome to your first look at the new Hyundai i30. New Korean hatchbacks don’t tend to be that exciting, and frankly the fairly forgettable looking i30 does little to get us frothy and excitable, but it’s worth paying attention to. Because it’s this car that ex BMW M Division boss Albert Biermann will use to spearhead Hyundai’s attack on the hot hatchback class. 

TG caught up with Biermann, now chief of Hyundai’s ‘N’ go-faster skunkworks, at the N24 race in June, where the mechanicals of the new 2.0-litre turbocharged i30 were hidden in the skin of the old i30. He promised us a Goldilocks blend of power and fun, without a focus on lap times, and hinted at a performance pack for speed freaks. We were excited. In the meantime, let’s have a look at what he’s got to work with.

The new i30, here as the everyday versions that 99 per cent of sensible Hyundai-folk are after, has a much less fussy design than before. In fact, it’s now so smart it’s dull. But you get LED lights and a flap in the front grille to automatically reduce drag at high speeds by closing off some of the cooling intakes. 

Inside, there’s a BMW-style half-floating infotainment screen, operated by touch rather than a control dial on the centre console. Again, the design is staid but there’s little that’ll offend or ward off interested parties inside. The boot’s a competitive 395 litres in size. Another tick in the worthy box. And you can have autonomous emergency braking, auto lane-keep, blind-spot warning and radar cruise control. Tick, tick, tick.

Under the bonnet, the most interesting engine so far is a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder. Downsizing ahoy: it’s 14kg lighter than the old 1.4, and develops 138bhp and 178lb ft. 

Too many cubes for you? Then try the 1.0-litre three-cylinder motor, good for 118bhp and likely to sound keener than the 1.4 too. Diesel fans (anyone out there?) are looked after with a 1.6-litre engine capable of 94bhp, 109bhp or 130bhp. There’s also an optional seven-speed dual-cutch gearbox. All very par for this class, then. 

There are hints Hyundai’s thought about chuckability – the new i30’s body is 28kg lighter and 22 per cent stiffer than before, thanks to more high-strength steel on-board. The i30 now owes 53 per cent of its construction to the stuff. That should bode well for when it’s got some firepower to deploy…

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