Hyundai i30 hatchback

£15,195 - £23,595

The Hyundai i30 is a compact family hatchback rival to the VW Golf and Ford Focus. It comes with either three or five doors, and there's also a Tourer estate version. It was crowned Carbuyer's Car of the Year in 2012.

The original i30 (launched in 2007) scored on value, but this second-generation model has moved away from that – it's now priced on par with the likes of the Ford Focus. But the increase in cost has been matched by a significant improvement in quality and styling. Plus, Hyundai offers more equipment as standard than most of its rivals – even entry-level Classic models feature a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection and voice recognition, as well as LED daytime running lights and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls.

Classic models feel a little cheap – blame the plastic wheel trims for that. It's better to aim for at least a mid-spec Active, which adds alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and cruise control. The Style, Style Nav and Premium trims complete the range, but come at a price, although all versions have enough safety kit to achieve a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.

Under the bonnet, there's a choice of 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines and 1.4 and 1.6-litre CRDi diesels. The petrol options aren’t as efficient as the small petrol engines offered by the likes of Volkswagen and Ford, so a diesel i30 will make more sense to most buyers. The larger 1.6 CRDi is the cleaner and more economical choice, especially if you go for the Blue Drive model, which has claimed 76.3mpg fuel consumption and 97g/km CO2 emissions in Classic and Active spec.

Whether you go for diesel or petrol power, stick with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. We’d avoid the optional six-speed automatic, as it increases emissions and fuel consumption considerably.

Hyundai's five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty is another strong attraction for buyers. It's longer than most of its rivals’, although Toyota matches it and Kia covers you for seven years or 100,000 miles.