By: Jason Woosey

Though its styling might appear more restrained than striking, Hyundai's design chief Peter Schreyer says his team aimed for a “timeless” look for its all-new i30, ultimately aiming to appeal to a wider audience. To some degree the new hatch also previews other future Hyundais, specifically from the front end where it ushers in Hyundai's new “Cascading” grille design.

The third-generation i30 was designed and developed in Europe, and ushers in new engines and gadgets not previously seen in Hyundai's Golf-sized offering. Further to that, it now sports a fully-independent multi-link rear suspension system, while Hyundai has doubled the use of advanced high-strength steel in the new model, making it 22 percent more rigid in the process and reducing body weight by 28kg.

That makes lighter work for the fresh assortment of engines, which includes a brand new 1.4-litre direct injection turbopetrol four-cylinder that makes its debut in the i30. This 1.4 T-GDI produces 103kW and 242Nm and will be the most powerful i30 in the initial range, but Hyundai assures us that a proper high-performance version, falling under the new 'N' sub-brand, will hit the scene later in 2017.

At the opposite end of the petrol line-up is Hyundai's three-cylinder 1.0 T-GDI direct injection petrol, already found in Euro-spec i20s and rated at 88kW and 170Nm. On the diesel front, European customers can choose between three versions of Hyundai's 1.6-litre turbodiesel offered in 70kW, 81kW and 98kW guises.

Depending on the engine selected, buyers can opt for a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch DCT automated gearbox.

Smarter cabin, new features

The progress continues inside, where buyers can opt for a 'floating' 20cm touch-screen infotainment system, along with an array of modern driver-assist gadgets such as adaptive cruise control, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Front Collision Warning, High-beam Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Driver Attention Alert.

The standard audio system is linked to a 15cm touch-screen and Hyundai also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration as well as wireless phone charging.

But will it be practical too? Hyundai claims that its new hatch will offer “class-leading roominess” and the 395-litre boot capacity certainly sounds spacious in our book.

The South African features and engine line-up will be confirmed closer to launch and although the on-sale date has yet to be set in stone, our local contact expects it to arrive during the second half of 2017.