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The success of Asian brands in Europe has been increasing at an unstoppable rate over the past few years, meaning that pulling one into your driveway for the first time is no longer something you have to explain to puzzled neighbours.
Hyundai in particular has lofty ambitions, announcing that it wants to be the biggest of the Asian manufacturers in Europe by 2021. A big part of its ambitious strategy is its i30 family, which has been updated for 2017. We jumped in the new i30 Tourer on the east coast of England, and took it right across the Channel into France, through to its exclusive Düsseldorf launch ? and back again.
What is instantly noticeable is that just like its Hatch, the Tourer offers a high level of standard safety equipment, with a lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking and hill start assist control on all models ? key to winning over potential buyers.
Our test car was the petrol-powered 1.4 T-GDi Tourer paired with a manual transmission and in Premium SE guise, the highest available. The Premium SE gives you the addition of a panoramic sunroof, leather seat facings and a heated steering wheel in addition to the Premium spec, which includes 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, electronic parking brake with auto hold function, privacy glass and heated front seats with artificial leather/cloth seat facings.
In this segment, practicality sells. Boot space has been boosted from the previous i30 Tourer by 74 litres, increasing it to a total of 602 litres and an impressive 1,650 litres with the rear seats lowered. This amount of space was handy for such a long drive, where picnic baskets and cooler boxes were essential. The Estate is available for just £500 more than the Hatch model, making it a worthy size upgrade in our eyes, with the hatch offering 1,301 litres with the seats folded down.
In the cabin, head and legroom were plentiful and, despite, an inevitable numb bum on day two, the seats were comfier than most in the class. The interior was also spruced up with luxuries such as a vast panoramic sunroof plus an 8.0in touchscreen satnav display and a 4.2in driver display in the instrument panel.
On the motorway, the kind of road we were driving on for the vast majority of the journey, the range-topping petrol powertrain - a turbocharged 140hp 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine - didn't struggle too much. Its refinement at high speeds is very impressive and motorway miles are a quiet pleasure too. Where it did struggle was on the winding roads of the French countryside, where it lacked the thrill you would hope for.
It didn't take too long to detect a little body roll in corners but, overall, the ride is quite well judged, with light steering. Compared with the Golf and Ford Focus, though, the Hyundai still lacks the edge and steering feel for it to be the pick of the class.
Our test car wasn't the most frugal of the range, emitting 129g/km, sitting in the 24% BIK band and costing £23,940. This position is in fact dominated by the 110hp 1.6-litre diesel, which costs from £20,140 and emits 99g/km of CO2, putting it in the 21% BIK bracket. All in all, the estate is a practical, affordable and well-made family car. Its only real downsides are an unglamorous badge and slightly underwhelming performance, but with Hyundai aiming to become more premium, that could all be set to change.