THE secret to designing a successful compact family car is to ensure it feels like a bigger one - at least from the inside.
So it must have reasonable width to ensure driver and passenger aren't rubbing shoulders. It should also be refined and as hushed as possible on the move...ie limited mechanical noise and road rumble.
A further quality needed to emulate a competent large saloon is a fluent ride - one that soaks up the bumps without any sign of wallowing.
Hyundai, with the latest i30 hatchback has managed to combine these virtues within a pretty and inoffensive looking package at a reasonable price.
A bonus is that thanks to an eager, modern 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine performance is sprightly, even verging on warm-hatch territory.
It feels a bit too refined - no bad thing - to join the boy racer brigade, but certainly keen drivers will enjoy the swift pick-up and a sub nine second dash to 62mph.
This year's model new cabin layout is a marked improvement and lifts the i30 closer to the likes of VW and Ford in terms of design and quality. A large eight-inch touchscreen is the focal point of the fascia and is simple and easy to use. Directly in front of the driver are the two principal dials and the steering wheel is sprinkled with controls to ensure everything is within easy reach.
Legroom in the front is ample, but less so for those in the rear if long-legged people occupy the front seats. Boot space as about average for the class and the rear seats split 60-40. There's no need for an electric tailgate as the lid is light and undemanding to open or close.
The gearshift for the manual six-speed gearbox is light and slick with well chosen ratios that allow you to make the most of the ample turbo torque.
While the previous i30 was a decent performer with no nasty traits, it remained a safe and unexciting family hold-all. This year's comprehensive overhaul has added extra stiffness in the structure resulting in sharper handling, a better ride and less noise and vibration.
Faster steering and reset dampers add to the impression of greater dynamism and a more enthusiastic drive.
Despite the extra pace, fuel economy remains an important priority and with an official combined figure of 52.3mpg the Hyundai measures up well to rivals.
It's also reasonable to tax with a CO2 of 124g/km. My average consumption was 43.4mpg.
Of course, there's no shortage of stiff competition in this class, the i30 having to reckon with the likes of Golf, Astra, Focus and 308 plus a bevy of crossovers. But with stacks on standard equipment on the topline Premium version, there's serious showroom appeal.
The list includes 17-in alloys, electric driver's seat adjustment, heated front seats, dual zone air con, LED headlights and DAB radio.