Hyundai are on the up and up

WHEN you are on a roll, you are on a roll they say, and Hyundai Ireland are certainly in overdrive these times, writes John Knox.

WHEN you are on a roll, you are on a roll they say, and Hyundai Ireland are certainly in overdrive these times, writes John Knox.

The Korean manufacturers are now among the high rollers in the car trade here, having taken over fourth place for unit sales on the Irish car market. This puts Hyundai ahead of Nissan, Skoda, Audi, BMW, Renault, Peugeot and Open in the rankings.

The creation of this new order follows a health sales increase to 8.9% for Hyundai, up from 6% last year. This is the highest market share the brand has ever enjoyed.

Conquest sales are obviously driving things for Hyundai, with buyers obviously impressed with their cutting edge design and very strong warranty protection – the 5-year Triple Care Service which includes 5-year unlimited mileage; 5-year Roadside Assistance and 5-year Vehicle Health Check.

Customers have never been more value conscious, and Hyundai are ticking all right boxes, it would appear, with their modern, fresh looking body styles – the beautiful i.40 is the stand out example – plus well equipped and fuel efficient cars.

Continue to surprise

Hyundai continue to surprise. One loved, not liked, but loved, the i.40 when I drove it and the general feeling was that it would be a hard act to follow.

Well, the smaller brother, the i.30 is a fair detail too. The instant eye pleasing impact of the big brother might not be there, but it is still a striking Tourer that fulfils in a grand manner the primary function of providing good space for driver, passenger and what they need to carry.

Functionality for your average family was the target set, and Hyundai delivered, with top class economy thrown into the mix.

The i.30 is available with 1.4 petrol (90 and 100bhp) and diesel (90bhp) units, plus the bigger 1.6 litre engines. The i.30 engines are mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, and there is an automatic option too.

Prices begin at 18,995 euro (ex-works) and climb to 26,995 euro (ex-works) for the 1.6 diesel automatic.

In this market sector much of the emphasis with buyers centres around value for money. The i.30 scores in terms of economy – up to 81mpg on the combined cycle; annual road tax of 190 euro and with an extended servicing interval there are saving there too.

All very well, I can hear you say, but how does the car drive and perform? With gusto, actually!

Delivers smartly

The 1.4-litre diesel is not a small unit trying to act big. It delivers the power smartly, constantly and in my experience didn’t cry for help in terms of having to be changing gear to keep the drive on the boil. And don’t forget that economy driving is part of the i.30 story, part of the reason for that being that the car shed weight in the build.

The refined chassis minimises body roll, and all aboard travel in comfort. The driving position, height adjustable, is comfortable, with a easy view of all the main controls, and there are good size seats all round.

Hyundai pulled off a neat trick in the provision of space, both in the cabin and boot. There is decent head, shoulder and leg room for all. The regular boot space is 378 litres, and with the rear seats folded down this swells to a very generous 1,316 litres.

The i.30 is a 5-star winner in terms of safety, and it comes with a lengthy list of standard features, including six airbags.

Standard features include, with the emphasis again on safety, Electronic Stability Programme with Vehicle Safety Management and Brake Assist Control (BAC), LED daytime running lights; manual air conditioning, tinted glass, remote central locking, audio system including radio/CD/MP3 compatibility, AUX and USB and iPod connectivity.

One of the interesting options include Flex Steer, the power assisted steering with three response levels, Normal, Comfort (easier to handle in tight spaces) and Sport (fast, direct input at high speed).

This popular small car has come a long way since its launch around six years ago. If there are flaws, they are not obvious. New generation Hyundai is reaping the rewards!

The car

Hyundai i.30 1.4 diesel 5-door from 20,995 (ex-works).

Engine: 1,396cc, 90PS at 4,000rpm, 220Nm at 1,500rpm.

Transmission: 6-speed manual gearbox.

Top speed: 170km/h; 0 to 100kph in 13.5 seconds.

Consumption: 5.3 l/100km (53mpg) urban; 3.5 (81mpg) extra urban; 4.1 (69mpg) combined.

C02 emissions: 109g/km.

Annual road tax: 190 euro.