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Three cheers for Hyundai´s i30 

A new year visit to Tenerife was the perfect way to bring in 2014 with a clear blue sky in stark contrast to the wind and rain lashing Scotland back home.

Despite the gloomy weather as we headed towards Edinburgh Airport at the end of December, spirits were high with the thoughts of hearing the bells ringing in Golf del Sur’s ‘square’ – San Blas.

Taking us on the first part of our journey was a super little Hyundai i30 three-door model – launched in the UK early in 2013.

This was the latest arrival in the new generation i30 family – joining five-door hatch and estate.

It wasn’t just a case of taking away two rear doors either as the three-door model looks much sportier.

Design changes include a more prominent front spoiler, reshaped bumper, new-look mesh grille, a sharply-raked beltline and a sporty rear, incorporating LED taillights.

Getting our luggage into the large boot – 378 litres and 1,316 litres with seats down – wasn’t a problem with its low sill

Comfort for driver and front seat passenger was good in a spacious interior that offers lots of knee, head and elbow room for rear-seat passengers.

Hyundai quality has improved immensely and that’s the case in all i30 models.

The three door offers four trim levels – Classic, Active and, exclusive to the range, Sport and Sport Nav.

Even the entry-model Classic is well equipped with standard features which include Bluetooth, steering wheel audio and phone controls, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured exterior door handles, USB and AUX connections and air conditioning.

My test car was an i30 3DR Active 1.6 CRDi 110PS Blue Drive.

Moving up to this trim brings 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.

I found the diesel engine performed well in this model, with good mid-range acceleration going up and down the six-speed manual gearbox.

It was sprightly enough with an 11.5 seconds standstill to 62mph and 115mpg top speed.

Buyers wanting a faster model to match the sporty looks can opt for the 1.6 litre 120PS petrol or 1.6 CRDi 128PS versions.

Benefits of the test car also included top-class economy figures of 67.3mpg urban, 78.5mpg extra urban and 74.3mpg combined.

The i30 handled well and sat quietly enough on the motorway although there was a bit of wind noise. But extremely windy conditions while I had the car played a part of that.

It was never as bumpy as the Ryanair aircraft as it approached Tenerife South Airport as gusting winds caused turbulence than shook the plane sideways and up and down.

Everything was more than smooth after that – the highlight joining in the square’s excellent entertainment as we toasted in 2014 at JR’s after a superb meal and great service by their super staff – that includes you Simon.

The week, as usual, ended all too quickly and with the now anticipated high-speed drive to the airport.

I often wonder if all taxi drivers operating from the airport fancy themselves as Formula One drivers or do I just happen to end in the back seat of those who do.

Back to Edinburgh, and a fair bit of turbulence again, as we approach the tarmac.

Safely back in the i30, the journey home is without fuss as we drive through the expected wind and rain.

This three-door Hyundai i30 is up against competitors that include VW Golf and Ford Focus but is more than capable of winning its share of the market.

It’s stylish, well equipped and value-for-money with prices starting at £13,995. The test car price was £17,490.

And it also comes with the five-year triple care package, which includes five years’ unlimited mileage, manufacturer-backed warranty, five years of roadside assistance and five years of annual vehicle health checks.