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Hyundai i30 Turbo 2015 Road Test

The i30 Turbo is the sporty range-topper of the Hyundai hatchback range. As the name implies, it is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, delivering 186PS and 0-62mph acceleration of 8.0 seconds, which makes it the most powerful road-going i30 ever to be offered in the UK.

Hyundai's decision to move into hot hatch territory shouldn't come as any surprise. Over the past two years the Korean manufacturer has ploughed significant amounts of money into its works-backed World Rally Team and it has recently pledged to use its newfound motorsport expertise to build more high performance models.

However, despite the hot hatch connotations, the i30 Turbo is not Hyundai's answer to the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Ford Focus ST. On the contrary, the Turbo is billed as a warm hatch, providing high octane thrills without the bone shaking compromises in ride quality.

The i30 Turbo does get some important performance upgrades though, with the aforementioned turbocharged 1.6-litre engine complemented by sports suspension and larger disc brakes. The steering has also been reworked to provide a quicker and more direct turn when cornering. The exterior gets some enhancement too, with a sports body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels and a shiny set of twin exhaust pipes. The result is a sharper and more aggressive looking i30. 

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On the road the Turbo is brisk, with decent acceleration and 265Nm of torque. However, while the engine is smooth and refined, it doesn't live up to the sporty exterior, emitting a subdued hum that builds into an annoying high pitched buzz as you work through the six-speed gearbox.

The i30 Turbo also requires a heavy foot to get the most from it, with maximum power not arriving until 6000rpm. This means you have to work it rather hard to obtain the 0-62mph figure of 8.0 seconds, with the engine emitting high pitched groans as you snap through the gears. Grip is plentiful though, which means the i30 Turbo is comfortable in the corners and there's not too much lean.

The Turbo uses the same Flex Steer system as the standard i30, with three driving modes - comfort, normal and sport. The steering is rather vague in the corners, but it turns confidently enough with less than three turns needed to travel from lock-to-lock. This provides particularly nimble handling at low-speeds, which allows you to complete tight parking manoeuvres with the minimal of fuss. 

Inside, the Turbo is almost identical to the i30 in Premium trim with a high-quality finish and some nice touches. These include a soft-touch leather steering wheel and a simple-to-use LCD colour display that's located in the centre of the dashboard. Leather sports seats are also standard and finding a good driving position is easy, thanks to an abundance of height and lumbar adjustment.

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Available with three or five-doors, the i30 Turbo is practical and well-equipped for family life and there's no shortage of head or leg room in the front or back. All models get navigation, Bluetooth, cruise control and keyless entry as standard, while in-car storage is plentiful with cup holders, door pockets and a large 378-litre boot. However, the official economy figure of 38.7mpg isn't great.

One of the problem areas for the i30 Turbo lies in the fact that it never feels as fast as it should. The twin exhaust system emits a disappointing humming noise and the vague steering leaves the driver uninspired. This makes the Turbo a difficult car to recommend when you factor in its £22,550 starting price. That pitches it up against the faster Ford Focus ST and the more refined (and fun) Peugeot 308 GT. 

We understand what Hyundai is trying to achieve with the i30 Turbo, but its tepid performance and lacklustre handling make it an inferior offering compared to the Ford and the Peugeot. Indeed, given the choice, we'd choose the standard i30 1.6 CRDi with 136PS over the Turbo. Not only do you save £2000 on the list price, but you also get a more comfortable ride, thanks to its 17-inch wheels and softer suspension.

However, if striking a balance between comfort and performance is your thing, then the warm hatch connotations of the 308 GT will probably make more sense than the hard riding Focus ST. Not only is the Peugeot quicker than the Hyundai, but it makes more sense for family driver, with lower running costs and better all-round refinement. 

The Hyundai i30 Turbo is available to buy now.

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