Hyundai i30 hatchback

£15,295 - £23,695

The Hyundai i30 is a mid-size five-door hatchback (there's a sporty three-door version, too) aimed squarely at the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Earlier versions of were consistently cheaper than rivals, but today's i30 is a much more stylish, capable and sophisticated model – and prices have gone up as a result. Still, it has an impressive five-year warranty and lots of standard equipment, so it continues to offer good value for money.

There's a choice of 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines, topped off by a sporty 1.6-litre turbo. The diesel line-up features a choice of 1.6-litre engines with two power outputs. Automatic as well as manual transmission is available, but we prefer the manual. Our pick of the engine range is the less powerful of the two 1.6-litre diesels, as it does 78.4mpg and costs nothing in road tax.

The i30 is a reasonably comfortable car, although it leans a little too heavily in corners at times. This is surprising, because the suspension is actually on the firm side. As a result, the car feels a little less composed than rivals such as the VW Golf. It's not as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus, either, and while its steering is quite sharp, it's not as direct as the best.

The i30's interior is stylish and uses some high-grade materials. However, it looks a little fussy in places and isn’t as classy as a Golf's. The cabin is genuinely roomy, though, while the boot is impressively large.

There are four trim levels, ranging from S to top-spec Premium, plus the three and five-door turbo versions. Our pick, for its good balance of price and equipment, is the mid-range SE. Highlights include alloy wheels, air-conditioning, and rear parking sensors.

The i30 is a reliable car, backed up with an impressive five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. It was awarded five stars for crash safety by Euro NCAP, and six airbags, braking assistance, hill-start assistance and tyre-pressure monitoring all feature on the standard equipment list.