Hyundai unveils all-new third-generation i30

Prior to its official debut at the upcoming 2016 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai has revealed the looks and specifications of the third-generation i30. A popular car for the South Korean brand in Europe, the i30 has sold over 800,000 units in the continent since its debut in 2008. Not surprisingly then, the new i30 is designed, developed, tested and set to be manufactured in Europe. 

The new i30 is also said to be the DNA car for Hyundai in Europe, previewing the future direction of the brand. For a market like ours where Europe-oriented Hyundais like the i10 and i20 are big-sellers, this is a crucial hint at how the next-generation variants of these cars would evolve.

Visually, the new i30 continues the trend that we first saw with the Sonata and, more recently, Elantra. Hyundai is doing away with the flashy styling elements, opting for subtler designs instead.

Debuting in the new i30 is what Hyundai calls a 'Cascading Grille', a 'blink-and-you-miss' evolution of the hexagonal grille that many automakers have fallen in love with. Hyundai says the new grille will become the identity of the brand going forward, so expect to see a lot more of these in upcoming Hyundais. Wraparound headlights with projectors and vertically-stacked air curtains with inbuilt foglights and LED DRLs define the fascia. The hood is long, the wheelbase is longer and the overhangs shorter, giving the i30 a solid stance. The profile is characterized by a prominent shoulder line that runs the full length of the car. While the split-taillight units look good, the tailgate has two creases too many.

The interiors are well-designed and elegant with the quality, fit and finish expected to be top notch as well. Eye-catchy elements include the beautiful three-spoke steering wheel and the optional 8-inch floating touchscreen in the center console. While some of us actually like this setup, there are a whole lot of folks who hate this show-off stuff stuck on to the dashboard. Hyundai claims class-leading passenger and luggage space in the new i30 and we don't doubt it. Crucially, the rear windows aren't kinked upwards like most Hyundai cars, so those seated at the rear don't have to fight claustrophobia as much as before.

Powering the new i30 are three petrol and one diesel engines. Petrol options include a naturally-aspirated 1.4-liter mill and two turbocharged units - a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder T-GDI and the new 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder T-GDI delivering 140 PS and 242 Nm of torque. Flying the diesel flag is the familiar 1.6-liter turbo diesel in three states of tune. Mated to these engines are the 6-speed manual and the fairly-new 7-speed Dual-Clutch automatic transmissions. 

The new i30 is said to be tested for dynamic prowess at the famous N├╝rburgring Nordschleife. Let's wait and see if that has translated into responsive steering and better handling, traits that Hyundai isn't known for.

When it goes on sale, the new i30 will have the most advanced safety package amongst all mainstream Hyundai models with a host of active and passive safety features including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Front Collision Warning System, Driver Attention Alert (DAA), Smart Cruise Control, Bilnd Spot Detector, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Assist System, High Beam Assist and a total of 7 airbags.

While Hyundai has confirmed that the i30 nameplate will expand to include multiple body styles, we don't know what are they yet. Our guess is that a station wagon and a 3-door coupe would join the 5-door hatchback that we see here. That's not all. The new i30 will also get the first high-performance model under Hyundai's new 'N' sub-brand, come 2017. 

How about bringing this here to India as your halo car, Hyundai?


Skoda unveils Kodiaq, the brand's first large SUV

Czech automaker Skoda recently took the wraps off its all-new Kodiaq, the brand's first large SUV, at an event held in Berlin. Lining up above the Yeti in the lineup, the Kodiaq has the potential to do more than what the Yeti did in literally every aspect. Yes, the new Skoda SUV is not just bigger, it looks better, comes with three rows of seating and opens up new markets and target audience too. This, so, is a crucial model for Skoda.  

One aspect of current-generation Skodas that won the brand thousands of fans worldwide is their crisp styling that's accentuated in no small part by elegant detailing all around. The Kodiaq loses none of that.

Not all large SUVs are beautiful to look at but the Kodiaq sure is. The overhangs are just about the right length, the wheelbase isn't awkwardly long and there is none of that 'bulbousness' that seem to plague many of its peers. Giving it a distinct identity up front are its double-headlights that perfectly complement the trademark 'butterfly' grille with vertical slats. There are eye-catchy design elements all around - the muscular hood with central ridges, the recessed shoulder line, the snazzy alloy wheels and the contoured tailgate with multiple surfaces. Headlights and taillights get the typical 'crystalline' effect like all Skodas and look brilliant.

The interiors are typical European stuff with a functional layout that's devoid of flashy styling. Expect the build quality, fit and finish to be up there with the best as usual. Despite being just a tad longer than the Octavia, the Kodiaq appears to be a proper 7-seater with three rows of comfortable seating. The double horizontal lines, a theme successfully incorporated in the exterior design, is carried forward to the cabin as well. Remember the Skoda-branded umbrellas of the first-gen Superb that had their own storage slots in the rear doors? The Kodiaq has one such unique feature too. It's called 'door-edge protection' and it deploys automatically when opening the doors preventing the door edges from getting damaged.

A host of driver assistance systems like Tow Assist that automatically takes over steering when reversing with a trailer, Manoeurve Assist that automatically brakes when an obstacle is detected while reversing and Area View System that comes with wide-angle surround-view cameras are available for the first time in a Skoda. 

Engine options include the familiar 1.4 TSI, 2.0 TSI and the 2.0 TDI, with the smaller petrol and the diesel mills coming in two states of tune each. Apart from the 6-speed manual and the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, a new 7-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission is making its debut at Skoda mated with the top-of-the-line TSI and TDI mills. An All-Wheel Drive system with electronically-controlled multi plate clutch is on offer too, which means the Kodiaq can take you off-road if needed.

We hear that the new Superb has got off to a flying start in several markets across the world and Skoda can't make enough of them. We know quite a few unhappy customers waiting for their Superbs right here in India too. When it goes on sale, expect the Kodiaq to pose more of the same challenges for Skoda, in India and abroad!