It’s 04:30am and I set off for Heathrow on a typical June day in the UK. It’s raining and it’s cold. I’m not going to complain though; I’ve got the joyous prospect of the M25 to look forward to and then the new passport scanner thing to get to grips with in the airport.
But seriously, the British summer is absolute bobbins I tell you. Even Kia’s new C’eed advert is set in a downpour. It’s instantly recognisable that the people in the advert are driving in the UK.
So it was a nice surprise when I stepped off the plane in Vienna for Hyundai’s i30 launch to be greeted with clear blue skies and 34 degrees of eyelash curling centigrade.
Perfect conditions to test out Hyundai’s answer to the C-segment. UK dealer principals have already had a go in the car after the company flew them out to Frankfurt earlier this month, but general sales managers will be testing the new hatchback on Milbrook Proving Ground next month.
The entry level i30 will be cheaper than its main rivals, the Toyota Auris, Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 307, Ford Focus, Citroen C4 and Renault Megane, when it goes on sale in September.
Hyundai said it would be battling with its French rivals in particular. Journalists were told on the launch that it would be “aggressive” with its campaign against Renault, Citroen and Peugeot over the next year.
Interior shoddery which came as standard has been replaced with a solid build quality. Its new models really have moved on from their super-budget beginnings. I think Hyundai has got a real chance at sitting level with the French manufacturers to steal sales.
UK Hyundai dealers have got quite a lot of ammunition to entice UK customers to the i30. The entry model is priced at £10,995, it’s easy to drive, it’s got a solid ride, it comes with a five year warranty and has a huge list of standard spec. Surely this is enough to convince even the worst badge snob? I think so.