Warm hatch with

space for a family

Hyundai i30 N Line+, front static
Hyundai i30 N Line+, side action
Hyundai i30 N Line+, front action
Hyundai i30 N Line+, full rear action
Hyundai i30 N Line+, rear action
Hyundai i30 N Line+, boot
Hyundai i30 N Line+, front seats
Hyundai i30 N, prototype, testing

EVERY new car goes through a rigorous testing regime before it's released onto the market, so that you and I get the best possible machine for our money.

And quite often, the car makers now send out material about the testing to show how far they go in their quest for perfection.

Many even use racing circuits to hone the driving dynamics of their cars and one such is Hyundai.

When it was developing the most recent i30 for the our market, the testing programme took in roads all over Europe and it was pushed unmercifully around the notorious 13 miles of the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany.

The result speaks for itself. This is the car that brings Hyundai right up to all the major competition.

It's hugely safe in all situations, handles like a hot hatch, holds the road like a sportscar and yet is also spacious and comfortable enough for family journeys of hundreds of miles.

This is the closest Hyundai has come to the best in the class, and, believe me, it matches them in almost every way.

I recently drove the 1.4 GDi turbo petrol in N-Line trim and it's a truly brilliant warm hatch masquerading as ordinary family transport.

The latest grill and sleek shape give it a purposeful stance without ever looking aggressive and under the skin it's lighter and stronger.

The delightful 1.4 turbo engine - driving through a brilliant seven-speed twin clutch automatic in my case - is smooth and quiet unless pushed for higher revs and it's always willing, with plenty of urge in the low and mid-ranges.

I found I did have to push it up the rev range to get best performance but, when I did, it was beautiful to drive.

The engine is very quiet at lower revs and even in fully automatic, it will pull happily in sixthgear from just above tickover, which is brilliant. Very few automatics will do that and change down much earlier.

Seventh gear is really a fuel saver for cruising and doesn't come into play until above about 50 miles an hour.

The kickdown is excellent, with little delay and a swift change down one or two gears at a prod of the right foot for very good acceleration.

There is also a manual setting, with paddles behind the steering wheel to change gear and despite those paddles moving with the wheel, I found it useful when a particular turn of speed was needed - say for overtaking.

But the best paddles are fixed to the steering column like those used by Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, and these are easier to use going through a series of bends.

Talking about corners, there's another place where this Hyundai excels. It clings to the surface like glue, even when pushed very hard.

This, together with marvellous balance and positive, direct steering, helps to make it very safe.

But it still manages to ride well, smoothing out most imperfections in road surface. The only time it gets a little lumpy is at slow speeds in town, and even here, it's never uncomfortable.

The N-Line I drove also has Normal, Eco and Sport drive modes. Eco and normal speak for themselves, but Sport adds urgency to all the car's responses, by for example, raising change up and down points for the gearbox.

All in all, the i30 is brilliant and a delight to drive. There's good legroom in the rear, a large boot, and plenty of cabin storage for smaller items.

N-Line spec includes an electric parking brake with auto on and off, climate, sports seats, stop start that worked well, sat nav, DAB radio, keyless entry and starting, parking sensors and a reversing camera. It also has wireless phone charging plus Android Auto and Apple Carplay.

Safety is brilliant, with active head restraints, loads of airbags, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, deadlocks, driver attention alert, hill start assist, lane keeping assistance and a cross traffic alert.

FAST FACTS

Price:£22,260

Mechanical: 140bhp, 1,353cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph:8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 51

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions:144g/km

Bik rating:31%

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