The start point for the best source of fleet information
Hyundai's efforts to improve quality and shake off its white goods image were personified by the upper medium i40 when it joined the ranks last year. Now the Korean firm has brought its lower medium offering - the i30 - up to the same standards.
That's not to say that the first i30 was bad. It moved the quality game along in a big way for Hyundai when it arrived in 2008, but you only have to glance at the new version to notice the parallels with its larger sibling. The handsome styling is a world apart from that of its rather anonymous predecessor.
At 20mm longer and 10mm wider, there's more room in every respect. The interior is also a dead ringer for the i40's, with liberal use of gloss black surfaces and a solid fit and finish. Only one or two low-grade elements give away the cheap heritage.
Five engines are available: 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrols with 100hp and 120hp, along with a 1.4-litre 90hp CRDi diesel and two 1.6-litre CRDi diesels with 110hp and 128hp respectively. It will come as no surprise that the 1.6 CRDi 110 Blue Drive (Hyundai's eco sub-brand that simply adds a stop/start system) is tipped to be the biggest fleet seller, courtesy of its headline 76.3mpg and 97g/km figures. Equally, there isn't a diesel variant that exceeds 110g/km.
The 128hp CRDi is by far the most potent of the diesels, but the 110hp unit is competent enough despite its power deficit, and the whole-life costs make it the obvious choice.
The firm may have the Ford Focus in its sights but the i30 unsurprisingly holds less driver appeal than the Blue Oval's sector stalwart. It makes up for that with a fine ride and impressive refinement, while the engines remain suitably quiet until driven hard.
Kit such as Bluetooth and LED daytime running lights on the entry-level Classic spec make a strong case in terms of car for the money, while the mid-spec and likely best-selling Active variant adds, for example, cruise control, rear parking sensors and all-round electric windows. Hyundai also claims stronger RVs for the new i30 with 31% up from 26% for the outgoing model.
The company is aiming to increase its fleet sales by a quarter in 2012 and has the i30 pegged as its flagship model for corporate registrations. Business users looking to downsize into a hatchback or those seeking a comprehensive but good-value lower medium model could do far worse than the Hyundai - not least because the lowest-emitting version is clean enough to dodge the impending benefit-in-kind hike.