Making its public debut in Paris, the new Hyundai i30 Hatchback will serve as the global precursor of a recast 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT that goes on sale in America during the first half of next year. The sporty front-drive 5-door melds cues and platform reworks from the Elantra Sedan that was comprehensively redone for 2017 with its own distinctive GT touches. The i30’s bolder new exterior reflects an evolution of the firm’s existing design language and complements its edgier character and LED-infused lighting elements with a new “Cascading Grille” treatment that includes a mesh insert and hexagonal surround, a look Hyundai says will become a new family identity touchpoint on its future models. It also gains an active air flap immediately behind the grille, along with air curtains on the margins of the front fascia to trim the coefficient of drag to 0.30.

Adding more of what really matters most

Beneath that tidier bodywork, the new i30 Hatch/Elantra GT benefits from the same stronger core structure introduced in the Elantra 4-door. Like the Sedan, it’s constructed from 53 percent high-strength steel, is 22 percent more rigid than before and offers enhanced passenger protection in case of impacts. The i30’s all-new chassis has been tested on the grueling Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit and tuned to deliver better ride with more precise handling than the current model. Steering on the new-gen i30 is now 10-percent more direct, while larger-diameter brakes give it enhanced stopping power.

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Hyundai says the spacious cabin of the new i30 Hatch offers segment-leading room for five and a generous cargo bay. It also boasts numerous functional benefits from this makeover, starting with upgraded trims, a new and more user-friendly 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel, plus a standard premium audio system with Bluetooth and a 5.0-inch capacitive touch LED screen. The latter can be upgraded with an optional navigation-equipped setup featuring an 8.0-inch high-res “floating” screen atop the dash that also integrates various media and connectivity functions, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In Euro guise, the i30 also will offer tri-level heated/cooled front buckets, a power-operated driver’s seat with 2-position memory and a wireless charging pad, all of which could come here as well.

A bounty of advanced safety features

As you’d expect, the new i30 will offer the full range of Hyundai’s active/passive driver assists as standard equipment or available options, including Autonomous Emergency Braking with Front Collision Warning System, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a Lane Keeping Assist System, Speed Limit Information Function and High Beam Assist. It also will introduce a new Driver Attention Alert system that can monitor various control inputs to check for fatigued or reckless driving and provide both audio and visual warnings in an attempt to prevent accidents.

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While the Hyundai i30 Hatch will offer three gasoline 4-cylinder engines from 1.0 to 1.4 liters in size and one 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine in other markets, along with 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions, the powertrain picture is less clear for the U.S. at this time. It’s possible we’ll could still see the existing 173-horse/2.0-liter four carry over, but a new 1.6-liter/201-horse turbo-four set for duty in the upcoming 2017 Elantra Sedan’s Sport variant might make an appearance here as well.

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