THEY say buying a house is stressful, well buying a new car is going that way as well.
Anyone heading out to buy a new motor is faced with 44 brands offering nearly 400 models. Mind boggling or what? The reality is we have more or less made up our minds after hours trawling the internet but still need to sweep the showrooms to make sure we are getting the best deal.
That is where the stress comes in. It is easy to be pushed off course by tempting offers whether it be bite your hand off discounts, zero finance, juicy PCP deals or big warranties. The dilemma for us is that there are no bad cars out there, just some are more desirable.
Car companies lower down the chain need a USP to grab buyers’ attention and Hyundai and partners Kia have been the masters. Kia’s seven year warranty shook the industry to the core but Hyundai’s five years unlimited mileage with five years roadside assist and free annual checks ups is equally as good.
It has done wonders for establishing the Hyundai brand whose sales have gone up and up topping a staggering 90,000 last year but it takes more than a decent warranty to strike a sale, the cars need to be good as well.
Which brings us on to the new i30 hatchback. What a tough place to be, smack in the middle of one of the most competitive markets, with big hitters like Ford Focus, Vauxhall, Astra, VW Golf and Skoda Octavia bearing down on you. Yet it is not a case of the Hyundai keeping its head down, i30 can hold its own against any of the aforementioned, along with any others.
Hyundai’s brilliant designer chief Peter Schreyer has spiced up the whole range and his team has done a pretty good job with i30. It is no head turner but pleasing to look at with a striking new front grille.
This is a mainstream family hatch so making the best use of space is vital and i30 comes up trumps with rear legroom good for three tall kids, and 395 litres of boot space that outguns Focus and Golf.
Hyundai’s role in the partnership is to sit just ahead of Kia although the difference in quality is barely noticeable now. Against its rivals the new i30 sits just behind leaders Golf and Peugeot 308 on trim and finish which means a comfortable, pleasing cabin.
The designers have played safe with the dashboard layout with a standard twin dial instrument binnacle that gets top marks for clarity but comes up short on style. Yes we want everything to be clear but it would also be good to have something a little more showy. At least the 8in touchscreen that stands tall centre dash brightens things up. It has navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth and all the other essential paraphernalia to keep us connected with the outside world, but the heating controls are separate with good old fashioned switches. Yippee.
Models without navigation make do with a five inch screen but there will be no complaints on i30s standard kit that includes city brake which can avoid a low speed shunt, and the latest lane departure technology to stop the car straying of course, auto lights and washers, and heated door mirrors.
There is not a huge choice of engines but unless you are into 25-30,000 miles a year can I steer you to the new 1-litre petrol. This is another in a string of small three-cylinder engines coming onto the market and is the perfect match punching way above its weight on performance and economy. I averaged around 42mpg and clocked 47mpg on a long run. So new i30 has improved on just about every front, not quite good enough to break into top three, although the margins are incredibly tight, but that five year triple warranty will quite rightly sway a lot of buyers.
In short it is an all round sensible buy for an all round sensible person.