There’s another Korean Golf, the new Hyundai i30. You would want to shout it from the rooftops: friends, leave VW and go for cheap little ones. Are you good at it and they score with the hard-working citizens. They have to calculate and calculators automatically end up with mini-Koreans; the smart Hyundai i10 is space king in its class.

But everyone wants to become an A-brand. You have Chinese smartphone manufacturers targeting the iPhone, heroes. You only win from icons with a very long breath. First develop your market position with solid average products for twenty years, then pull out all the stops for the disruptive premium surprise that no trend watcher saw coming. For example, Toyota was able to sew up the elite with the top brand Lexus, Samsung gradually rose above the Apple level.

Good looking. After the innovation cup has been conquered, the Sisyphus fight against the unassailable relations of authority awaits. It doesn’t seem to hurt car brands of reputation that they are trumped in reliability statistics by floundering Asians or, as often happens, by Lexus. Image is a monster. In this way the not flawless Golf keeps its AAA status. It’s true that the legs of his chair are being sawn diligently, as angry tongues claim that Apple has lost its way since the death of Steve Jobs, but you can’t see any cracks in its patina.

Despite the diesel blunder, VW remains flexible on the ball with modern downsize engines and sleek industrial design. The finish is top notch and the recipe for success is refined and seasoned with gadgets. For example, the facelifted Golf VII has gesture control. You can swipe by swiping your hand back and forth in front of the multimedia screen, super cool. That gives product bonding, that priceless feeling of exclusivity. VW has the money to make it and the goodwill to make the customers bleed for it, so it may cost a bit.


Hyundai must fight for acceptance in Golf domain. The most visible symptom is the cramped design, tiptoeing hip with an oversized hexagonal grille, the new face of the brand. It is curious that the brand, which actually attracted a German design chef, does not come to terms with the taste standards set by Apple; the i30 is just as much of an old man’s car as its predecessor. It is not illogical. Where each Golf is the natural continuation of the previous one, Hyundai has to reinvent the wheel again and again. It has no profile.

Hyundai also lagged behind technically. The small turbo engines did not come, the dashboards were Samsung for the big leap forward, clumsy just not, the driving characteristics reasonable but never brilliant. The biggest asset, the price, remained effective as long as the advantage was so substantial that the calculator gave up on his Golf dream. It’s heartbreaking that manufacturers everywhere are working on such a car, dreaming of the day they’ll beat the Gulf when it’s unimaginable. Then it becomes just as expensive.

Yet creeps the i30 a little closer to the big example. He masters almost all of the Gulf’s techno tricks as standard or for modest surcharges; automatic emergency braking, wireless charging of telephones, alerting the driver of fatigue. Like all Real Brands, the i30 now has a three-cylinder turbo with five rebellious horsepower more than the Golf equivalent.

Now that diesels are out of favor due to the loss of their additional tax benefit, the Netherlands will opt for that petrol version. That will be at least the i-Motion, the second scant i30 for 22 grand including air conditioning, dirt cheap. A comparable Golf costs almost 25,000 euros. The difference is big enough for a fully catered sun holiday to Turkey.

I have the task of giving the why not feeling the last push. This is, as Hyundai says, a car for everyone, well in line. Although he has not yet got the right style average. I know what Golf riders are going to parrot. Look at those materials, that cheesy plastic everywhere, those childish graphics on that saggy iPad-style screen.

Come on, you little things, do you hear something rattling? At most he is a bit droopy in corners and you have to switch firmly to keep the low-calorie engine running at low revs. The i30 is an excellent, spacious car, after all, an ordinary Golf is not a GTI.

I’m sure I’m talking to deaf ears. No matter how good it is, it won’t fit in the Golf frame. For the time being, we are waiting to see who scores better in the breakdown statistics of 2020, the Golf or this one. If anyone cares.