Driving the new Hyundai i30 for a week was a bit of revelation.
The car is a mid sized diesel-powered hatchback which you would expect to handle like a typical family car, a little soft around the edges and leaning more towards comfort than sport.
But while the car is impressively comfortable, the suspension set up is firm and the steering supremely positive and sharp, giving the car almost a hot-hatch feel.
It sits solidly and squarely on roads even when pushed hard so you can enjoy driving it rather than just seeing it as a car which gets you from A to B.
Powered by a 110bhp engine, the SE Nav 1.6CRDi model I tried is lively but smooth in its power delivery and skips through the seven-speed auto box very quickly indeed so you are in top gear at just over 40 miles per hour to keep fuel consumption down.
If you need a bit of urgency, however, the i30 is happy to oblige and rapidly drops three gears as you stab the accelerator to hurry you on, although the decibels from the engine compartment – normally very low – do increase dramatically.
The new, second generation i30 has an attractive fluid design which makes it eye catching and appealing. At the front it gets the new hexagonal grille to give it the family face of Hyundai and attractive daylight running lights make it easy to pick out.
Practicality is high on the agenda on the inside with an overhead specs holder, a deep central armrest box providing extra storage space and a spacious glove box which can be chilled to store cold drinks etc. There are also generous door pockets on each of the four doors, the rear ones of which have specially designed bottle holders.
There’s more than adequate space for five inside with rear seat passengers getting good leg room, thanks in part to the open space beneath the front seats
And when it comes to getting the family’s luggage in sensible seating design means you can fold the rear seat squabs forward before folding the backrests down, thereby giving you a practical and spacious flat luggage floor.
Reversing is made easy thanks to a pin sharp colour rear view camera – as well as reversing sensors – with the same screen doubling up for the satellite navigation system which, unlike those of many manufacturers today, is intuitive and simple to use.
On the road, the Hyundai is easy to drive and reasonably frugal. I managed to average around 47 miles per gallon, which for an automatic is not bad, although still below the official figure.
You have a choice of steering settings from comfort through normal to sport, the latter proving the most rewarding.
I found the 1.6-litre engine more than up to the job and the seven-speed box meant that motorway cruising was relaxed and quiet.
I did have one alarming incident when stuck in a traffic jam with a slow crawl up a steep hill. The dashboard suddenly flashed up the message “Transmission temperature high. Stop car safely”.
I duly obeyed and never saw it again, although I did report it to the company.
That apart I found the new i30 a stylish, rewarding and practical car and one I could easily live with.
And remember, it still comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, which is a super selling point and shows the confidence the company has in its products.
Model: Hyundai SE Nav 1.6CRDi 110PS DCT Blue Drive
Mechanical: 1,582cc, 110 bhp diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 115 mph
0-62mph: 11.8 secs
Combined mpg: 67.3
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
BiK: 19 %
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited mileage