Hyundai reveals new i30 ahead of Paris motor show debut

Korean firm’s hatchback will take on Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra

“We have listened closely to customer needs in redefining our offer to create a car for everyone. It’s the new people’s car: accessible, appealing in design and great to drive.”

Those are the words of Jochen Sengpiehl, vice president marketing at Hyundai Motor Europe and they're indicative of just how far Hyundai has come from its beginnings as a maker of warmed-over Ford Cortinas.

The all-new i30, revealed for the first time in these photographs, is not merely intended to be an also-ran in Europe's congested and competitive hatchback market, it's aimed straight down the throats of the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra.

Hyundai really has started from the basics with this new model. The Korean firm actually has its own steel foundry so the materials for the i30 (along with its other cars) can be specified down to the gram of weight.


Although the platform that underpins the car is basically the same as that under the outgoing model, it has been hugely modified and reworked. 53 per cent of the body is made of high-strength steel, which means that the body-in-white (before paint, powertrain and trim are added) is almost 30kg lighter than it used to be. Overall rigidity is up by 22 per cent.

Hyundai has been working hard on the suspension too, including gruelling sessions at the Nurburgring and the chassis engineers have sharpened up the steering by about 10 per cent, compared with the current car, and the combination of McPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension is claimed to give a “very agile and responsive handling”. The brakes have also been increased in size and stopping power.

Three power outputs

The engine line-up will use some carry-over units, including the 1.0-litre 120hp three-cylinder turbo petrol already seen in the i20, while the 1.6-litre turbo diesel will now be available in three power outputs: 95hp, 110hp and 133hp, with Co2 emissions kicking off from a low 89g/km depending on the model. All models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available on certain versions.

All-new is a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, with 140hp and Co2 emissions of 126g/km, which may make for a tempting prospect for those put off by the negative recent press surrounding diesel power.

Eventually, we’ll also see the sporty N model, built under Hyundai’s new high-performance brand. It’s expected to have at least 260hp from a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, but that is for much later in 2017.

Inside, you can choose from a five-inch touchscreen or an optional eight-inch “floating” screen, which looks very BMW-ish.

The cabin looks to be of exceptionally high quality, and Hyundai has frittered away all of that body-in-white weight saving by ladling on the equipment.

On top of standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you'll also be able to have or to add autonomous emergency braking with front collision warning system, smart cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist system, speed limit information function, driver attention alert and high beam assist.

But if the i30 lacks not for standard equipment, it does seem to lack a little for style. Chief designer Peter Schreyer makes much play of the design being "an evolution of Hyundai Motor's design language with natural flowing lines, refined surfaces and a sculpted body to create a timeless appearance" but to us it looks a touch plain, too similar to the i20 and the new "cascading" grille looks as if it has been lifted from an Infiniti.

We'll be able to find out more, in the flesh so to speak, when the new i30 is revealed to the public in Paris at the end of this month, and when it goes on sale here in Ireland in the first quarter of 2017.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring