tHe i30 MAY JUST BE THE CAR FOR YOU

The Hyundai group has been in South Africa for about 16 years but, believe it or not, it was only last week that it offered local motorists a hatch in the ultra-competitive C-segment.

The Hyundai group has been in South Africa for about 16 years but, believe it or not, it was only last week that it offered local motorists a hatch in the ultra-competitive C-segment.

Building on the success of the i10 and i20, they have now completed the trilogy with the all-new i30. In fact, the i20 - which was a finalist for the 2009 Car of the Year - sells in the region of 1000 units a month locally.

The i30, though, stands on its own. From the rear you could easily be forgiven for confusing it with a BMW 1-series hatch. With its distinctively rounded boot, rear bumper and even the identification logo on the right hand side it is similar to the German marquee.

For the moment just two versions of the i30 will be available in South Africa - a 1,6litre (R189900) and a 2,0litre (R229900) - and a five-speed manual is your only option for the time being, although Hyundai representatives did say an automatic might be available at a later date.

Long gone are the days of questioning the quality levels of this South Korean giant. With the i30, Hyundai have stuck to their principle of providing vehicles with high levels of comfort and a wide array of extras.

And by wide, I mean wide!

Climate control, six air bags, bee-sting antenna, ABS brakes, radio-CD-MP3, retractable side mirrors, colour-coded handles, cruise control (2,0 litre only) ... you get my drift!

Just as the exterior design is attractive, the interior manages to complete the package nicely. Ample legroom front and back, a nicely laid out dashboard and instrumentation panel and leather seats combine well.

At the launch we had the opportunity to sample both the 1,6 and 2,0 for a scenic drive down to the Vaal River.

Whether it was because I drove the less powerful 1,6 on the return leg I'm not too sure, but it did feel slightly underpowered compared with its sibling.

Also, a sixth gear would have been nice to have changed into as it was pulling just over 4000rpm at 12kmh.

That aside these are both excellent vehicles and when you line them up against the opposition they will take some beating.

In fact, an interesting exercise when looking at buying a vehicle is to take a calculator and add up just what it costs to include extras to a basic car. And that's just where the i30 might have the edge over some of its competitors.

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