Hyundai i30 hatchback

£15,295 - £23,695

A while has passed since the Hyundai i30 won our Carbuyer Car of the Year award, but it still makes a strong case for itself and has recently received improvements to help it stay competitive.

It's always been a practical car and still has this to its credit, with a good deal of room for front and rear-seat passengers, plenty of storage cubbies inside and a boot which, at 378 litres, is bigger than that of either the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf.

There's a broad range of engines available for the i30, headed by a powerful 186bhp 1.6-litre petrol in the flagship Turbo model, while the more economy-minded can choose from more frugal 1.4 or 1.6-litre engines. Our favourites, though, are the diesels, especially the 110bhp with a manual gearbox. At over 68mpg, its economy is excellent, its CO2 emissions are low enough to make it road-tax-exempt and it's still reasonably powerful.

Ride comfort isn’t quite as good as in some of the i30's newer rivals. It tends to become a little unsettled over rougher road surfaces and also tends to lean a little when cornering energetically. Overall, it isn’t as much fun to drive as the Ford Focus, despite decent grip and responsive steering.

The amount of standard equipment on board all i30s is also very respectable – apart from the entry-level S. We prefer the mid-range SE, which offers the convenience of rear parking sensors, cruise control, all round electric windows and a smart set of alloy wheels.

Whatever version you go for, though, build quality is extremely good, with sturdy materials used throughout the interior, lending it an upmarket feel. The feeling of solidity is also backed up by an excellent five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. You can be assured of safety, too – the i30 was awarded the full five-star rating when independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP, while driver aids like hill-start assistance are fitted as standard.

As a safe, easy-to-use car that's well built and offers good value, the Hyundai i30 still has much to recommend it.