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Hyundai's facelifted lower-medium car is its latest model to gain mild hybrid power.
Having previously tried a pre-production prototype, we get our first go in the finished version of Hyundai's facelifted lower-medium car.
Standard equipment on SE Connect:
16in alloy wheels, automatic headlights with integrated LED DRLs, front fog lights, electric folding door mirrors, 8in touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring system
Hyundai is a company on the up when it comes to design. Its new i20 supermini is far funkier than its predecessor, and the new Tucson SUV is arguably even more striking. However, with the facelifted i30 seen here, Hyundai has taken a more reserved approach. Changes to the lower-medium model's exterior include new, slimmer headlights and v-shaped daytime running lights, along with a redesigned rear bumper. The overall effect is handsome enough, but it's not as eye-catching as the i30's new siblings.
Inside, the main new additions - a 7in digital instrument cluster and 10.25in infotainment touchscreen - aren't normally included with the entry-level SE Connect equipment grade, but were fitted to our test car as options (a 3.5in driver screen and 8in touchscreen are standard). The 7in instrument display is welcome, but on the small side compared with the full digital displays seen on other cars (including Hyundai's own new i20 supermini). While the touchscreen, although a highly responsive and polished system, features icons that are a bit small to try to hit while driving, and the graphics in the sat-nav system don't look the most modern - though if you like a quirky feature, the touchscreen does allow you to have sound effects such as 'lively forest' or 'open air café' playing as you drive along. The interior is otherwise a pretty grey place to be, although passenger space is reasonable and there's a good size boot.
Perhaps the most significant change with the facelift, and certainly from a company car point of view, is the addition to the range of 48V mild hybrid engines. Our test car had a 120hp petrol - a 136hp diesel and 159hp petrol are also available depending on spec. As we've previously seen with the i20, these powertrains feature a 'sailing' mode where lifting off the throttle means the engine turns off to save fuel - something made possible in our test car by a clever 'intelligent' manual gearbox that can decouple the clutch automatically.
However, whereas the 100hp i20 felt nippy, the 120hp i30 feels more sluggish than expected, especially at low revs - where the accelerator pedal and gear lever have to be worked surprisingly hard to make progress, though mid-range acceleration is better at speed. The handling's not great either, as when cornering the car feels quite nose-heavy and lethargic - the N Line equipment grade, featuring sports suspension, would be a better choice for keen drivers. At least the SE Connect's cruising speed ride quality is good, though there can be some jolts on urban roads.
As with the i20, Hyundai has reconfigured the i30 range so that the entry-level SE Connect equipment grade offers a higher level of standard kit than its previous equivalents. However, for once this is an area where the i30 has an advantage over the smaller model, as where the i20 ends up looking relatively expensive, the i30 remains good value. Compared with mild hybrid equivalent models, such as the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia, the i30 is around £2,000 cheaper to buy, which equates to savings on both a cost-per-mile basis and on BIK company car tax (though the Octavia's price is inflated by being auto only). It's a good job it is though as, value aside, the i30 in this spec is no more than an adequate performer in this segment.
Hyundai i30 SE Connect 1.0 T-GDi 120hp IMT 48V Hybrid