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Hyundai i30, Mazda 3, Skoda Rapid Spaceback: Compact and great?

Achim Hartmann
Hyundai i30, Mazda 3, Skoda Rapid Spaceback
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It is the meeting of ambitious climbers and returnees in the shadow of the overwhelming golf. But what does shade mean - in Europe's most popular class, which accounts for a quarter of all sales, the sun shines for all good alternatives. For the Hyundai i30 as well as for the Mazda 3 or the new S koda Rapid Spaceback.

Skoda Rapid Spaceback is not based on a modular transverse construction kit

For the first time since the takeover, the Czech VW subsidiary Skoda is bringing a real compact model. That's right, the Octavia also uses golf technology, but has definitely moved on to the middle class since the release of the current version. So there is enough space for the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, which, unlike its brothers Audi A3, Seat León & Co., is not based on the Group's modular transverse matrix. Rather, the front axle from the small Skoda Fabia and the rear twist beam construction from the weaker Octavia variants are used.

Further savings measures are being taken in the interior of the Skoda Rapid Spaceback visible: even in the tested Elegance version, the dashboard and door panels are made entirely of hard plastic. The not quite fresh Amundsen navigation with mini-screen relegates the Skoda Rapid Spaceback to the role of an inexpensive alternative, as does the lack of driver assistance options. The Skoda Rapid Spaceback should obviously not repeat the superb mistake of shaking up the internal brand hierarchy.

Skoda Rapid Spaceback with a simple interior

Yes if you don't keep tapping Morse code on your dashboard, you won't find anything wrong with the simple materials. No creaking or rattling noises can be elicited from them, even on bad roads. In addition, the interior impresses with plenty of shelves, a large glove compartment, exemplary instruments and easy operation.

And a lot of space. The Skoda Rapid Spaceback lives up to its name with the largest trunk in its class, thanks to the double loading floorcan be expanded step-free. Since it shares the wheelbase with the 18 centimeter longer sedan, passengers in row two enjoy plenty of head and legroom, climb in through large doors without twisting and enjoy practical details that cost little money but a lot of brainpower: the one in the fuel filler flap This includes the ice scraper, as well as the storage compartment for the safety vest under the driver's seat of the Skoda Rapid Spaceback.

Chic Hyundai i30 interior

Compared to the pragmatic Skoda Rapid Spaceback, the Hyundai i30 looks almost noble. In addition to solid materials, comfortable and adequately dimensioned seats, its large multimedia touchscreen stands out, which not only shows modern navigation graphics but also the sharp image from the reversing camera. No wonder that the entire industry is now amazed at Hyundai's steep learning curve. Started 20 years ago in Germany as a quirky cheap home from the Far East, the Koreans have now risen to number four in the world.

That only works if you know exactly what buyers want: Extensive shelves, conveniently positioned USB and AUX connections as well as a trunk with a wide opening and extra compartments under the floor are just as much a part of it as a generous guarantee period of five Years or a lively design.

However, the clarity suffers from the exterior. Wide roof posts and a small rear window make it particularly difficult to see at an angle to the rear. The operation of the Hyundai i30 is also not ideal. The fact that the light can be switched on via a rotary ring on the steering wheel lever also requires getting used to, as does the remote control for radio and hands-free system overloaded with functions.

New operating concept in Mazda 3

When it comes to operation and The Mazda goes its own way with displays: A head-up display projects speed and turn arrows onto a small Plexiglas pane in the driver's field of vision. In addition, a turn-push regulator in the center console, together with the touchscreen, should satisfy fans of both operating concepts. Mazda is obviously not enough to swim inconspicuously. After the good marks for the CX-5 and 6, the compact should help to get the brand out of the meanwhile insignificance.

The wide range of assistance options along with extensive standard equipment could help here: as a Sports Line, the Mazda 3 breaks the 23,000 euro threshold, but bi-xenon headlights and the Bose sound system are standard equipment as well an infotainment unit that has many useful online functions (live traffic jam warning, music streaming services, fuel price information, etc.) via mobile phone coupling. Only the navigation function of the Mazda 3 costs 600 euros extra.

That doesn't make the positive impression particularly goodnoble cockpit however partly wrecked again. In addition, the instrument panel makes insufficient use of the speedometer space freed up by the head-up display in the Mazda 3. The driver looks at a tachometer, a few LCD displays and a lot of black plastic. Furthermore, the Mazda 3 doesn't capitalize on its extra 15 centimeters in length. Headroom, clarity and entry suffer from the angular, dynamic proportions.

Mazda 3 with stiffly rolling 18-inch wheels

That the dynamics are not limited to externals, becomes clear after a few meters. Suspension comfort is not the thing of the Mazda 3, also because it competes on stiffly rolling 18-inch wheels. With its directly translated steering, it tackles sweeping all the more lively, and the precise six-speed gearbox helps keep the two-liter four-cylinder of the Mazda 3 with 120 hp happy. 120 hp from two liters? Maximum torque at 4,000 rpm? Sounds like engine characteristics from the nineties - and that's how it drives. The four-cylinder takes a sluggish pace at the bottom, but has modern consumption values: At 6.9 liters /100 km, it is a tenth below the downsizing turbo of the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, which has to do without a start-stop.

The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is supported by the standard seven-speed dual clutch transmission, which harmonizes wonderfully with the 122-PS TSI. Depending on the driver's wishes, it lets the cultivated 1.4-liter cruise on its torque shaft in order to shift down a gas pedal later, savor the full turbo boost and roar away. Incidentally, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback doesn't owe the DSG any extra points. What he gains in the transmission chapter he loses through the costs.

The Skoda Rapid Spaceback also masters the 'as well as' best: Although it is blessed with the most comfortable suspension that responds sensitively even to nasty bumps, the only 1,180 kilos heavy Spaceback can be controlled via its sensitive steering Effortlessly chase through tight turns and help in an emergency with sensitive ESP interventions. So you shouldn't be put off by the rather simple appearance of the material, while driving the Skoda clearly gains in profile.

Tougher 1.6 -Liter engine in the Hyundai

In the Hyundai i30, however, it is the other way around. The 1.6-liter vacuum cleaner does not meet the expectations that the loving driver's workplace arouses. Little displacement and the lack of supercharging make it seem toothless, although it has the highest output with 135 hp.

If you want to move forward quickly, you have to turn it off, whereas the four-cylinder protests with roaring frequencies. In addition, the synthetic steering lacks road contact in all three selectable servo characteristics. Early understeer in corners underscores thatlow handling ambitions - which wouldn't be a problem if the comfort were right.

But the suspension responds mainly to short bumps. After all, the Hyundai i30 can be easily controlled by less experienced drivers and shines with the best braking values ​​in the test. Since the comparison took place in Italy for logistical reasons and not on the usual routes, wet and µ-split braking had to be dispensed with. For this reason, the usual consumption round to determine the minimum consumption did not take place. In the test cut, the Hyundai i30 approved around three quarters of a liter more than the competition.

In terms of engine and chassis, there is still room for improvement for the spacious and high-quality Hyundai i30. While the economical Mazda 3 shines with its modern assistance and infotainment electronics, the well-balanced Skoda Rapid Spaceback wins because it combines a lot of space with bustling agility and high suspension comfort.

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