First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai i30 facelift Prototype

The story:
Hyundai let Company Car Today behind the wheel of a pre-production version of its forthcoming facelifted i30, complete with mild hybrid tech and improved technology.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Ford Focus
HYUNDAI I30 1.4 48V 140HP
On sale:October 2020

Hyundai has allowed a select number of people behind the wheel of an early version of its heavily revised i30, which will arrive on UK roads this autumn, giving us an early peek on the understanding that we don’t judge it as the completely finished article.

First Drive- September 2020- Hyundai i30- Image 3It’s a sharp facelift, with new LED headlights with V-shaped daytime running lights creating a seemingly narrower and more aggressive appearance, complemented by a new grille.

On the inside, there’s a new 10.25-inch touchscreen, which may or may not be standard on the UK spec cars, and a neat new digital instrument cluster. The touchscreen is wide but not very tall, giving it a slightly squashed but elongated feel, and the interior on this top N-Line spec model – which will be offered for the first time in estate shape as well as hatchback and fastback – is lifted by red stitching and sportier seats. Rear space is par for the class in terms of head and leg space, as is the hatch’s 395-liter boot.

First Drive- September 2020- Hyundai i30- Image 1From a driving perspective, the big difference is the introduction of 48V mild hybrid technology, as the regeneration element to recharge the battery under deceleration is more pronounced than pretty much any mild hybrid system so far. The 48V system runs ancillary services on the car rather than powering it on its own, having a small but worthwhile emissions impact. The Hyundai system is significantly more pronounced than most, which once you’re used to it is a help in terms of reducing speed when coasting towards a red light or back of a traffic jam.

The ride quality is harder than expected, even given that this is the N-Line model with 18-inch wheels, but the manual gearchange has a slick feel and pace from the 160hp 1.5-litre turbo engine that will only be offered on this top trim is decent enough.

Pricing and spec for the UK line-up is still to be confirmed, along with efficiency figures, with the cars due to arrive in the UK around October. We’ll get a chance to drive the finished product in the coming weeks.

paul barker

The verdict

Sharp redesign and increased tech help the i30’s appeal, as will any efficiency gain from the mild hybrid system.